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Hammered Coinage

1602 James VI of Scotland Thistle Merk

This superb silver coin was found in April, 2012 after a hard day's hunting! On about hour 6 of 8 that day, I got a repeatable yet slightly broken signal showing 38 on the screen of the Minelab XTerra 705. I knew that this target could be something decent, but honestly, at best I was expecting a Victorian era onward Penny or Half Penny. I began digging and had missed lifting the target out in the plug first time, however the pinpointer (White's Bullseye II, at the time) was showing that I wasn't far away, good news!

1602 James VI of Scotland Thistle Merk

Another shovel load of earth did the trick, and I was soon looking at this rather large silver disc in my hand. I had less than no clue what I was looking at at the time. Having only been detecting for about 2 months, I barely knew what a hammered coin was, but knew I was looking at something old with a story that promised history! Researching back home on the internet, I soon discovered what this coin was and when it was minted, giving me an unforgettable, awe striking experience that I won't soon forget. As you can see from both images, detail is lacking but still present - enough to appreciate this excellent coin in all of it's 400 year old glory!


1268-1294 Voided Longcross, 'Cut Half' Brabant Penny

Issued under Jean I (Duke of Brabant,) this fantastic find; made in June 2013 at a detectingscotland.com Sunday dig, provided my first hammered coin find since April 2012 (see above.) Wandering the fields at around 3pm, I was fairly on my own in a massive field. The area I had been concentrating on had been producing several coin finds throughout the day and I came over to try my luck, as signals had been lacking down in the middle of the field where I had been searching..

1268-1294 Voided Longcross, 'Cut Half' Brabant Penny

Some time later, I had covered a good few lines up and down the left side of this massive rolling field when a nice 12-06 signal rings through on the CTX 3030. Not expecting anything major, as foil had appeared on several occasions already - I dug a plug and flipped it over. Barely two inches down in plough soil I prodded with the Propointer and pushed the dirt aside to reveal a small clump of earth with a little semi-circle in it. I knew I had my first hammered find in over a year almost instantly! Yes!

1268-1294 Voided Longcross, 'Cut Half' Brabant Penny
What surprised me was the age of the find. I had noticed the what I thought was a triangle on the coins obverse, this made me think it was an Irish cut half Penny ca. 15th century. The ID came back and the triangle had quickly changed into a shield with lion rampant! This was an imported hammered silver coin, originating in the Dutch lowlands - it was smuggled into the country to be provided as change, mimicking the longcross style of English coinage intentionally. In return, the merchant would hoard English coinage, which had a much higher conversion value when compared with Scottish coinage of the similar denomination. Great to find a bit of this history and have it in my hands!

Pictured with a current British Five Pence for scale, 18mm Diameter.


1205-1207 King John Cut Half Silver Voided Shortcross  Penny, class 5b

My second hammered coin find for 2013 and my second cut half find for 2013! Another detectingscotland.com Sunday dig provides me with this King John Class 5b silver Penny. Heading over to an area where a hammered cut half had been found by another detectorist in the morning paid off, and I went home with a lovely find.

As a side note, it actually read 12-18 in the ground, as it was in the hole with a Victorian Farthing. Ploughed farmland can throw up any number of surprises!

1205-1207 King John Cut Half Silver Voided Shortcross Penny, class 5b

At 1205-07, it beats my Brabant cut half to being my oldest hammered silver find by more than half a century and eerily echoes the signal it gives on the CTX3030!
As it turned out, it is of an unusual mint, with the inscription of moneyer and mint reading 'MILES ON OXSE[N]' - Miles at Oxford

Great stuff for my first English hammered! 


1561 Elizabeth I Hammered Silver Longcross Three Halfpence

Attending the Minelab Owners Rally pays off! On the first morning of searching, I picked out an area of the field where I'd happened on a George VI Half Penny within 10 minutes. I decided to grid the area and before long I had a strong signal to dig. Barely 3" down in plough soil, I flipped over the dirt to reveal the sight you see!

1561 Elizabeth I Hammered Silver Longcross Three Halfpence

A quick splash of water reveals the unmistakable shield and longcross of a tiny hammered coin. Although the other side was practically smooth, I was delighted to pick up a hammered before lunch on day one!

1561 Elizabeth I Hammered Silver Longcross Three Halfpence

At only 14mm, it really is no wonder that these coins were dropped never to be seen again by their original owners. One's loss is another's gain however, and in this case I'm delighted to be able to gain a fine coin for my collection after all these years of it laying in the dirt!


1561-1582 Elizabeth I Hammered Silver Longcross Three Farthings

"The three-farthings is rather a thin coin, and Shakespeare in King John (I,i,143) quotes:

..my face so thin,
That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose,

Lest men should say, "Look, where three-farthings goes!"

Recovered in November 2013, during the survey of the Battlefield of Pitreavie/Inverkeithing, this was a great find. Not least as it was deemed to be of an age where it could have conceivably been in use during the time of Oliver Cromwell's invading English forces! I was pleased to be able to make a contribution to the survey for the archaeologist to ponder over, and of course, find a lovely piece of history from around about the time of one of the historically pivotal Scottish battles.
1561-1582 Elizabeth I Hammered Silver Longcross Three Farthings

The morning session went by with lots of iron finds, buttons and copper alloy scrap making up the bulk of the finds, it would be the afternoon before I made this find at the exact opposite end of the field where I had headed out detecting!

