Edward the Confessor, 1042-1066, sovereign & eagles penny, Ulfcetl of York, ex-Elmore Jones

Session 2

Abstracts - Session 2

1. Gareth Williams:
‘Was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England a queen?’
A possible posthumous coinage in the name of Harold II.

Despite his comparatively short reign, Harold II was able to establish a full national coinage along the lines of his predecessors. This was minted in a number of towns across the kingdom, and is known both from single finds and a number of hoards deposited both before and shortly after the Norman Conquest.  It has previously been noted that Wilton, normally only a very minor mint, struck an unusually large coinage in the name of Harold, much of which appears to have been struck from unofficial dies. However, it has previously passed unnoticed  that this imbalance is not apparent in any of the hoards dating from Harold's own reign, or in the stray finds assemblage, but only in the Soberton hoard, which dates from early in William's reign.

This paper will argue that a possible interpretation for this is large-scale minting at Wilton, without access to the regular die-cutters, after Hastings but before William had established firm control. Given Wilton's association with the house of Godwine, and particularly with Edith (widow of Edward the Confessor and sister of Harold II), this possibility raises interesting questions about political dynamics in England in the immediate aftermath of Hastings.

2. Tom Williams
'Coins in Context: Minting in the borough of Wallingford'

As part of The Wallingford Burh to Borough Research Project,  a study is being carried out into the coins minted in Wallingford, from the first minting in the early tenth century until the end of the mint in the reign of Henry III. The focus of the study is the coins themselves, but it also draws on archaeological and historical evidence to place the development of the mint in context. In particular, the study considers the mint in relation to the changing role and status of the settlement of Wallingford, as part of the larger research project. However, in order to evaluate this, it is also necessary to consider the wider relationship between mints and boroughs, and the role of coinage both within the economy and within the late Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Angevin states. This paper will present a digest of the main results of the study.

3. Henry Fairbairn
‘The value and metrology of salt in the late eleventh century’

Salt was a commodity as fundamental and ubiquitous in the late Anglo-Saxon period as it is today.  Previous research into the foodstuff has focused on its extraction, saltpan values (Hagen, 1998) and magnate interest in Droitwich (Whitelock, 1952).  This paper will use evidence from Domesday Book to look more closely at the price of salt itself.  Allied to this is the grey area of medieval weights and measures.  Analysing sources both pre and post-Conquest I shall attempt to shed light on the meanings and capacities of ambers, mittae, summae and sesters of salt to get a sense of their everyday values.  Comparisons of salt prices with other Domesday commodities, as well as to their related tolls and fines, will yield a more rounded insight into the impact of salt on all in society from pauper to prince.