by William Camden, translated, etc., by Edmund Gibson, D.D., Bishop of London,
fol. 1695, p. cxliii.
2 Numismata Anglo-Saxonica et Anglo-Danica breviter illustrata ab Andrew
Fountaine Eq. Aur. Oxoniae MDCCV. (forming a portion of Hickes's Linguartwi
Vett. Septetitrionaliwn Thesaurus, etc.'). Part III. p. 169.
^ The words in the original run : 'Nescio quid Literae supra et infra Regis
nomen positae denotent nisi Oxonium seu vulgo Oxford : oppidum enim illud turn
temporis scribi solitum est Oxnaforda. Quod attinet ad literas R S erratum
haberi possint opificis pro X. In aversa parte, BERN FALD MO netarius '
* Britannia, etc., second edition, fol. 1722, Plate II. No. 14, p. cxc. It is
curious how the D in bernvald came to be read as r, and it is so on Fountaine's
plate which Thoresby must have seen, though not on Walker's plate. The two
letters being united must be a guess, as no example warrants it ; in all the coins
there is but one letter, and that plainly a D.
APPENDIX C. 369
another coin, to the Bodleian Library while his work was in the press, by
John Drake, the York antiquary, and he thus describes the two coins : —
' One of Edward the Confessor, . . . the other of our founder
Alfred, and likewise stamped with the name of the University
ALFRED OKSNAFORDA J£lfredus Oksnaforda + + + BERNFALD MO.
Bernfaldus Monetarius^ .'
Wise does not admit his obligation to Sir Andrew Fountaine's notes, and
leaves it to be inferred that what he gives is his own interpretation of the
coin. Yet there is little reason to doubt he has based his statement on
those notes. But Sir Andrew does not say the R is a K, nor does his
engraving show it ; nor do any of the coins of this type in the Bodleian
Collection warrant the statement, or the broken R as he represents it in
his plate and in his text. It appears to be based only on a misconception
of Sir Andrew Fountaine's theory.
Still a little later (1773) we find a development of the myth in the follow-
ing passage in Sir John Peshall's edition of Anthony a Wood's Antiquities
of Oxford :—
'IMoney was coined here in this King's Name, called Ocsnafordia, or
as others will, Oksnafordia. Ks vel cs for x being often used V
But while his work professes to follow Anthony a Wood, it may be
remarked that this passage, like many others, is absolutely an interpolation
on the part of Sir John Peshall ; no intimation whatever is given to the
reader that it is such, leaving it to be inferred that Anthony a Wood was
acquainted with the discovery, and that he acquiesced in the theory that
the coins were struck at Oxford.
There seems no reason to doubt that the engravings given both by
Fountaine and Wise are intended
for the one coin now in the Bod-
leian, catalogued No. 90. An en-
graving of the coin is given in
Ruding's admirable work on the
coinage of Great Britain. It is
figured and described thus ^ : —
' 14. Obv. ALFRED ORSNAFORDA, Oxford. Rev. BERHV VSD MO,
17I Bodleian Lib.' [it should be bernv vidmo.]
^ ' Priusquam autem banc dialribam claudam gratias agendas esse duco CI. Jo.
Drake Antiquario Eboracensi ob duos Sterlingos, post schedas nostras prelo
liberatas, armario Bodl : donates : Unum Edwardi Confessoris .... alterum funda-
toris nostri yElfredi, simulque Academiae nomine insignitum,' etc. — Ntimmorum
Antiquoyum scriniis Bodkianis rcconditoruin catalogus. Oxon. 1756, p. 231.
^ Peshall's City of Oxford, London, 1773, p. 10. Wood's original MS. is
preserved in the Bodleian Library, and an examination of this part of the work
shows that no trace of the passage exists, nor indeed of many other passages which
Sir John Peshall has inserted, at the same time tampering with the text in order
to introduce them.