1561-1582 Elizabeth I Hammered Silver Longcross Three Farthings

I am pleased to present the battlefield survey, as written up by Fife County Archaeologist, Douglas Spiers. Particular detail pertaining to the Threefarthings find is toward the end of the report in the 'Coinage' section.
Pitreavie Battlefield Metal Detecting Survey

A metal detecting survey, led by D Speirs and undertaken by detectorists from DetectingScotland.com on Sat/Sun 9th/10th Nov, 2013, was undertaken on the  20 acre field site planned for development of a park and choose scheme at Pitreavie, Dunfermline, Fife.

The field was divided using a 10m grid system and the site surveyed by a team of seven detectorists. Finds where plotted per 10m2 to allow spatial patterning to be observed.

A total 127 metal objects were retrieved. The vast majority were non-diagnostic nails, rivets and unidentifiable ferrous objects of post-medieval date. Four lead seals were recovered, three of which were 18th/19th century cloth/bag seals and one a 20th century railway lead seal. A number of non-diagnostic post-medieval ferrous and copper alloy buttons were also recovered.

Six coins were recovered:
One worn George VI Sixpence 1947
One worn George VI penny 1939
Two very badly worn copper alloy farthings of James I or Charles I (1603-1649)
One very badly worn copper alloy two pence of Charles II 1649 -1685
One extremely worn hammered three-farthings of Elizabeth I, London mint, eglantine mint mark (1561-1582)

One complete musket ball was recovered along with another impacted musket ball (flattened to a round shape as a result of impact). One further badly deformed piece of lead was recovered. It is possible that this represents a badly deformed large lead shot but this interpretation is speculative.

Only three items recovered (2 copper alloy farthings and one Elizabethan three-farthings) had the possibility of being connected with the 1651 Battle of Pitreavie. The musket balls could not be dated with certainty and could be 17thto 19th century in date.

The general array of metal recovered was typical of the background metal levels common to many Scottish lowland arable fields and the survey revealed no evidence of activities relating to the 1651 Battle of Pitreavie.

The pre-1707 materials will be declared to the Treasure Trove Unit but it is unlikely that they will be claimed. Upon confirmation of this, the recovered materials will be retuned to the finders.

As the Elizabethan three-farthings is an unusual coin find, it is worth noting in more detail.

Hammered Silver Three-Farthings, Elizabeth I, London Mint (1561 – 1582), eglantine mint mark(?)

Queen Elizabeth’s appreciation of the need for small denomination coins to support  daily economic activity is demonstrated by her willingness to mint small denominations.

For the first time three-farthings were struck during the period 1561-1582. Despite the very small size of the three-farthings, it boasted a portrait of Elizabeth that the labouring classes were said to idolize. To facilitate easy identification of the various small denominations, a rose was placed behind the queen's head on the obverse, and the date above the shield on the reverse. The reason for introducing a three-farthing coin was to facilitate the use of a penny when buying an item valued at a farthing (1/4 of a pence). The buyer could tender a penny and receive a three-farthing piece in change. The production of a farthing (1/4 of a pence) coin was considered but this would have been too small to handle and sue with ease, so the idea was never implemented.

The suggestion was put to Elizabeth on a number of occasions that copper coinage might better meet demand for small denominations. The queen refused to sanction what she regarded as base money - a quite different stance to that of her father!

The three-farthing coin was traditionally an uncommon coin, but not as rare as once thought due to recent discoveries by metal detectors.

The three-farthing coin averages 0.35g in weight with a diameter of 1578 mm. These coins were produced, mainly at London, between 1561 and 1582 and have an obverse legend of E.D.G.ROSA SINE SPINA, which stands for 'Elizabeth by the Grace of God, a Rose without a Thorn'. The reverse shows the Royal Arms over a cross with the date above, and the legend CIVITAS LONDON. Known mintmarks, preceding the legend, are pheon, coronet, ermine, acorn, eglantine, plain cross, long cross and sword.


ca. 1300-02 Edward I Longcross Silver Penny

I didn't have to wait long on the day for this find, as the dig started at 9am and I'd had this in front of me by 9:50am! A cracking start to any day, with evident fine detail poking through the dirt.

ca. 1300-02 Edward I Longcross Silver Penny

With the dirt cleaned off, I see a largely unclipped coin, slightly struck off-centre. With 'TOR' being visible in the top right pic, I can tell it's a Canterbury mint Penny.

'CIVI-TAS-CAN-TOR - City of Canterbury'


ca. 350AD, silver Siliqua of Julian II as Caesar
Not the usual 'hammered' coin that you think of, but they were hammered!

Wreath surrounding 'VOTIS V MVLTIS X' with Julian II showing some fine detail on the obverse.
Absolutely delighted with a find that I have always hoped to make! 

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