Posts in Category: Copper alloy

Token Tours 2024 

Friday, July 19, 2024 11:16:00 AM Categories: Copper alloy Post-medieval

Every year Adrian Marsden, the Numismatist for Norfolk’s Identification and Recording Service, logs a large number of finds of seventeenth-century tokens. These small discs of metal were produced by traders to alleviate a desperate shortage of small change after the execution of Charles I in 1649 during the period of the Commonwealth (1649-1660) and in the first dozen or so years of the Restoration when Charles II returned as king in 1660.


 A 27th century trade token of Thomas Cannon of Swaffham. Recorded under NMS-00C7DC. (Copyright Norfolk County Council).

The tokens name the men and women who had them made and thus offer enormous potential for further research. Since 2014, when he set up the Norfolk Token Project to foster interest in this unique currency, Adrian has investigated many aspects of Norfolk’s seventeenth-century token coinage, from who used it, how it circulated, and who had it produced.

This last area of research has involved much searching of the records relating to the men and women who had these tokens produced. The results have built up a picture of their lives, of how those lives were lived, where they were lived, and what relating to their lives survives on the ground today.

Since 2018, Adrian has been leading a series of very popular and well-attended Token Tours around the city of Norwich, telling the stories of these token issuers as he guides groups around the city of Norwich as it is today. History is, quite literally, under our feet, and the Norwich Token Tours take us back to these long-forgotten people, visiting the places where they lived and died.

Adrian’s Norwich Token Tours – unique in Britain and indeed the World – demonstrate how research on copper alloy discs found by metal detectorists can uncover all manner of hidden tales of people long dead and – until now – long forgotten. They bring to life the small copper alloy tokens produced many generations ago and prove why recording those finds is so important.


Going Dutch 

Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:16:00 AM Categories: Copper alloy Post-medieval Religion

There is a wonderful array of archaeological finds made by the public in Norfolk.  In general, because of the sheer volume involved we are only able to record artefacts that are more than a nominal 300 years old.  However, if an object has additional merit, for example through its cultural history then we will often try to make an exception.

This artefact unearthed recently in a field near Dereham is one such example. It’s a copper alloy token struck in 1788 to commemorate the jubilee of the so-called “Glorious Revolution” of 1688-1699 when James II was removed from the throne in favour of the Dutch William and Mary. 

This was a pivotal time in British history with politics and religion dividing the kingdom into civil unrest.  The Dutch invasion force of England assembled by William was four times the size of the Spanish Armada of 1588 and landed in Torbay, Devon on 5th November 1688.  Apart from a skirmish near Reading the invasion was largely uncontested with James’s army and supporters defecting in the support of William, including his daughter Anne.

A Brooch from the Brecks 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 6:11:00 PM Categories: Brooch Copper alloy Metal Metal working Saxon

Our chosen find this month is a middle to late Saxon copper-alloy bow brooch. It was found recently on farmland in Breckland and is notable because of its size, richly cast decoration, and excellent level of preservation. It never ceases to amaze that an object can spend well over a 1000 years in the ground, be subjected to the vagaries of the weather, chemical fertilizers and ploughing and still survive in relatively good condition. Not so for the iron spring and pin mechanism though, as the rusty concretion on the back bears witness to the original location. Iron corrodes much more readily than copper alloy in the ground. 

The date of the brooch is circa AD 800-910 and it is of a brooch form now described as Ansate. The term Ansate means ‘handle-shaped’ and it is clear how the brooch style got it's name.  The adjacent distribution map uses national data from the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) database and illustrates that the type was particularly popular in Anglo Saxon East Anglia. Full details of the brooch can be found at  using the reference NMS-EB5046 in the search field.


March- A Pummeling Pommel 

Thursday, March 15, 2018 8:54:00 PM Categories: Broadland Copper alloy Medieval Metal Sword

Found in Broadland our Find of the Month this month is a rather large and hefty 13th-14th century sword pommel. Pommel styles are many and varied and this type goes under the unsurprising name of a Wheel pommel. What makes this particular pommel stand out is the decoration and the rather unusual incised inscription which ‘reads’ along the following lines…

 Image of a Medieval sword pommel


+ * + B S PCA EIS [small cross, circle with eight radiating rays, cross potent, retrograde B, retrograde S, P, C, inverted A with broken cross bar, E, I, retrograde S]. The inscription is indecipherable to modern interpretation, but bearing in mind that by far the majority of the population in the medieval period was illiterate, it may just be meaningless. The sword Pommel has a number of functions. Firstly, it prevents the hand slipping off the handle and aids a firm grip. Secondly it provides a counterweight to the heavy blade, meaning that the point of balance is shifted just forward of the hilt making the weapon more balanced and easier to handle fluidly. Indeed, to help facilitate this, the inside of the pommel is part-filled with lead.  Finally, Pommels can be used as a weapon in their own right and used to strike the opponent, particularly around the head.  Interestingly, this latter usage is where our modern term pummelling is derived from. 

Full details of this find can be seen at using the reference NMS-567099 to search against.


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