Chew Valley hoard Image copyright Pippa Pearce
Image caption The hoard is the largest Norman treasure find since 1833

A huge hoard of coins dating back to the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings could be declared as treasure.

The 2,528 silver coins were found in the Chew Valley, north-east Somerset, by a group of metal detectorists.

Lisa Grace and Adam Staples, who unearthed the bulk of the hoard, said: “We’ve been dreaming of this for 15 years but it’s finally come true.”

The British Museum said it was the second largest find of Norman coins ever in the UK.

The coins, which date from just after the Battle of Hastings in 1066, depict both the defeated King Harold II and the triumphant William the Conqueror.

Once the hoard is officially declared as treasure, the Roman Baths in Bath hopes to acquire the coins.

The Chew Valley hoard contains 1,236 coins of Harold II, the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England, and 1,310 coins of William I, as well as several coin fragments.

Image copyright Pippa Pearce
Image caption Examples of “mule” coins which used dies from both reigns were found

Ms Grace and Mr Staples found the first batch of coins in January. They said: “It’s an amazing feeling to have unearthed this spectacular hoard.”

More were unearthed by five fellow metal detectorists who joined in the search.

Experts say the “very well-preserved” hoard is “hugely significant” as it contains double the number of Harold coins than all the previous known finds combined.

It also includes further examples of coins issued by William I after his coronation on Christmas Day in 1066.

Initial studies indicate previously unrecorded mints for both kings’ coins in the haul.

Image copyright Pippa Pearce
Image caption The Harold II coins and William the Conqueror coins were found by metal detectorists in Chew Valley

Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coinage at the British Museum, said: “This is an extremely significant find for our understanding of the impact of the Norman Conquest of 1066.

“One of the big debates amongst historians is the extent to which there was continuity or change, both in the years immediately after the conquest and across a longer period.”

Some “mule” coins in the hoard have designs from dies of both reigns on either side.

Experts say this is an early example of tax evasion as the coin maker would re-use an outdated die on one side to avoid paying a fee to obtain the up-to-date design.

Senior conservator Pippa Pearce added the coins are “very well preserved” due to “a lucky combination of good quality silver going into ground that contains nothing too corrosive”.

Paul Crossley, from Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “If we are able to acquire the coins, we will work to display them locally, as well as partnering with the British Museum to make them available for loan to other exhibitions so that they can be seen by a wider audience.”

The find has yet to be declared as treasure by the Avon coroner.


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