[From Manx Soc Vol 17]
"Fossils have been aptly styled 'The Medals of Creation;' but we may truthfully reverse this saying, and designate Coins as the 'Fossils of Humanity."'
N commencing this chapter, I cannot help acknowledging the great assistance I have received from the indefatigable industry and perseverance of my friend J. F. Crellin, Esq., M.H.K., Orrysdale, Kirk Michael, to whom I am indebted for most of the information in respect to the " finds," particularly of treasure to which dates are attached; his inquiries after which, have been most persevering and invaluable.
Various " finds" of coins have been discovered from time to time ; some verified by dates, others not dated. The following are gleaned from a variety of authors. First, those without dates.
Pinkerton, in his " Essay on Medals, Coins," &c. (edit. 1808, vol. ii., pl. 1, figs. 9, 10), gives two coins, copied from Snelling, found in the Isle of Man. These coins are said to be Scotch, and are very similar in type to those of Stephen of England. I append woodcuts of these two coins.
In Rushen parish, a coin of Ethelred II., date 979 ; and in a garden of Rushen Abbey, another, supposed to be of Corinthian brass, about the size of an English shilling, was dug up, inscribed, Obv. GOTES : SEGEN : MACHT : REICH: Rev. HANNS : KRAVINCKEL : IN : NAVR:
Waldron states (reprint Manx Society, vol. xi. p. 42), " I myself saw a very fine silver crucifix [? Mylcharane cross] and many pieces of old coin, "not only of copper, but also of gold and silver, &c." The author however, does not say where, when, or by whom, they were found. At all events, this supposed " find," furnished him with ideas for his plate of mythical pieces, which be published in the first edition of his work, which will be spoken of hereafter.
In the north of the island, a few years ago, whilst levelling a mound on the farm of Gordon, in Patrick, a gold coin of Ethelred II., who succeeded Edgar A.D. 979, was discovered.(Oswald and Train.)
At Slagaby, in the parish of Onchan, a gold noble of the reign of Edward III. was found, which passed into the possession of S. S. Rogers, Esq., of Douglas. It was in fine preservation, Obv. Edward in a ship, sword in right hand, shield on left;
EDVARD DEI GRA REX ANGL DNS HYB
Rev. Fleur de lis; IHE AVTVM TRANSIENS PER MEDIU ILLORVM IBAT Train.
At Ronaldsway, a small silver coin of the reign of Edward II., date 1306, in a very remarkably perfect state, and which came into the possession of Mr. McMeiken.
At Castletown a shilling and sixpence of Elizabeth were found, dates 1570. A Canute coin is also said to have been discovered at Castletown.
In the parish of Lezayre some silver coins were also dug up, the coins being about the date of the Heptarchy. (Vide woodcuts above; probably the same coins.)
Train, page 71, mentions a coin found at Castletown, and which is at this time in the possession of Mrs. J. Quayle, and has been described (by Mr. Wilson, principal of King William's College) as an angel of Henry VI., or perhaps Henry VII., having H and the mast of the ship on one side, and on the opposite side a fleur-de-lis, or a rose. The latter is however, so indistinct. that it is difficult to say which it may be; but if it be the fleur-de-lis, it is probably an angel of Henry VI., and if a rose, it will be one of Henry VII, The legends on the coin are also a little indistinct. The correct rendering of' those on Henry VI. is as follows : Obv. HENRIC DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRANE. Rev. PER CRVCE TVA SALVA NOS XPE REDE'TOR. Those on the angel of Henry VII. are Obv. HENRIC DI GRA REX ANGL Z FR. Rev. PER CRVCE TVA SALVA NOS XPE REDE. The coin found, must be one of these, and most pobably the latter, viz., Henry VII., and was taken out of the harbour, where it had lain deeply buried in the mud.
A Spanish pillar dollar of Charles IV., date 1796, was found in the old harbour at Castletown, by the labourers, at the same time as the above "find" of the angel of Henry VII. The dollar is now in possession of Mrs. J. Quayle.
At Cronk Breek, near the treen chapel, in the parish of Kirk German, some coins were found by the Sappers and Miners, during the survey for the Ordnance map, of which I have not learned any particulars. The pieces are said to be in Dr. Oliver's possession.
"In coins and medals, more than in any other monuments, the past is preserved, and its heroes and great events are kept in memory."
The following, " finds" have general dates assigned to them.
