Studies in Early Medieval Coinage

Volume 1: Two Decades of Discovery

Managing Editor: Tony Abramson

The exceptionally variety and iconography of early Medieval coinage, particularly Anglo-Saxon thrymsas and sceattas represent a curiously neglected but remarkably rich resource for all those – numismatists, art historians, archaeologists, medievalists, collectors and detectorists, economic and monetary historians - with an interest in this period. Whilst later Anglo-Saxon coinage has been covered extensively in the numismatic literature, very few works address the complex questions of C7-8th coinage.

The coins reflect the political and religious milieu of this chaotic period with a wide variety of issuers vying for attention. Ecclesiastical, regal and mercantile sources, whose objectives include both propaganda and supplying a trading medium, address a largely illiterate public by the exploitation of vivid imagery, which is often intentionally ambiguous to widen currency amongst peoples of different traditions – British, Germanic, Celtic, Frisian, Nordic and Christian.

Whilst the low survival rate makes this an exceptionally rare coinage, die study indicates that the circulating medium was substantial, probably something of the order of 100 million sceattas were issued, certainly sufficient to support a more vibrant and penetrating domestic and continental economy than has often been portrayed.

Whilst the module of the coinage is small (usually c10mm diameter) and the levels of engraving skill and technical expertise often deficient, an impressive amount of data is carried on and by each coin, beyond its typically charismatic obverse and reverse motifs. Provenance, archaeological context, metrology, die marks and contemporary imitations all contribute to our knowledge and understanding, to augment and complement knowledge derived from more conventional sources – stone sculpture, illuminated manuscript, contemporary artefacts and archealogical data.

This volume, hopefully the first of a series, will not only contain the Proceedings of early medieval coinage symposia but also other articles addressing this topic from an interdisciplinary perspective to reveal more about this neglected, yet rich, resource.


SiEMC, volume 1, contents:

Acknowledgements & Preface: Tony Abramson

Part One: Proceedings of the International Sceatta Symposium, 8th April 2006
Michael Metcalf - 21 Years of Progress
John Newman - Series Q - The Archeaological Perspective
Ian Wood - Thrymsas, Sceattas and the Cult of the Cross
Tony Abramson - Some New Types
Anna Gannon - Series K and L
Claus Feveile - Series X and coin circulation in Ribe
Mark Blackburn - The 2006 Symposium and beyond

Part Two: Additional Papers
Wybrand op Den Velde - The sceattas of Series D
Mike Bonser & Tony Carter - Sceattas from a site in Essex
Philip Shaw - Orthographical Standardisation
Richard Hodges - Fifty years after Dunning
Arent Pol - A New Sceat of the Dorestad/Madelinus Type

Part Three: Collections and Accumulations
Tony Abramson et al - The Beowulf Collection
Tony Abramson - The Patrick Finn Sceatta Index


SiEMC Advisory Council

Managing Editor: Tony Abramson, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds.

Rory Naismith Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge,
James Booth, University of Hull,
Anna Gannon, University of Cambridge,
Michael Metcalf, former Keeper of the Heberden Coin Room, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Gareth Williams, British Museum.


               204pp, p/b © Contributors, 2008. Production: The Boydell Press