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Middleham Hoard

Middleham Coin Treasure Hoard found near Middleham, North Yorkshire in England. It dates from the period of the English Civil War and consists of 5,099 coins, all silver. It is the largest hoard of coins buried during the Civil War that has been discovered. The hoard was discovered in June 1993 by William Cagill with a metal detector. Although the coins were called one hoard, they were buried in three pots in two pits. They had slightly different dates of deposition; probably in the late 1640s, although the person making the deposits was probably the same. The coins have been scattered through museums and private collections, 54 of them now in the Yorkshire Museum's Numismatic Collection.

William Cagill, a metal detector enthusiast, discovered the treasure on June 22, 1993, on the grounds of Cotescue Park, on the southwest edge of the small market town of Middleham. Cagill found the first two pots (A and B) and returned two days later to find the third (C).

The pots were found in the grounds of Cotesque Park, the former royal hunting lodge north of the town of Coverham, about 2 km southwest of Middleham Castle. In the 17th century Cotescue Park was the residence of Sir Christopher Croft (died 1649), who was Lord Mayor of York in 1629 and 1641. Adam Loftus, first Viscount Loftus (c. 1568-1643), former Lord Chancellor of Ireland(1619-1639), lived at Coverham in the early 1640s until his death in 1643. His son, Edward Loftus, 2nd Viscount Loftus, lived at Middleham Castle until 1644, after which the castle was used as a prison. Although Middleham Castle had no fighting in the Civil War, it was partially demolished some time after 1646, so that it could not be used as a garrison.

Two pots (A and B) were found together, and a third pot (C) was found about twenty paces to the west. All three pots were covered with castle stone from the local Coverdale sandstone. The last coins in pots A and B date from 1645-1646, Which suggests a deposit date of about 1646. Pot C contains 10 shillings coins with a late portrait of Charles I, which are not represented in either pots A or B. ; Pot C also contains one shilling with a personal "scepter" mark, which was used from 1646 to 1649. These features suggest that pot C was deposited slightly later than pots A and B, perhaps in 1648. The physical proximity of pot C to pots A and B suggests that all three pots were buried by the same family.

The three pots in which the coins were buried are all fairly similar types of mid-seventeenth century kitchenware. They are all jars with handles that could be used in the kitchen, and since there is no indication on them that they were used for cooking, it has been suggested that they were used to store food. Pot A and pot B are the most similar, and pot A has been conclusively identified as Rydale ware. Pot C is somewhat different from pots A and B and is not Ryedale ware, but comes from another unidentified source.

Coins include English issues of all monarchs between Edward VI and Charles I, Scottish and Irish coins, as well as coins of Philip IV of Spain and his governors in the Spanish Netherlands (Archduke Albert and his wife Isabella ), as well as 39 forgeries. The total face value was over £312. Of the 5,099 coins, 4,772 were English, 31 Scottish, 10 Irish, 245 from "Spanish possessions in Europe" (all the Netherlands) and 2 from the Spanish New World.

One of the main features of the hoard is the relatively high proportion of Spanish coins. There are 247 coins from the Spanish Netherlands and Spanish America, which is almost 5% of the stock by number, but these coins have a high value (ducats are worth five shillings and six pence), and the face value of these Spanish coins is about £65, which is about 20% of the face value of the entire hoard. The circulation of Spanish coins in England during this period appears to have been largely confined to Royalist territories, and they have been found in other Civil War hoards from Yorkshire, although no other hoard has such a high proportion of Spanish coins.

Another notable feature of the hoard is 39 counterfeit coins, most of them from pots A and B (only six from pot C). Most of the forgeries are copies of modern English coins, but pots A and B contain forgeries of Spanish-American reals. which may have been forged because the genuine coins were often poorly minted and would not have been familiar to most people. Two of the three forged Spanish-American coins in pot A were cast from the same mold, and the two forged Spanish-American coins in pot B were also cast from the same mold, suggesting that the forgeries may well have been made locally ( had the forgeries come from afar, the variety would be higher). It is also possible that some of the counterfeit English coins were produced locally, such as a copy of Charles I's shilling from the York Mint.