^ Radmg's Aintals of the Coinage of Great Britain, third ed. 1840, vol. ii. p. 288,
and Plates of Anglo-Saxon Coins, PI. XVI. fig. 14. Rnding, in commenting on the D
being changed into R, says ' Wise seems, with unpardonable negligence, to have
relied upon Sir A. Fountaine's representation instead of inspecting the coin itself.'
370 THE EARLY HISTORY OF OXFORD.
In 1840 one of the largest finds of Saxon coins which has ever occurred
took place at a village called Cuerdale ', also in the county of Lancaster,
some twenty-one miles from Sephton before mentioned. This hoard con-
sisted of nearly 7,000 silver coins, together with silver ornaments, most of
which had been purposely broken up into fragments, as if intended for the
melting-pot ^ And since this discovery aifords a considerable amount of
evidence, not only as to the character of this type of coins themselves in
respect of the varied spelling and other details, but also in respect of the
coins with which the type is associated, it is necessary to consider some of
the circumstances under which the coins were collected together.
The collection has been very minutely described by the late Edward
Hawkins in the Numismatic Chronicle, from which the following particu-
lars are derived ^ In the find, amongst those coins which had not been
dispersed before the necessary precautions were taken, there were sixty-
four* specimens of silver pennies, which are ascribed to what may be
called for convenience the Orsnaford type, though almost all varying from
each other in some slight particulars. As will be shown, in nearly all cases
the letters are displaced, sometimes very much so, reading partly back-
wards and partly forwards, and not always the right way upwards.
A representation of the coin numbered 22 in the series of engravings
accompanying Mr. Hawkins's paper on the subject is here given. He
observes that it is one of the very few
which reads correctly, and it would
appear to be one struck with a very
similar die, though not the same die as
the Bodleian coin before referred to.
The legend, it will be seen, runs :
Obverse ORSNA ; then in another line
ELFRED + , and in the third line FORDA. Re'verse BERNV+ + + ALDN°
(i.e. for M" or Moneta^).
1 Cuerdale is situated near Blackburn, Lancashire, and is about five and a half
miles distant to the west of it.
^ For an account of the silver ornaments found, see Mr. Hawkins's paper in the
Archaeological Journal, 1847, vol. iv. pp. ill, 189.
2 The Ntimismatic Chronicle, vol. v. 1842, pp. 1-48 and 53-104.
* Mr. Hawkins states fifty-four in the text, but in the appendix he mentions that
ten more came to hand afterwards. He also refers (p. 4) to a report made by
Mr. Hardy to the Duchy of Lancaster on the discovery ; but so far as has been
ascertained the report does not appear to have been printed. In the accounts
presented for the year 1840 there are several items of payment respecting the find,
e. g. ' To Mr. Hopkins, of Preston, for services in the matter of the coins found at
Cuerdale, 37/.' ' To Mr. William Miller, for survey and map of that part of the
River Ribble near Cuerdale in which the coins were found, 24/.' ' Smidry expenses
attending the holding the commission at Preston for prosecuting Her Majesty's
title to the said coins found at Cuerdale 46/., besides 33/. to the solicitor and record
clerk. Also to Mr. Thomas Smart for an oak cabinet to hold the coins found at
Cuerdale, 5/. 14^. 6(/.' — Parliamentary Papers, 1841, vol. xiii. No. 124. pp. 36-38.
^ A set of specimens, containing this and most of the types here figured, and
others exhibiting the same kinds of varieties, are deposited in the British
Had it not been for some specimens of this type apparently more perfect
than the rest, the reading of the legend on many of the coins would have
been hopeless. For instance, in Nos. 23 and 24 given by Mr. Hawkins*
the letters are so jumbled that it is very hard to conceive that any regular
moneyer could have been so unskilful in making his die. So far as they
can be read at all, the following appears to be the result : — ■
CELFRED = + -r +
It will be seen that not only the spelling is often reversed, but that some
of the letters themselves are so, that is, the moneyer has made the punch
for his die the wrong way : several letters also are upside down. Still it
may be imagined that on each of the coins the moneyer was trying to produce
on the obverse the name of Alfred and on the reverse the name of the
moneyer bernvald. That he was trying to produce also on the obverse
of each the name of orsna forda is not quite so certain. In No. 23 he
may have copied the fasna from a type coin with foRDA, but it shows
a considerable divergence; and at the top of No. 24 he has given in reverse
order the letters comprising forda, and the other line in this might be
read backwards as onsna (the s or z being made of three pieces), though
the last two letters may be noted as having a marked resemblance to the
NO or MO of the reverse '.
