Castle lands £50,000 grant to boost its medieval coin collection

Andrew Ferrara, project curator at Norwich Castle.

Andrew Ferrara, project curator at Norwich Castle. - Credit: Norfolk Museums Service

The medieval coin collection of one of the region's museums is set for a major boost after it was awarded a six-figure grant - which may help unlock more secrets of the region's past.

Andrew Ferrara, project curator for Norwich Castle: Royal Palace Reborn, has become one of just five curators to benefit from an Art Fund programme to help museums expand and diversify.

The national charity's New Collecting Awards programme has seen Norwich Castle and Art Gallery land a lucrative £50,000 funding boost - a share of a £300,000 fund in total.

Penny of Athelstan, one of the existing coins in Norwich Castle's collection

Penny of Athelstan, one of the existing coins in Norwich Castle's collection - Credit: NMS

Mr Ferrara is set to use the grant to strengthen the museum's medieval coin collection, which currently has a number of gaps.

He said: Documentary evidence for the mid 9th century is exceptionally limited concerning the kings of East Anglia and their coins provide much insight into the political change that occurred in the region.

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"This project presents a fantastic opportunity to increase access and engagement for museum visitors and their local communities with regional culture and history.

"After all, everyone uses money, and this familiarity means coins can be a powerful yet accessibly way of connecting people to the distant past. We are incredibly grateful to Art Fund for this support."

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Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for communities, said: "This grant award is very exciting news, enabling the creation of a new collection of East Anglian medieval coinage in public ownership.

"This will be a first for Norwich as, in the past, significant single coin finds have tended to gravitate to national and university museum collections.

"The new collection will help establish Norwich Castle as a centre for the research and exploration of the medieval period and engage local audience directly with our county's rich medieval heritage."

The award comes at a pivotal time for the iconic museum, with work already under way on a £13.5m project to transform the Castle Keep back into the castle of Norman Kings.

Mr Ferrara will spend 2021 working with partners to collect coins from the era, with a particular hope of securing examples of those used before 1066.

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