Anglo-Saxon silver coin found by metal detectorist highlights Dix Noonan Webb June 11 auction

Unique silver penny only fourth coin found of King Æthelberht II
Published : 04/15/14
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A unique silver penny minted for Æthelberht II, found by metal detectorist Darrin Simpson in early March, highlights Dix Noonan Webb’s June 11 auction in London.

The Anglo-Saxon coin may provide a clue to the murder of East Anglian king Æthelberht II by a neighboring monarch.

The 1,200-year-old coin is estimated to realize between £15,000 and £20,000 (about $25,104 to $33,472 U.S.).

Simpson, a 48-year-old pest control specialist from Eastbourne, Sussex, had spent about an hour at an unidentified site in Sussex when he was caught in a hailstorm.

Simpson, who has been a metal detectorist for 12 years, was hurrying to shelter when he picked up a signal on his detector. Though the signal sounded like others that had merely turned out to be World War II-era .303 munitions, and despite the weather, Simpson dug down 6 to 8 inches and found the penny.

The penny has been identified by experts as the only one of its type ever discovered, according to Dix Noonan Webb.

“I thought it was a Saxon coin, the first one I had found, and I was very happy about that,” Simpson said.

It was not until he consulted the Early Medieval Corpus of Coin Finds at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge that Simpson realized the full importance of his discovery.

“It was a bit of a shock really, I couldn’t sleep for two nights after it was identified,” he said. “The condition is really good. This is a unique coin. I doubt if I will ever find anything better.”

The coin is only the fourth ever found from the reign of Æthelberht II, according to Dix Noonan Webb. Æthelberht II was a shadowy figure who ruled East Anglia in the late eighth century.

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