Anglo-Saxon coin find near York is 'jaw dropping'


Image captionThe small coin was found at Fulford on the the outskirts of York

A rare coin found in York by a man who took up metal detecting a week before has been described as "jaw dropping".

Experts at Yorkshire Museum said the coin was 1,400 years old and is one of only 19 ever found.

The Anglo-Saxon gold shilling was one of the first coins minted in York and is believed to be worth between £5,000 and £7,000.

It was found at Fulford, near York, by Ian Greig who had only bought a metal detector a week previously.

Mr Greig said he was initially unaware of its importance.

Image captionThe coin dates from the mid 7th century and was struck in York

"It was not until a friend of ours, who I had emailed, came back with some pictures of very similar coins that we realised what we had found and its historical significance."

Andy Woods, curator of money and medals at Yorkshire Museum, said the coin, which is smaller than a five pence piece, was a "one-in-a-million" find.

"When Ian first brought it in to me my jaw absolutely hit the floor. It is the first coin ever made in York."

He said: "It was made sometime around 620 to 650 AD and they are incredibly rare. This is only the 19th example of this type of coin ever found."

Mr Woods said the coin had a human figure holding two crosses on one side which might represent Paulinus, the first Bishop of York.

"We cannot say that for certain but it is the right time and the right place."

As the coin was found on its own it is not classed as treasure under the Treasure Act so ownership rests with the finder and the landowner, Fulford Parish Council.

Mr Greig said despite an offer from a private collector he would prefer it to be on public display and is in discussions with Yorkshire Museum about them acquiring the coin.

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John Broughton was born in the town of Cleethorpes on the North Sea coast of Lincolnshire, UK, not far from where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail in the Mayflower. In this town he studied at Clee Grammar School, whose founder died in 1709 in Queen Anne’s reign. In 1967 he had the best result in the Cambridge University Advanced Level examinations in History at county level and subsequently received a prize. He went on to take an honours degree in Medieval and Modern History at the University of Nottingham where he also studied Archaeology, with the ‘distinction’ of uncovering the first Roman villa window lintel found in the UK on a dig at Ancaster. Wow!

After completing a post-graduate certificate in education, majoring in English he began a varied career in the UK.

This began with teaching History, English and even Sociology (the latter under duress) for a ten-year period, culminating in Head of Department of History in a Manchester Grammar School.

Tired of State school teaching, he spent a year as Director of Training and Development of a Trade Institute based in Leamington Spa, where he taught merchandising to Middle Management.

Rather restless, he took a part-time job in the North-west of England as Head of an experimental Day Care Centre for vulnerable people either terminally ill or with psychological problems. He remained there for four years when he began writing stories for his two children Emily and Adam when they had exhausted all the children’s books in the local library. The result was that six of these were published, one of them being an anthology of shorter stories. This activity continued over the next few years while he lived on the beautiful island of St Agnes – the most south westerly of  the Scilly Isles off Cornwall. To supplement his income he worked as a flower picker. You know flowers can be quite heavy when they come in bundles and laid in crates. They grow narcissi from November to April. In the summer he experimented with being a fisherman in one of the four worst seas for currents in the world. The stomach has since recovered!

In 1986 he moved to Italy to teach EFL at a private school in Bari in Apulia, having exchanged the silence and beauty of St Agnes for chaotic city life – quite a culture shock. After two years in Bari he moved up the coast 55 km to Barletta and with a colleague opened his own English School. Meanwhile, he met and married his wife, Maria and together they moved to Torano Castello, her home village. It’s a hilltop village on the edge of the Crati valley, surrounded by 3 mountain ranges and within an hour’s drive of both the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts. Maria brought love and stability to the extent that they celebrate their silver wedding in 2016.

John began a career teaching English in the Engineering Faculty of the University of Calabria, where he also began translation and proofreading work destined to expand in collaboration with other Italian universities from Milan Polytechnic in the north down to the University of Messina in the south and including another handful of universities in between. He also published an internal guide entitled Writing Technical English for PhD students and researchers.

He has translated several books from Italian into English and also one from French. Work as the translator of various web sites kept him far too busy in the ’90s.

John retired in January 2014 and found that at last he had the time to take up writing once more – an activity he had to set aside since his children’s books in the ’80s. Obviously he chose the period that fascinates him most – the Anglo-Saxon period, hence the name of the Blog. The result being his first historical novel with the title ‘The Purple Thread’, published by Endeavour Press of Londonis  currently available on Amazon. His second novel set in southern England in the seventh century, entitled 'Wyrd of the Wolf'is also now available and he is currently working on the first book of a trilogy set in 7th century Mercia. 



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