]\[r. Hawkins figures also an example (No. 25) belonging to this type of
coin which, while it has elfrid across the middle of the obverse and is in
other respects very similar in general character to the rest, has certainly
something very far removed from Orsnaforda on that side, and on the re-
verse something very different from the name of Bernwald ^. The engraving
1 As to Orsnaford it will be found that of the ten letters which comprise the
word only seven are common to the original and the supposed copy; they are
in no order, except that the first three give s, N, a backwards ; while the moneyer
has inserted a, n, v, instead of o, r, d. As to the Bemvald it is the same ; seven
letters are common to each (but in worse order than the last), and a, n, d instead
of V, M, B, inserted.
^ In Silver Coins of England, by Edward Hawkins, revised by R. LI. Kenyon,
1876, p. 128, the following note occurs on this coin : ' The legend on the reverse
of the two coins found at Cuerdale is certainly not an imitation of this (i. e. of
BERHV aldho), but a comparison of figs. 23, 24, 25 makes it, I think, pretty clear
that the letters above and below the king's name on the obverse of 25, which look
like VIRIF IRISI, are intended for the same as those on 23 and 24, and that they
B b 2
THE EARLY HISTORY OF OXFORD.
fig. 26 is given partly because it affords another example of what is sup-
posed to be the correct reading of orsnuforda and of bernvald mo, and
partly because it has on the reverse, instead of the three ordinary crosses,
a long cross, with two cross bars at the base possibly intended for steps,
making what is heraldically termed a cross Calvary, and a pellet for orna-
ment in each of the four corners of the cross. There are other examples
of this treatment of the reverses of coins, but they are rare.
Mr. Hawkins gives another example. No. 27 exhibits the name aelfred
in the usual way around the coin instead of across it, and instead of Orsna-
forda it has a more common form rex doro, giving to iElfred the title
of King of Kent ; this is found on coins which there is little reason to doubt
were struck by the king's authority. It has also bvrnvald mo on the
reverse very clearly.
Lastly, Mr. Hawkins figures a silver halfpenny (No. 28) which he attri-
butes to the Oxford Mint, one single specimen only of the kind having been
found ^ The letters are not easy to be deciphered, but the following are
probably what they were intended for by the moneyer.
Ob'verse. oiiai ; then vn^a ; then eiieii.
Re-verse. ONSN ; then4- + +; then eodra.
Here what is intended for jElfred's name stands in the midst of letters
which appear to defy any interpretation. The first two letters look as if
intended for no (though to be read backwards) and mo, implying that we
had the name of the moneyer ^ ; but read forwards or backwards no name
can be suggested ^ On the reverse, however, we have what must
must not therefore be forced into the name of some other mint. . .^. It is possible,
however, that these and the other blunders of this type may have been coins struck
by the Danes ; or they may have some connection with a coin of Eadward the
Elder, which reads IIDRCIRICI on the reverse.'
^ Another halfpenny was found, but this resembled the ordinary penny type with
Alfred and Orsnaforda on the obverse, and Bernvald on the reverse.
'^ If, however, it is on (which in later coins frequently precedes the name of the
place), we have here ON dienen (wherever that may be), and something other
than a place must be found for the onsneodra.
^ See ante, p. 116.
APPENDIX C. 373
be another form of the name Orsnaforda. The second and fourth letters
may both be intended for an N, while the third seems to be composed
somewhat after the manner of a letter in the last line of the obverse of
No. 24, and may be intended for s but has more the appearance of a z.
The name would therefore reads onzneodra. Such then are some of the
chief forms of the word which the Cuerdale find affords, and on which
reliance is placed to prove that the coins in question were struck in Oxford.
