In this latest publication in the ‘50 Finds’ series from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, John Naylor draws on a selection of 50 early medieval coins from the 10,000 recorded in the PAS database to present a sweeping yet engaging history of developments in trade, religion, and the rise and fall of kingdoms across England and Wales from the end of Roman rule around AD 410 to the Norman Conquest of 1066.
In succinct detail, Naylor investigates each coin as a window into historical turning points, royal figures, and Church history, as well as the lives of ordinary people. The minting, find-spot, and material of the coin illustrates the burgeoning networks of international trade and the rise in craft specialisation as centres became more urbanised. The legacy of Viking invasion and conquest in the Danelaw is not only conveyed through place-names or language, but also in spectacular coin hoards found in England. Yet coins were also vessels for ideas of kingship, religious beliefs, and identity, communicated through their iconography – ideas which led to their conversion into jewellery and inclusion within burials.
50 Finds of Early Medieval Coinage. John Naylor, Amberley Publishing, £15.99, ISBN 978-1445695327.
Review by Florence Chilver.