A drive up to a house in the village of Asthall, near Burford, Oxfordshire, made a most surprising discovery in the summer of 2007: 210 gold coins dating from the reign of Henry VI to Henry VIII (1470-1547). The treasure could represent ecclesiastical wealth, buried for safekeeping during the dissolution of the monasteries, or could belong to a wealthy wool merchant.
The coins are named angels after the Archangel Michael depicted on them. Such coins were first minted in 1465. It was a time of great worldly piety and high esteem for the ideal of chivalry. So, the military saint became the ideal subject for the new coinage.
The reign of Henry VII and his son Henry VIII marked the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It touched many spheres: religion, government and court life, as well as art. The angels present in the Asthalla hoard illustrate the evolution from the Gothic to the Renaissance style of depiction.
This religious theme continues on the reverse, where the traditional ship, worn by gold nobles since 1344, is superimposed with a cross and inscriptions: Per Crucem Tuam Salva Nos Christe Redemptor : - Through thy cross save us, Christ the Redeemer (on the angels); O Crux Ave Spes Unica - Greetings! O Cross, our only hope (on the half angels).