When I saw a new article from Smithsonian Magazine about coins, I expected to find it was written by a National Numismatic Collection curator. As it turns out, it was simply written based on articles in The Guardian and elsewhere. But anyway, here's an update on the case of the men arrested for illegally selling a medieval coin hoard. See the earlier E-Sylum articles for more background. Thanks to Arthur Shippee for passing along the Guardian article as well.
Several years ago, police in England conducted a dramatic sting operation to recover 44 missing ninth-century coins. Now, two men, Roger Pilling and Craig Best, have been sentenced to more than five years in prison for conspiring to sell them.
Two of these coins are particularly unusual: Each depicts both Alfred the Great, the king of Wessex, and Ceolwulf II, the king of Mercia. While Ceolwulf is usually considered a minor historical figure, the coins suggest that his role could have been far more significant.
The coins literally enable us to rewrite history, says Gareth Williams, the curator of early medieval coins at the British Museum, per the Guardian's Mark Brown.
History has long portrayed Alfred the Great as a heroic leader who successfully fought off Viking invasions. In contrast, Ceolwulf has gone down in history as a puppet ruler beholden to the Vikings.
These coins, however, depict both kings, showing
beyond any possible doubt that there was a political and economic alliance, says Wiliams in a statement from the Durham Constabulary.
Together the two kings carried out a major reform of the coinage, introducing high-quality silver coins, with the ‘two emperors' design symbolizing this alliance.
The coins are part of a larger treasure that two metal detectorists uncovered in Herefordshire, England, in 2015. The find qualified as treasure under the 1996 Treasure Act, which established protocols for when treasure hunters are required to report their discoveries.
The men, however, did not report the treasure. In 2019, both were given jail time.
The treasure belongs to the nation, Judge Nicholas Cartwright said at the sentencing, per Steven Morris of the Guardian.
The benefit to the nation is [that] these items can be seen and admired by others.
To read the complete articles, see:
These Ninth-Century Coins Change Our Understanding of Alfred the Great
Two men guilty of conspiring to sell history-changing Anglo-Saxon coins
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
VIKING COIN HOARD SEIZED
ANGLO-SAXON HOARD COIN STING
Wayne Homren, Editor
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