1700 (or thereabout). A number of Spanish pieces-of-eight and moidores were dug up at Castletown, whilst excavating for enlargement of the Earl of Derby's wine cellars. The workmen, not knowing their value, handed them to their overseer, who was not quite so ignorant of their value. Waldron.
1780. A number of silver coins of William the Lion (of Scotland), who began his reign A.D. 1165, was dug up. These coins were not previously known to numismatists. Snelling was of opinion that they were struck in the Isle of Man, but on this point Cardonnel, the Scottish antiquary, differs with him. (Vide Train, from Cardonnel's " Numismata Scotiae," p. 42.)
1786. Near the parish church of Lonan, in the vicinity of Laxey, two hundred and thirty-seven pieces of silver were found. Other pieces had been found at the same place. (Wood's Hist. of Man, p. 175; Feltham, p. 243.)
1789. A gentleman of Castletown presented Professor Torkelin with three or four Danish coins; one of them of Canute, who began to reign in 1017 (Townley Journal), probably in circulation at the time when the island was under Danish dominion, but evidently not of Manx mintage.
1826. Although there is no positive proof of the Romans ever having settled in this island, yet their coins have sometimes been found; for instance, three coins of Germanicus and his wife Agrippina were found, carefully deposited in a square hole scooped out of a block of freestone, at the corner of the Parade, Castletown, in 1826. But this block of stone was one which formed the base of a Roman altar, which has been well authenticated, as having been brought to the isle from Cumberland, and is now placed in the grounds of Lorn House, on the Douglas Road, a short distance from Castletown. This relic was brought to the island from Ellenborough, in Cumberland, nearly two hundred years ago. These Roman coins are said to have been deposited again in the foundation of the present chapel; and may form a new surprise when the present building, like the last, shall be cleared away.
1828. Several silver coins of Edward I., by Stephen de Fulborn while Justice of Ireland, were found in taking down a wall in Kirk Marown.
1830. A small Scotch copper coin (also in the possession of Mrs. J. Quayle, with a thistle on its obverse, but otherwise so defaced as to be illegible (probably a coin of James I. or Charles I.), was found in the yard attached to the Grammar School, originally the ancient chapel at Castletown, and said to be of greater age than Rushen Castle. Mr. Gelling, of Castletown, states that several coins have been found in this yard.
1834. A considerable number of silver coins were found at Kirk Michael about this date, whilst digging up the foundation of the old church, previously to the erection of the present edifice. The workmen seized and disposed of a great part of them; Bishop Ward got possession of some, which were transmitted by him to the British Museum, where they now are; and, in answer to inquiries made by me, of a gentleman of good authority on such subjects, I find they consist of types, either original or imitations, of Saxon coins of the period of Ethelred II. Some have apparently Danish characters upon them, whilst others seem to have issued from an Irish mint; but owing to the unintelligible character of their legends, from time and corrosion, it is impossible to say with any decree of certainty what their original type may have been. Some of the above coins are in the possession of L. Gelling, Esq., of Castletown, and others with J. F. Crellin, Esq., M.H.K.
1834. In ploughing a field at Kirk Andreas was found a large gold coin, supposed to be of the period of Richard Coeur de Lion. Train.
1834. A large number of silver coins was found at Balnabarna, in Maughold, near to or in a stone quarry, by men employed by Mrs. R. Looney, and were sold in England, for fear of detection. (Train.) Subsequent information : In the parish of Kirk Maughold a large number of silver coins was found by, and were in the possession of, a person of the name of Rachael Looney; they were sent from the island, to escape any claim upon them. Mr. Wallace, of Dissington, near Whitehaven (but then a resident on the island), was only able to secure four of them from a jeweller in Douglas. Two of these were in sufficient condition to make out their character. Both were AngloSaxon: one an Ethelred, the other a Slhtric. These coins were found in a ram's horn at Park Llewellyn (a common enclosure), at the foot of the mountain. Looney kept a public-house near Maughold. Mr. Gelling, of Castletown, has a few in fine preservation, which seems to have been the condition of the whole "find." J. F. Crellin, Esq., M.H.K., has also another.
