Tudor Coins Mystery

Who was the original owner of these silver coins recently donated to Winchester City Council's Museums Service?

The coins, three of a group of nine, were found with the body of a man buried in a shallow grave, on a hillside outside Old Alresford. Although they were minted in Tudor times, the coins are very worn and well-used, so were probably not buried until the early 17th century. They are small denominations - a sixpence, groats (fourpence), threepence and tuppence pieces, a penny and a halfpenny. As this loose change was still in his possession, it seems unlikely that the man was a criminal or the victim of a crime.

An iron thimble, found with the coins, might give a clue as to man's occupation or might be just another of his personal possessions.

Acting as detectives, the excavators of the grave, at Wessex Archaeology, have suggested that the man died of plague and had to be rapidly buried away from his village to avoid the spread of his disease.

Winchester City Council's Museums Service is responsible for the care and curation of material from archaeological excavations on behalf of the people of Winchester and its district. This includes excavation records, artefacts, and objects that tell of peoples' way of life in the past, such as animal bones and plant seeds.

Curator of Archaeology, Helen Rees, said, "Now that this site has been researched and published by the experts at Wessex Archaeology, the records are accessible to everyone. That the find is rather unusual and valuable, slightly mysterious and from a part of the district that is not well-understood archaeologically, is an added bonus."

Cllr Thérèse Evans, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Sport, said, "With the interest in our own ancestors increasing, this discovery will hopefully make people more curious about people who lived in our neighbourhood hundreds of years ago. Finds such as these and the others which are in the care of the Museums Service help the City Council understand more about Winchester's residents both past and present"

The Coins can be seen at the Westgate Museum, Winchester until the end of April.
Archaeological archives can also be viewed by appointment at the Historic Resources Centre, 75, Hyde Street, Winchester. SO23 7DW, during normal office hours.