Drawings of Anglo-Saxons


Drawings of objects

Anglo-Saxon Coins

What was Anglo-Saxon money like?

click on these questions to see find out more

Every coin tells a story

What story does this coin tell us?

This coin can tell us:

  • Who the king was and what he may have looked like - this coin has King Alfred on it.
  • When and where the coin was made - this coin was made in London during Alfred's reign sometime between AD871-899.
  • Where there was a royal mint - in this case London.
  • Who made the coin - this coin was made by Tilevine

Coin of Alfred the Great

Coin of King Alfred

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The History of Anglo-Saxon Coins

Early Anglo-Saxon Coins AD450-700

When the Romans left, just after AD400, coins stopped being made. The early Anglo-Saxons did not use coins, but they did re-use some Roman coins. Some coins were brought over from the Continent, from places like France. Coins like this were found in the Sutton Hoo burial.

During the seventh century (AD600-699) the Anglo-Saxons started to make their own coins. Kings wanted coins to show their importance and wealth, to use in trade, and because mints were profitable.

In this early period coins were made of gold and were very valuable so they were not used for everyday tranactions. Most people used barter, which involved exchanging goods rather than coins.


Coin drawn by Justine age 10

Coin drawn by Justine age 10

7th Century Anglo-Saxon Coin
Drawings by Justine age 10

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Later Anglo-Saxon Coins (AD700-1066)

Coins began to be more widely used during the eighth century (AD700-799), especially in southern and eastern England.

Each kingdom had its own coins with their own king's head on those coins. A trader who was travelling between kingdoms would need to change their coins into the local currency - just as people do today when they travel aboard.

Over time as there were fewer and fewer kingdoms there were less types of coins but more mints producing coins. Thus there were more coins in circulation. Coins started to be made of silver instead of gold.

Coin drawn by Joe age 10 1/2

Coin of King Harold (AD1066)
Drawing by Joe age 10 1/2

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What did the Anglo-Saxons use coins for?

The earliest Anglo-Saxon coins were used by rich and important people as gifts, to buy land, to pay fines and taxes and for long distance trade.

During the later ninth to eleventh centuries (AD850-AD1066) coins became more common. Therefore more people could use them to buy objects.

Today we have coins with lots of different values but the Anglo-Saxons did not have as many types of coins with different values. So to reduce the value of a coin they would cut it in half or in quarters. For example, if a coin was worth one penny but they wanted to buy something worth half a penny then they would cut a penny coin in half and use half the coin. Archeaologists often find these cut coins.

Scales drawn by Helena

Scales used for weighting coins
Drawing by Helena age 8

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