1835. At Dalby, some scores of pieces of silver were found by a person (Caesar Gell, of Ballalaghey in Dalby, the parish of Kirk Patrick), whilst picking up the ground where an old building had stood. The coins were enclosed in two cows horns, which on being moved, crurnbled to pieces. There must have been some scores of pieces: the informant states that there were half-crowns, shillings, and sixpences, as many as would fill a large basin, some of which were of the reign of Elizabeth; of the rest he could not recollect whether they were of earlier or later date than Elizabeth. Two persons called upon the finder, one a schoolmaster in Peel, of the name of May, who is since dead or left the island. To these parties the whole of the coins were sold, except two; and of these latter, one was given to the minister of the parish under promise of being returned, but never was. The last, and only remaining one, is miserably defaced, scarcely anythine, to be seen on either side. It is about the size of an Elizabeth sixpence, with something like a portcullis or rose in centre, with two letters N N oddly placed near the last figure, and something like a crescent below. On the Rev. are the letters T O N, and above these two numerals 14. Both sides, however, are so thoroughly defaced it is impossible even to speculate on their original type. It appears remarkable that any person should have so little knowledge of the whole of the " find" as to part with the coins so readily, and only to reserve to himself one so utterly worthless and defaced.
1836. In June, several old coins were dug up at Kirk Michael, near the old Tower of Refuge. They are said to be in the possession of Mr. Skillicorn, a painter. Train.
1839. About this date a " find" is also reported at Ballaslig, in the parish of Kirk Braddan, two and a quarter mile's from Douglas, in a field where coins have so frequently been found that it is called "the silver field." Some of the pieces which have been examined are pennies of Edward I., II., or III., and of different mints, viz., London, Canterbury, and Durham; others have yet to be examined. The type of the first three Edwards is too well known to require description; the only difficulty is to distinguish as to which they individually belong, the same dies having been used for all three reigns. Some of these coins are now in the possession of J. F. Crellin, Esq., of Orrysdale. It is probable those yet to be examined will be of similar types. It has been represented that the coins of this " find" were enclosed in an urn; but the probability is, they were picked up in the field in different places, perhaps near to each other, but at different times. They are all pretty nearly of similar types.
1840-1. On the estate of Mr. Paul Leece, of Ballamoda, was discovered in an earthen jar, about a troy pound in weight of silver pennies, nearly all of Edward I. The jar was either accidentally or intentionally destroyed; most of the coins were secured by Mr. Wallace, of Dissington, near Whitehaven, formerly resident in the Isle of Man. Though chiefly of London mintage, I have before me (through the kindness of Mr. Wallace), the rubbings of the following other mints: YORK M.; CANTOR (Canterbury) ; B. S. E. (Bury St. Edmiinds); B. (Bristol); N.C. (Newcastle) ; D. (Durham); and of an Irish mint all of Edward I. Also, of Alexander III. and Robert I. of Scotland. All the coins must be in fine preservation to furnish such beautiful rubbings. Some facts connected with this " find" appear to be mixed up with the preceding one at Ballaslig..
1842. About two hundred silver coins of the period of the Norman Edward were found in a field near the Howe, Douglas. They were of different mints, of London, York, and Canterbury. Train. [Edward the Confessor is perhaps meant.]
1844. About this date, Mr. William Teare, postmaster at Ballaugh, found a groat of Henry VI., on his brother's estate of Ballaneddin, in the parish of Ballaugh, in a field close to the highroad, on the south side. The field had been deeply subsoil ploughed. The coin was found on the surface, but had evidently been turned up and exposed by the plough. The piece is in good preservation, and is now in the possession of J. F. Crellin, of Orrysdale, M.H.K.
1846. On pulling down an old cottage in Douglas, in this year, the workmen discovered the following, along with many others: a fine gold noble of Edward III., date 1354, weighing 19gr.; an angel of Edward IV. date 1164, weighing 78gr.; an angel of Henry VI., date 1240, weighing 78gr. ; and an angel of Henry VII., date 1490, weighing 78gr. These were secured by Mr. Wallace, of Dissington, near Whitehaven, formerly a resident in the Isle of Man. This gentleman has kindly forwarded to me rubbings of these very beautiful coins, with the above information; and adds, they were all in the finest preservation, but in 1867 some of them, with a considerable number of other valuable coins, and a nugget, were purloined from. his museum by visitors.
1847. An angel of Henry VII. was ploughed up in a field in the parish of Arbory, and was in the possession of the late Rev. J. G. Cumming.
