Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Two Saxon penny fragments

I recently photographed and posted a message on FORVM (site link left) about a Saxon penny I have of king Edgar. At the same time I photographed two other penny fragments in my posession.
The first coin is of Burgred of Mercia made by the moneyer CENRED (the remnants of his name "....ENRED" can be seen across the centre of the reverse).

Burgred ruled Mercia between 852 and 874 and was successful in a campaign to subdue northern Wales. However, it was a period of Danish raids and he had to appeal to the kings of Wessex, Ethelred and Ethelred's brother Alfred (the Great). Unfortunately the Danes managed to drive Burgred from his kindom and he fled to Rome where he spent the remainder of his life, and was buried, according to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, in the church of Sancta Maria in the "eternal city".
The second coin is one of Ethelred, 865-71, much scarcer than the Burgred coin, made by the moneyer Manninc (and again "MANN......" can be seen across the centre of the reverse). The portrait side of the coin also exhibits the Saxon D for the letters TH as the king's name "AEDELR....." runs around the top of the coin. He was killed at the battle of Merton, 23 April 871, one of eight battles he fought that year against the Danes.

The site of the battle is unknown. Suggestions include the borders of the London Borough of Merton, Merton in Oxfordshire, Marden in Wiltshire or Martin in Dorset. The more westerly locations tend to be favoured because King Ethelred was buried in Wimborne Minster in Dorset shortly afterwards.

A further and more likely location for the battle is Merriton, on the banks of the River Stour, a few miles downstream of Wimborne, thus providing a simple journey by barge with the body of King Ethelred. The medieval manor of Merriton was situated on what is now the southern perimeter of Bournemouth (Hurn) Airport.

Given the links between the two kindoms it is perhaps not surprising that the design of the two coins is similar