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A group of detectorists has recently discovered a haul of over 2,000 silver coins in Somerset, based in the south-west of England. These coins are thought to date back to the turbulent period following the Norman conquest of England in 1066. After defeating Harold II and taking the throne, William of Normandy was confronted by frequent rebellion. In response, the Norman invaders planted castles to subdue the population. The unearthed coin collection is said to date from these years of unrest during which William was establishing himself on the throne.

Said to be ‘one of the largest hoards ever recovered from the years around 1066’, it includes over 1,000 coins minted in Harold II’s name, as well as a similar number in William’s name. The former had been king for merely ten months at the time of his defeat, so all the coins in his name presumably date from no earlier than January 1066. While it is unclear whom this valuable coin hoard belonged to, historians suggest it may have been a person of high rank, probably from the nobility.

Debate remains between historians as to whether Harold II succeeded to the throne with the approval of his predecessor, Edward the Confessor. Others maintain that he seized the throne in haste to prevent it falling to another candidate such as William of Normandy, who was his second cousin and who had claimed that Edward the Confessor had promised the throne to him. Debates also exist on the extent to which the 1066 invasion disrupted the operations of the Anglo-Saxon state. The discovery of this coin collection will help historians shed new light on the era and on such debates.

Applicants for History can delve deeper in exploration by considering how findings, such as this one, may significantly help shed light on life during past eras, particularly revealing important socio-economic characteristics of different periods throughout time.

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