Norwich Castle Museum hopes to obtain ‘unusual’ 7th-century gold coin pendant found at North Elmham

An early-medieval gold pendant, created from a French copy of a Byzantine coin, was found by metal d

An early-medieval gold pendant, created from a French copy of a Byzantine coin, was found by metal detectorists in a field at North Elmham, near Dereham. - Credit: Submitted

Museum experts hope to obtain an 'unusual' early-medieval gold pendant, created from a French copy of a Byzantine coin, which was unearthed by a metal detectorist in a field near Dereham.

The 7th-century coin, discovered on land at North Elmham, was among several Norfolk archaeological finds declared treasure at an inquest on August 7.

The coin, about the size of a modern penny, is an imitation of a gold solidus of emperor Maurice Tiberius (582-602 AD).

Dr Adrian Marsden, a finds officer based at Norwich Castle Museum, said the object was likely to have come to England as a result of export trade at the time, and was probably buried with its wealthy owner.

He now hopes the museum can add the artefact to its collection.

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'The French have copied this coin, and it has come over here and been made into a pendant to be used as jewellery,' said Dr Marsden. 'It could have been lost from around the neck of the wearer, but it is probably from a ploughed-up grave.

'They would have been fairly wealthy, but it is difficult to say more. We are not looking at royalty, but someone high up.

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'A good analogy is to think of this as the 7th-century equivalent of a sovereign ring. It is wearing gold to display wealth which, in this instance, happens to be in the form of a coin.'

Dr Marsden said the pendant was probably made around 600-620AD.

'Gold coins would have gone a long way in that period,' he said. 'It is a really bright yellow, buttery gold. It is 24-carat and it is practically pure. It is a real eyeful.

'It is an unusual find and one that we will hope to acquire for the Norwich Castle Museum collection.'

Dr Marsden said the coin would go to a treasure valuation committee in London, after which the museum would be given the opportunity to purchase it.

Other finds examined at the inquest include an early medieval silver gilt mount, dating back to the early Carolingian age in the eighth and ninth century, which was found at Roudham, two Iron Age silver units found at Tacolneston, a middle bronze age gold pennanular ring found at Morley and an early medieval biconical gold bead discovered at Witton.

There was also a hoard of Roman coins believed to have been deposited beneath the ground for security during the dying days of the Roman Empire.

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said he believed the hoard, which bore an image of emperor Constantine 1, who ruled Britannia, was either lost or deposited during the last days of Roman rule in Britain, possibly in anticipation of impending upheaval and with a view to retrieving the coins at a later date.

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