Silver pennies of Ethelred II

Cissbury, West Sussex, AD 978-1016

From square to round

These two coins between them provide useful information on how Anglo-Saxon coins were made. We know that coins in this period were struck between two dies, and a few examples of coin dies from this time have survived. These coins of Ethelred II's 'Last Small Cross' type were struck from the same pair of dies, issued in the name of the moneyer Ciolnoth of Cissbury.

We can see from these coins that the design was struck onto square flans, rather than the round shape which we normally associate with coins. It was only afterwards that the coins were trimmed to the right shape, and the edges smoothed with repeated gentle hammering. Untrimmed coins like this are rarely found in England, because they would not normally have been issued. They are more common from Viking-Age Scandinavia, where early coins were valued only by their weight, and where, often, less care was taken in the preparation both of the dies and of the coins.

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Silver pennies of Ethelred II

Square silver penny

  • Round silver penny

    Round silver penny


More information


H.A. Grueber and C.F. Keary, A catalogue of English coins i (London, 1893)

K. Jonsson, The new era: the reformation o (Stockholm, 1987)

D.M. Metcalf, An atlas of Anglo-Saxon and No (London, Royal Numismatic Society, 1998)


Weight: 2.310 g (a: square)
Weight: 2.310 g (a: square)
Width: 20.000 mm (both coins)

Museum number

CM 1935-11-17-484 (a);CM 1896-4-4-94 (b)


(a) Bequeathed by T.G. Barnett


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