1848 to 1850. The following account of a find of AngloSaxon coins in the Isle of Man is extracted from W. B. Dickinson's. pamphlet: About three months ago a labouring man found on the mountainous part of Brada Head, in Kirk Christ, Rushen, Isle of Man, a number of Anglo-Saxon coins. As far as can be ascertained, there were several hundreds, but mostly broken, the coins lying near the surface, by a small hill, and being trodden upon by sheep. The bulk of these coins was sold to a watchmaker, who melted them down. If they were in any vessel or box originally, it was completely destroyed, the coins being found together in a sort. of roll. No other articles were said to be discovered with them. The coins which have fallen under the notice of the writer, were all of one king, and of the same type; namely, of Ethelred II., and of the " Crux" type, as shown in Plate 22, No. 4, of Ruding's Plates, 4to, edit. . p 1817. The description of one obverse, will answer for that of the whole :
Obv. Within the inner circle the king's bust in profile, regarding right; the head unfilleted, the bust robed; in front a sceptre, surmounted by three pearls; inscription, ÆDELRED REX ANGLOR ; outer circle crenated.
The following reverses have been noted:
Rev. CEOLNOD M-0 LVND; within the inner circle a cross, voided, in the angles of which are the letters C. R. V. X. Weight not recorded. It may be a matter of question whether the word " Crux " was not assumed to commemorate the triumph of Christiaiity on the conversion of some distinguished Norwegian or Danish chief According to Mr. Sharon Turner, Olave Tryggvason received the Christian rite of confirmation in London about the year A.D. 994. And, in an extract by Mr. Ruding, from Bircherod, is this passage, in reference to Svein : " Conversionem et relig'inein crux illa indicat quam manu praefert loco sceptri." The extract relates to a coin of Svein, supposed by Bircherod to be struck in England, but considered by Mr. Ruding to be a Danish coin.
Rev. Same type. ÆDELRED M-0. BAD, C.R.V.X. Weight 20gr. This coin broke in handling, the coins being exceedingly brittle, perhaps from exposure to the atmosphere.
Rev. Same type. ÆLFCAR M-0 LÆPE C.R.V.X. Weight 21gr. This coin has lost a small portion of its outer circle.
Rev. Same type. ARDOR M-0 . EOFR . C.R.V.X. Weight 22gr. Though this moneyer's name on the coins of 29 Ethelred II. is, it is believed, now for the first time recorded, yet Mr. Lindsay has kindly called the writer's attention to the fact, that it appears on a coin of Sihtric, the contemporary of Ethelred, as exhibited in Plate i.. No. 9, and referred to at page 11 of his work on the Coinage of Ireland." The Rev. reads AIRDOR vEFRPEECO. The type is also the same as that of Ethelred II. ; crvx in the angles of the cross. The head of the king, too, is without crown or fillet, as in Ethelred's coin.
Rev. Same type. BVRNZICE M-0. PINTO. C.R.V.X. Weight 22gr.
Rev. Same type. BVRNZICE M-0. PINTO. C.R.V.X. Weight 23Agr.
From the accounts received, coins of no other king could be discovered amongst the perfect, or nearly perfect, specimens which had escaped the melting-pot. Some of these coins are in the possession of J. F. Crellin, Esq., Orrysdale.
1860. Mr. Gelling, of Castletown, is in possession of a full-faced groat of Henry VIII., which was found about this period in a garden, by a man digging at the mansion house of Pulrose, in the parish of Braddan. The coin is reported by Mr. Crellin, of Orrysdale, to be " in fine condition."
1867. The Archdeacon of the island diocese gives an account of a "find" at Andreas. In the spring of this year whilst digging for the foundations of the new Tower, at about five feet under ground, nearly 100 pieces were thrown out in one spadefull of earth. As far as yet ascertained they were of the reigns of Edgar and Edwy, but of various " monyers." Along with these coins were also found some horses teeth, bits of charred wood, and black earth, which indicated burning. Those coins were generally in very bad condition, and most of them were purloined by the workmen; but some few have been preserved.
1868. A Russian ten-kopeck piece, in copper, was found in the summer of 1868, on Dalby mountain, near the Foxdale mines, between Port Erin and Peel, by a person named Kneen. This coin (which is the largest of the old Russian coppers) is dated 1769. The date of the finding and the exact locality where found, have not been sent to me. The coin is now with J. F. Crellin, Esq., M.H.K.
There is no doubt that many coins that have been found at various times in the Isle of, Man, have more or less found their way into the British Museum. By many unacquainted with coinage, these "finds" have often been supposed to be Manx ; but it is by far more probable that early English, Irish, and Scotch, formed the principal part, if not the whole, of several "finds." The exceptions are those still more ancient Roman coins, &c., &c.