Anglo-Saxon, Secondary Sceattas. c. 710-725 AD

Anglo-Saxon, Secondary Sceattas. c. 710-725 AD


AR Sceatt, 0.92g (12.5mm, 1h). Series J, type 36. Mint in Northumbria (prob. York). Diademed bust right; cross before / Bird standing right; bird standing on back, cross to right.

Pedigree: From the Dr. JDR Collection. Ex Finn FPL 4 (Spring 95), no. 33

References: Abramson 20.10; Metcalf 301–2; SCBI 63 (BM), 480; North 134; SCBC 802D

Grade: Some minor porosity, otherwise toned EF  (wc1029)

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These fascinating early coins from England constitute the earliest coinage found on the British Isles. The departure of the Romans sometime around 414 AD forced the inhabitants to create their own coinage. Sceatts are generally thought to be modeled after coinages found in the surrounding areas and of course based on the earlier coinage from the western Roman Empire. Most scholars believe that the Sceatt was merely a misinterpretation of the word for “weight”. Whatever the case, these coins provide a delightful look into a time between the departure of the Romans and the introduction of the Saxons. While archaeological finds and further research has provided more information on where types may have been created, there is little known under whom they were created (most believe that these coins were not royal but struck by independant princes). Most collectors take delight in their fantastical imagery and delightful designs.

The secondary sceattas differ from the primary in that this is considered the “golden age” of the coins (see Gannon, “The Iconography of Early Anglo-Saxon Coinage” p. 12). At this point a wealth of various styles, creative and innovative from the previous types, come to the forefront. There are relatively few die links among the secondary sceatts which shows how varied the coinage became. Additionally the silver began to be heavily debased from around 90% to as low as 20% or less.