British Museum collections, £12.99
Diameter: 12.000 mm
Weight: 1.300 g (typical)
CM 1994-4-24-5, 39, 50, 63, 80, 98
Room 68: Money
Silver pennies from the Woodham Walter hoard
Found at Woodham Walter, Essex,
Around AD 700
An early European monetary union?
Little is known of political relations around the North Sea in the years around AD 700. However, some form of monetary links existed across the area. In the late seventh and early eighth centuries, small silver pennies (sometimes misleadingly known as sceattas) were used in both England and Frisia (modern Netherlands and Belgium). A large number of different designs were used, and in some cases similar designs were used in both Frisia and England.
One of the most common types is the so-called 'Porcupine' type, on which a bust copied from a late Roman coin has become so distorted that it resembles a spiky animal. These coins are now thought to be mostly Frisian, but a small group bears the English name Ethelred (possibly Ethelred of Mercia, AD 674-704).
By around AD 720, pennies of a similar size and weight were also being struck at Ribe in Denmark, and Anglo-Saxon pennies are known which apparently copy the Danish designs. One hoard from Woodham Walter in Essex, part of which is shown here, contains a mixture of coins from Denmark, Frisia, and several different parts of England. This suggests that coins from all these areas circulated within a single monetary economy.
D.M. Metcalf, Thrymsas and sceattas in the A (London, Royal Numismatic Society and Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, 1993-94)