|  A PIECE OF HENRY'S GOLD |
I had been to this site before and had a little success but not as much as the physical evidence suggested. There was a small church and an old Manor House that looked in the main to be Jacobean and just two farm cottages still standing. There must have been at least a hamlet somewhere near the Church and this was confirmed by pottery sherds in the plough soil dating from the Medieval period. A small track led past the Church and the available field was on the other side of this so I decided to start opposite the Church using this as a marker. I had searched for some time and the soil was 'busy' but apart from scrappy bits nothing was coming up of any importance. Then 'bang' a really solid signal came though the headphones and after turning over a good clump of soil with my trowel I was holding the artefact in Picture 1.
This is one of the two arms (or bar) from a purse-frame and you can clearly see the loops to which the fabric of the purse was attached. It is nicely inlaid with niello and inscribed on one side GA: CIA PLE and on the other A DOMINV. This Latin inscription is part of the greeting by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation and is still used as a common Catholic prayer today:-
The other side bar, which I did not find, would certainly have had the first part on one side AVE MARIA and on its other side the continuation probably with abbreviations TECVM BENEDICTA TV. The full inscription may therefore have been:-
It is difficult to stop looking at such a great find but eventually I placed it (very carefully!) in my finds pouch and decided to continue searching. A more intensive search method was obviously now required so I got a couple of canes that I always carried in my car and proceeded to work between these moving one of them along a detector-sweep width at the end of every length of my search area. Ears straining I continued my search for another hour or so but nothing else was coming up and curiosity was getting the better of me. I wasn't absolutely sure who or what the coin was and I was itching to get home and identify it. With my trusty Seaby catalogue it didn't take too long to tie it down as a half sovereign (10 shillings) of Henry VIII (Seaby 2391). That was a lot of money in those days and almost certainly the purse frame and coin would have belonged to someone from the Manor House. Apparently the dies for these coins were never the best and this coin is about as good as they get so it was fairly new when lost.
The mint mark is an arrow dating this coin to 1547-1549 so it is a posthumous coin using Henry's name but actually issued during the reign of Edward VI. The half sovereign of this posthumous issue is the only denomination to depict the youthful figure of Edward VI enthroned on the obverse. The legend reads:-
Of course I have searched the find spot diligently on many occasions since and have recovered the loop by which the purse was suspended from the belt, a possible part of the closure and a small swivel link. These are illustrated above in Picture 3. Sadly no more coins have ever been found. The Coroner kept the coin for a while and then he duly returned it to me as a single find and not subject to the Treasure Trove Act. I eventually wrote about my find for Treasure Hunting magazine and it appeared on the front cover that you see in Picture 4.