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

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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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The Purple Thread

 

St Leoba was born ca. 710 as Leobgytha in Wessex to a noble family, her mother was a distant cousin of Wynfrith, later Boniface, who was a friend of her father's. Leoba was conceived to old parents who were barren. Her mother had a dream in which she would conceive a "beloved" child of Christ. This dream also told her mother that her offspring was to lead a spiritual life, and to serve the church. Leobgytha was trained first by abbess Eadburg at Minster.

She entered Wimborne Abbey as an oblate and corresponded with Boniface. Archbishop Boniface later sought out Leoba, who was widely acclaimed for being virtuous, to help him with his mission of spreading Christianity throughout Germany. Archbishop Boniface repeatedly requested for Leoba to accompany him because he thought that many would benefit from her holiness and example. She agreed to accompany him because of a dream that she had:

An unending purple thread issued from her mouth which she drew forth little by little and wound into a ball until she became exhausted.

An elderly nun at Wimborne interpreted the dream as a prophecy indicating that Leoba’s teaching and good example would bring benefits to many in far off lands. The purple thread signified the wise counsel for which she would be famed. Purple thread – surely a metaphor for the advice of a royal woman as a weaver of peace.

The exact date of her arrival in Germany is debatable. There is some consensus for 748 but it may have been earlier. Leoba was installed as abbess of Bischofsheim in the region of Frankfurt. Boniface, the papal legate for the German Lands, entrusted her with much authority, so that she was not simply in charge of her own house but of all the nuns in the region. 

 

 

Statue of St Leoba at Schornsheim

 

Leoba was an extraordinary organiser and a woman of great learning. She transmitted a love of reading to her nuns and founded the monasteries of Kitzingen and Ochsenfurt. In addition, bishops consulted her and she was the only woman allowed to enter the male houses to consult with monastic leaders. Leoba was invited to the court of Pippin III, where she enjoyed great favour. Hildegard, later wife of Charlemagne, was her friend.

In later life Leoba retired with other Anglo-Saxon nuns to Schornsheim, near Mainz on an estate given to her by Charlemagne. There she died on 28 September 782.

Several miracles have been attributed to Leoba both during her life and after her death. During her lifetime, Leoba was responsible for many miracles: saving a village from fire; saving a town from a terrible storm,; and saving the life of a fellow nun who was gravely ill, feeding her off her own silver spoon. All of these miracles were completed through prayer. Leoba's grave was also the site of many miracles. These miracles include: freeing a man of tightly bound iron rings around his arms; and curing a man from Spain of his twitching disorder.