Diameter: 13.000 mm
Weight: 0.660 g
Coins and Medals
Round silver halfpenny of Henry I
Minted at Hereford, western England, AD 1100-35
A rare round halfpenny
For much of the Middle Ages, the only coins in common circulation in western Europe were silver pennies. These might vary in size and quality at different times and in different countries, but the idea of the silver penny was standard. It was only in the later Middle Ages that larger denominations were issued in both gold and silver, together with smaller halfpennies and farthings.
Before this, anyone wanting anything smaller than a penny would simply cut up a penny. The fact that many coin designs featured a cross on the back made it easy to divide them into halves and quarters. There were a few rare issues of proper round halfpennies in the early Middle Ages. They are known from the reigns of just a small number of English rulers, including Henry I (1100-35). This one was issued by the moneyer Ailred of Hereford, and dates from the middle of Henry's reign, althouhg the precise dating is uncertain. It was discovered in London by metal detectorists following excavations at the Thames Exchange.
W.J. Conte and M.M. Archibald, 'Five Round Halfpennies of Henry I: A Further Case for Reappraisal of the Chronology of Types', N. Circ., 98 (1990), pp. 232-6
P. Grierson, Coins of Medieval Europe (London, Seaby, 1991)