Henry VIII Silver Coins Declared Treasure

June 25th, 2016 by

Traditionally, an excavation in Nottinghamshire would be considered by many a fruitless exercise. A hoard has been discovered, though, that has left these same skeptics wide-eyed and slack-jawed. But it isn’t just the site of this find that has proven peculiar—no, the items belonged to a historical figure who has become more legend than man: King Henry VIII.

Half-Groat of Henry VIII, Misterton Hoard Portable Antiquities Scheme (UK)[CC BY 2.0]

Half-Groat of Henry VIII, Misterton Hoard
Portable Antiquities Scheme (UK)[CC BY 2.0]

Last year, a man identified as Mr. Chapman discovered the hoard in the village of Misterton in  England’s Nottinghamshire. The Treasure Act of 1996 says that those who happen upon valuable items must report to the Coroner’s court within two weeks. It is customary for the coroner to offer the finder and landowner compensation for turning in the treasures. No one, however, was able to foresee the significance of this discovery.

Having been hauled into Nottingham Coroner’s Court, the 11 coins would undergo examination and on Tuesday morning, assistant coroner Stephanie Haskey made her official declaration: the pieces were, in fact, “treasures.” These pieces met the requirement of being 10% precious metal and 300 years old.

Barrie Cook, the British Museum’s curator of medieval and early modern coinage, determined the King’s hoard—comprised of groats and six-pence pieces—dates back to a period between 1526 and 1544.

“This is a nice find of some good silver coins. I am happy to confirm it is a treasure find. They will no doubt appear on public display in the future,” said Haskey.

Henry VIII
(Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger 1497/8) [Public domain]

Life of Henry VIII

King Henry VIII took control of England in 1502, after his older brother the heir apparent died. He lived a pious and sheltered existence prior to assuming the throne, but was quickly acclimated to the lifestyle. He became a ruthless monarch and warrior and even used his powers to circumvent the Pope.

Considering himself above religious marital law, King Henry VIII would, in the span of his rule, take on a multitude of wives. When unsatisfied, he would simply divorce his current wife (or chop her head off) and find himself a new one. He would repeat this practice until he had a total of six marriages on his resumé.

The king lived an extravagant lifestyle and eventually became so heavy-set that he literally had to be winched onto his horse. King Henry VIII died in 1547, purportedly after a battle with diabetes.

King Henry VIII was a man of incredible stature (both figuratively and physically); it should come as no surprise then that there was no conceivable limit to his appetite. His penchant for food, women and of course riches led stories of the monarch, as the colorful as they were, to take on a life of their own. Nevertheless, it’s always fun to find something that makes history a little more real, and a little more immediate.

Other Discoveries

But the grounds of Nottinghamshire prove even richer still with yet another discovered hoard. Nearly 300 coins from ancient Rome were found in the tiny town of Harworth.

The coins were unearthed by Archaeological Services WYAS (West Yorkshire Archaeology Service), the firm tasked with digging up and surveying the area in order to make way for development by land owner Persimmon Homes. The British Museum determined the coins originated in the third century.

Two medieval rings discovered last year—one made of silver discovered by Chapman and one struck from gold dating back to 1150—were also declared treasure.

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