Metal detector discovers rare gold thrymsa between 650 and 750 AD

A tiny gold coin from medieval England, one of nine known examples, headlined the Dix Noonan Webb auctions on March 8-9 in London.

The circa AD 650-750 gold thrymsa, also known as a shilling, is graded extremely fine and is struck in the center with all inscriptions visible, according to the auction house.

It made £18,600 ($24,483 US) including 24% buyer’s fees, against an estimate of £8,000 to £10,000 ($10,509 to $13,136).

It was purchased at auction by a dealer for a client, according to the auction house.

The piece was discovered in Haslingfield in south Cambridgeshire on January 3, 2022 by 55-year-old drainage engineer Mark Pallett from Brentwood in Essex using a metal detector. Pallett found the piece in a stubble field where he had been several times before, with his Minelab Equinox 800.

The coin joins eight examples of this “Crispus” type that have been registered in the Early Medieval Coins database at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the auction company said.

Following the sale, father-of-three Mark, who has been detecting for nearly 40 years, said: ‘I’m really overwhelmed with the price the piece has reached and I’m happy for myself and the farmer who will receive the half of the product. I thought about buying a new detector with the money, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with my current one as it helped me find this wonderful piece!

The coin measures 13 millimeters in diameter and weighs 1.3 grams, smaller and much lighter than a current Roosevelt penny.

Find the part

In his 38 years of detecting, Pallett has concluded that his best finds always come in the first two weeks of January, and on that occasion he once again knew he was about to find gold. gold.

“It’s almost like a voice in your head telling you where to look,” he said, through the auction house.

Pallett “has a sixth sense for finding gold coins and has even used dowsing rods to dowse them with great success,” the firm said.

The coin’s discoverer originally thought it was a small button with a cross in the center.

After only 15 minutes of being in the field, he received a weak signal and dug 4 inches, where the coin was buried.

“At first he didn’t think the coin was real, but when he turned it over he saw the image of a helmeted male bust and realized it was something very special,” according to the auction house. “He was shaking so badly he couldn’t believe what he found, he showed it to his friends and put it safely in his pocket.”

Context of the problem

The British and Fitzwilliam museums each have only one example in their collections, while Metcalf’s corpus in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum lists no examples present.

Due to the wide blank used to strike this coin, the runic inscription is clearly readable from right to left. Scholar Marion Archibald has proposed that “Delaiona” was a mint signature (of London); however, in the face of conflicting evidence, it may be best to interpret this as a personal name, the company said.

Nigel Mills, Consultant at Dix Noonan Webb, said: “The design is based on an obsolete Roman coin of Emperor Crispus from the 4th century AD. The legend includes runic text which translated into Latin is Delaiona (from Laiona) which may refer to the coiner who minted the coin.

Mills continued: “The earliest Anglo-Saxon or Futhark runes [name derived from transliterating the first six runes in the sequential list of 24 in an early Runic “alphabet”] originate from the Germanic peoples and were sometimes included alongside the Latin text on coins in Britain in the 7th century. The most famous discovery of thrymsas was at Sutton Hoo in the ship’s burial when 37 were found in 1939. Additionally, the Crondall hoard found in 1828 contained 100 gold coins.

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