​The Long Cross Pennies of Henry III 

Shrewsbury is known as a town of significant medieval heritage, having been founded ca. 800 AD. It was in the late Middle Ages (14th/15th Centuries) when the town was at its height of commercial importance. This was mainly due to the wool trade, a major industry at the time, with the rest of Britain and Europe, especially with the River Severn and Watling Street as trading routes. During the 13th century there was frequent warfare between the English and the Welsh. Shrewsbury was, obviously, in the front line because of its location. In 1215 Shrewsbury was captured by the Welsh under their leader Llewelyn the Great, however the Welsh only held the town for a short time. Nevertheless warfare between the English and the Welsh continued througout the 13th century.

Based on the number of coins in the Brussels and Colchester hoards, 185 and 59 respectively, coins from Shrewsbury mint are the fourth scarcest. The 185 coins documented from the Brussels Hoard are from classes 3ab1, 3b, 3bc and 3c. Class 3bc is the rarest, with only five specimens documented in the Brussels hoard. The four moneyers active at Shrewsbury were Laurence Cox, Nicholas the son of Ives, Peter the son of Clement, and Richard Pride.

In 2007 the largest Medieval coin hoard from Shropshire for some 30 years was discovered by a metal detectorist in the Baschurch area. The original discovery was supplemented by further finds which had been scattered by ploughing, and animal burrowing, over a fairly wide area. The detectorist reported the find to the local FLO, Peter Reavill, who subsequently wrote an interesting article on it for the Searcher magazine.

In addition to a small number of cut coins and fragments, there were eventually a total of 213 identifiable whole pennies – one Scottish one of Alexander, and the remainder all being coins of Henry III.  Remarkably about 65% of the coins were from the Shrewsbury mint – this starkly contrasts with the very low percentage of Shrewsbury coins found in the Brussels and Colchester hoards.

As noted in the Searcher article, the hoard does not seem to reflect the actual output of Shrewsbury; it lacks any coins of class 3c and it also does not represent the output of the four moneyers active at Shrewsbury. Brand’s die-study and the evidence from other hoards suggest that the two most productive moneyers were Nicole and Peris, with the other two, Lorenz and Ricard, perhaps responsible for only half as much of the output. The Baschurch coins, however, include just two pennies of Peris, and a seemingly greatly enhanced proportion of Ricard. This would again indicate a batch acquired in unusual circumstances, and not taken from general currency. The hoard probably represents a core of material initially acquired straight from the Shrewsbury mint and exchange and then kept together for many years.  

Barrie Cook’s study of the hoard concluded that the group of coins might represent a carefully husbanded savings hoard – someone’s emergency stash - occasionally augmented with good money as and when this could be afforded.

Note that there are 185 Shrewsbury coins documented by Churchall and Thomas for the Brussels Hoard, and there are 139 Shrewsbury coins in the Baschurch hoard, making it a potentially significant data source, however only a selection of the coins were retained by a local museum, and many were sold on the open market, thus dispersing this resource.  I understand the coins to have been photographed, and I hope to be able to include some of these images on this website in the future.

With acknowledgements to Peter Reavill for bringing this fascinating hoard to my attention.

The Baschurch Hoard