20 June 2021
A rare Edward III gold coin, which is thought to have been lost in the aftermath of the Black Death, has been found by a metal detectorist in Norfolk.
The 23-carat gold leopard was discovered with a 1351-52 Edward III gold noble, near Reepham, Norfolk. Both of the coins were very valuable at the time, meaning whoever buried them was very wealthy.
The period in which the coins were minted was one of economic turmoil as the Black Death killed thousands, and the burial of the coins is thought to have taken place around this time.
The leopard coin was minted in 1344 at a time when Edward III was introducing gold coins after years of using solely silver pieces.
The leopard was quickly withdrawn and replaced by the noble, and very few examples have survived. However, the recent discovery suggests the coins were in use for longer than previously thought.
Helen Geake of the British Museum said:
'We asked ourselves why and realised the Black Death reached England in 1348. It was hugely cataclysmic, a third of the population was dying. Usually the authorities would be keen to remove a withdrawn coin as soon as possible.'
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Image: (c) British Museum