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Local Metal Detector
Enthusiast Uncovers
A Hoard of Medieval
Silver Coins...

Above, the obverse of one of the silver groats, showing the head of King Edward III (1327 - 1377). It is enclosed in an ornamental frame of nine small arches. The legend from the top in a clockwise direction reads: "Edward D. G. Rex Angl. z. France. D. Hyb.".

Top right, the reverse. The plain cross extends to the edge, with three pellets in the angles. The legend in the inner circle reads: "London Civitas", around the outside: "Posui Deum Adjutorem Meum".

 

Local metal detector enthusiast, Sean Flook, discovered a hoard of over thirty medieval silver coins in the Caerleon area. You might call him lucky, considering he had only been detecting four months - but he says luck had nothing to do with it. "I do my research thoroughly," he told me. "Aerial photographs, old maps local knowledge. And I have a top of the range detector, a Minelab Explorer XS. This is a superb instrument, it discriminates between different metals and I've detected coins up to a depth of 45 centimetres. I work systematically and put in all the hours I can."

The hoard was found in Ultra Pontem, Caerleon. In olden times this lay on the main route into Caerleon from the South and East via the old wooden bridge, which spanned the River Usk by the Hanbury Arms. "Ultra Pontem" literally means "beyond the bridge" and there is evidence that it has been inhabited continuously since Roman times. Nowadays traffic bypasses "The Village" along New Road, built some time in the early 1800s.

   

The coins were handed in to the Roman Legionary Museum, Caerleon, and the discovery reported to the coroner. They included:

 
   

Edward I (1272 - 1307)
several varieties of silver pennies

 
   
   
   

Edward III (1327 - 1377)
silver pennies and groats

 
   
   
       

Richard II (1377 - 1399)
silver groat

     
       
   

The exact location of the discovery is a carefully kept secret, but Sean is confident all the coins have been unearthed. "The amount of ground I shifted, I could have done with a JCB," he said.

It is interesting to speculate how and why the coins ended up where they were found. They mostly date from the 14th century, the most recent being 1399 at the latest. Now, the early 1400s were a turbulent time in Wales. Owain Glyndwr (supposedly a descendant of a long line of British kings) led a successful rebellion against the English/Norman Lords. The insurrection started in North Wales, and in the summer of 1402 Glyndwr's army burst into Gwent. According to "Adam of Usk" Owain captured the castles at Usk, Caerleon and Newport and burned the towns to the ground. Owen's arrival in Caerleon must have been nervously anticipated, and could easily explain why the coins were buried. What became of their owner we can only guess.

For whatever reason the coins ended up where they were, there they lay for 600 years, until Sean discovered them.

 
Update

The Department of Archaeology & Numismatics of the National Museums & Galleries of Wales consider the Owain Glyndwr association unlikely for the following reasons:

"… all of the groats have been clipped to the 60-grain weight standard, which replaced the earlier 80-grain standard in 1412. (Coins of Henry IV and V are relatively scarce, so their absence need not surprise.) The group is therefore likely to belong to the period c. 1412 - 1422, since it lacks the early issues of Henry VI, which are very common and might be expected in a later assemblage. What we appear to have is a sample of circulating currency of the second decade of the fifteenth century, hidden or accidentally lost."
   
 

Owain Glyndwr on the Web:
The Owain Glyndwr Society

 
     
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