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Wainfleet Hoard

The Wainfleet treasure folded between 1194 and 1205. Consisting of 380 silver pennies and 3 halfpennies, it was worth £1, 11 shillings, and 8 pence halfpennies, a considerable sum at a time when an agricultural worker could earn a penny a day. A number of containers were used for the practical task of accumulating and storing large quantities of coins. Many were pots, some custom-made, but most were adapted from ordinary flasks for cooking or storage. While the rich could afford guards, locks, and thick walls, many people sought safety by hiding or burying their hoards of money.

The coins were housed in a vessel with the green glaze typical of items made at Stamford in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries of King John. The short cross-shaped pennies were identical to those issued by his father Henry II (reigned 1154-1189) and his brother Richard I (reigned 1189-1199), even with the inscription "HENRICUS REX". They were minted all over England, from Canterbury and Exeter to Carlisle and York: most of the coins in this hoard were minted in London. Much of the Great Charter of Liberties involved the payment of debts and fines, some of which had to be paid with coins like this one.

Stamford kiln products were widespread throughout eastern and southeastern England, and bottle shapes have been found in a number of locations including Stamford, Lincoln, Norwich, King's Lynn, Castle Acre, and Aberdeen. At least one kiln from this period is known in Stamford (the Stamford School or Elm Street kiln), which is archaeomagnetically dated to about 1200 +/- 20 years. Green-glazed utensils, including bottles and other products, are thought to have been the main products.

The bottle shape did not become common until the late 12th and 13th centuries, but most published examples present only incomplete shard material. The Wainfleet stock pot thus not only confirms existing dating evidence, but is also a valuable addition to the corpus of molds.

Eighty-one coins from the Wainfleet hoard have been assigned by the British Museum's Coin and Medal Department under 1993 registration numbers, 0923.1 through 81.

Wainfleet Hoard