A Sheffield metal detectorist has discovered a unique 12th century silver penny from the reign of King Stephen that has opened a new chapter in medieval English coinage.
The silver penny found near Nottingham was minted in the early 1140s by Robert de Ferrers, the second Earl of Derby, and is of a type never seen before. Central authority had broken down across England, due to a protracted civil war known as The Anarchy. King Stephen, a grandson of William the Conqueror and nephew of Henry I, had taken the throne of England after Henry's death. He was opposed by the Empress Matilda, Henry's daughter.
The chaos resulted in a shortage of currency, so powerful nobles such as the Earl of Derby began issuing their own coinage. As The Star reports, this coin was struck at Tutbury Castle, Derby's seat of power, and is a unique design never seen before. In fact, until the discovery of this coin, it was not known that any coins at all had been struck at Tutbury.
The metal detectorist, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that he has been at the hobby for four years, and this is his first significant find. Expected to fetch at least £10,000 ($16,600) at auction on April 2, the proceeds will be split between the treasure hunter and the landowner of the field where it was discovered.