Rare King Stephen coin found by metal detectorist sells for £8,500

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image source, Dix Noonan Webb
image captionThe coin features Stephen and his wife on one side and a cross and other ornaments on the other

An extremely rare 12th Century silver penny depicting King Stephen has sold for £8,500 at auction.

The coin was found on the Lincolnshire/South Yorkshire border by metal detectorist Graeme Rushton in 2018.

Auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb said the coin, which was minted in York in the early 1140s, was a fine example from the time.

It is one of only 25 known examples in existence.

Artefacts and antiquities consultant Nigel Mills said: "This one is exceptional because it is complete and hasn't been damaged."

The Anarchy

Mr Mills said the coin was bought by an American collector and was, to date, the only thing of note found at the undisclosed location.

However, he said what was interesting was all similar finds over the past 20 years had been discovered by metal detectorists.

The coin, which depicts Stephen and his wife Matilda, was found in a ploughed field just below the surface.

Mr Rushton, who is from Cumbria, said he had no idea how significant it was until he contacted experts at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge several months later.

image source, Print Collector/Getty Images
image captionStephen was embroiled in a civil war with his cousin Matilda during the time of his reign
  • Stephen was a grandson of William I and succeeded his uncle Henry I as king of England in 1135
  • However, Henry had nominated his only surviving daughter Matilda as his heir and Stephen's accession plunged England into a 19-year-long civil war, which became known as The Anarchy
  • The coin was found not far from the site of the Battle of Lincoln where Stephen was defeated and captured in 1141 by Matilda's half-brother, Robert, Earl of Gloucester
  • He was later released and in 1153 agreed to accept Matilda's son Henry as his heir to bring the conflict to an end. He died the following year

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