Hereford Museum acquires rare King Offa coin


18 May 2023
A silver penny dating back to the reign of King Offa, the famous eighth-century ruler of Mercia, has been donated by its owner to Hereford Museum

The 1,200-year-old rare coin was handed to Hereford Museum on Tuesday, 28 February by Dr Jerry Davis, who bought the coin at auction in 2022. Jerry then offered the coin to the museum at minimal cost. Helped by public donations received through the Herefordshire Museum Service Support Group, the museum was able to purchase the coin. In time, the coin will go on display in Hereford’s state-of-the-art museum and art gallery on Broad Street when it opens in 2025.

The ‘King Offa’ penny was found in a field in Marden, Herefordshire, by a metal detectorist in February 2022, who ensured it was recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). The penny was minted in Canterbury by coin-maker Babba between the years 783–92. Its association with King Offa makes it of huge interest to Herefordshire, given his historical significance in the county.

Dr Davis said: ‘I’m delighted that the coin will ultimately be displayed alongside other fantastic treasures in Hereford’s redeveloped museum. Rare artefacts keep local people and visitors interested in the county’s history. They bring stories to life. They help people make a connection with history that words alone can’t always do. For example, people will be able to see how skilful coin-makers were even 1,200 years ago, which may deepen their interest in that period. Their experience will be intensified when the penny is displayed alongside other fascinating finds like the Herefordshire Hoard. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the museum puts these significant treasures on display for people to enjoy and learn from.’

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Judy Stevenson, museum team leader, said: ‘Everyone at the museum is so very grateful to Dr Davis for donating this wonderful artefact, linked to one of the region’s most significant historical figures. The museum loves both the support and generosity of people and their enthusiasm for their local heritage and past stories.’

Until 31 May 2023, the coin is on temporary display in Hereford Museum, where visitors can also view the Herefordshire Hoard, which was buried around 878.