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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 43, October 25, 2009, Article 19

LONDON NUMISMATIC MYSTERY: ARCHBISHOP'S COINS FOUND IN RIVER

Dave Perkins and another E-Sylum reader forwarded this article about a numismatic mystery from London. -Editor

Britain Treasure Mystery A fresh mystery is gripping Britain's religious community: Just how did a treasure trove of rare medallions and coins collected by a former archbishop of Canterbury end up at the bottom of the River Wear?

The coins, medals, goblets and other religious items were found over the last few years by two divers, Gary and Trevor Bankhead, in the frigid, murky river waters that loop around Durham Cathedral, a Norman-style classic.

Research shows many of the artifacts are linked to the late Michael Ramsey, a former archbishop of Canterbury with longtime ties to Durham, a city 280 miles (450 kilometers) north of London where he served as bishop and spent some of his retirement years before his death in 1988.

"Some of the artifacts appear to have close links to Archbishop Michael Ramsey, who retired to Durham in 1974," the statement read. "These include medals and medallions presented to him during his work and travels as archbishop of Canterbury. There is a silver trowel presented to the archbishop on the occasion of his laying of the foundation stone for a new church in India. Other items include a copper and enamel icon."

In addition, a gold coin apparently given to Ramsey by a Japanese Buddhist leader was found, along with a Russian icon, and precious medals that may have been given to Ramsey when he met Pope Paul VI in Rome in 1966.

"It is not known how these particular artifacts came to be in the river," the statement asserts. "There has been speculation for some time that the archbishop was victim of a burglary and this would seem to confirm it."

But Gary Bankhead does not believe a robbery was involved. Based on the location of the finds, he has concluded that Ramsey himself probably dropped the items into the river.

He thinks some of them were dropped from Prebends Bridge, a popular site near the retirement apartment where Ramsey lived with his wife in their latter years, as a slightly bizarre offering to the people of Durham.

"He was linked to the city since the early 1940s, and it's my belief that he did this as a votive offering to the river and to the people of Durham, who he loved," said Bankhead, who believes the goods may be worth about 25,000 pounds ($41,000).

This unusual interpretation is supported by a friend of Ramsey's who told British newspapers that it is consistent with Ramsey's character that he would have thrown the items in the river.

To read the complete article, see: Former archbishop's treasures found in river (news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091023/ap_on_re_eu/eu_britain_treasure_mystery)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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