When we come to consider the date of the deposition of the hoard we
have the following facts to help us. Speaking in round numbers, of the
7000 coins, only 2750 can be definitely assigned to English origin, and of
these the following are the chief.
23. King iEthelstan 870-890. i. Abp. Ceolnoth 830-870.
857. King YElfred 872-901. 59. Abp. Plegmund 891-923.
1770, Saint Eadmund 45. King Eadward 901-925.
To these, two of ^thelred (possibly the East Anglian King, circa 860),
and one Ciolwulf (probably the King of Mercia in 874) have to be added.
The result as to date is that the collection and deposition of the coins must
have been after the year 901, and judging by the ratio of the coins to the
respective reigns of iElfred and Eadward, soon after — that is, before the
year 910. It will be observed that the bulk of the coins, viz. 1770, or over
three-fifths of the Enghsh coins, have the name of S. Edmund. The
occurrence of the letter A frequently in the centre of the obverse seems
to imply that this large number were not probably the coinage of the
tributary King of East Anglia, martyred Nov. 20, 870, but were issued from
the Abbey of S. Edmund at Bury, named in his honour. The peculiarity
of these coins is that they have the most extraordinary varieties of spelling
imaginable both as to the obverse and reverse. Mr. Hawkins gives some
460 varieties, including some few which may be intended for S. Edmund
or may not\ Still the number is very large, and why so many in the
collection found in Lancashire should have been struck in East Anglia,
supposing that the legend implies this, it is most difficult to determine.
To these seventeen hundred coins, therefore, no definite date can be
assigned. On examining the eight hundred Alfred coins (nearly a third of
the whole number) there are one or two which are supposed to have the
* There are variations, such as sceadmundr, sceadioivnde, scecadmuni,
and the like, of which there are some three hundred varieties, depending mainly
on the transposidon of the letters; the remainder, like sceaniyio, h. srcaiiviiie,
ESDANEMRVNE EisiNixiVDCi, ERDiiviDAFCi, FlociVMCiAaDS, present, besides
transposition, the insertion of several letters not belonging to the inscription at
all. The variety of the reverses is still more puzzling. Here are one or two
examples taken hap-hazard, which are supposed to contain the names of the
moneyers : — AENoiiNaOM, dhoiyie vionet, eratinofino, eyriviobiadt,
I003III0NEAIIAI, lYiRECCNDTioi. There are, however, specimens with similar
letters a little more correctly placed, which enable the numismatist to group them
in some sort of order, and here and there surmise at least what the moneyer was
attempting to produce, in spite of the conspicuous failure of his production. Had
the monks of S. Edmund been amusing themselves by trying their unaccustomed
hands at coinage, they would scarcely have produced a more extraordinary series.
374 THE EARLY HISTORY OF OXFORD.
place of coinage named upon them. A single specimen has on the reverse
the three letters exa arranged one above the other and forming the whole
of the inscription, and these letters are supposed to imply that the coin was
struck at Exeter. Another coin with elfred rex has the letters cvitren
forming a kind of monogram, and Mr. Hawkins writes: —
' The workmanship is very rude, and they can scarcely be considered
genuine coins of Alfred, struck by his authority, but the fabrications
of some false coiner ; but we are not sufficiently acquainted with the
practices of such persons in those days to be able to explain the mode
of manufacturing or the motive of issuing unauthorized pieces of a
value scarcely inferior to those of the general currency of the country;
and yet it can scarcely be admitted that coins so barbarous in execution
as the above two pieces, and so blundered in the inscriptions as some
hereafter to be noticed, could have issued from the established royal
mints. The meaning of the letters upon the reverse have eluded
explanation : they are copied from French coins, which have hitherto
been of extreme rarity, but of which the present deposit contains many
hundreds, noticed in a future page ^.'
There are also twenty-three specimens which contain the London
monogram, and may therefore be reasonably supposed to have been struck
there ; this monogram, it may be mentioned, occurs only on the coins of
King Alfred. The coins with doro on the obverse, as already said, were
not necessarily struck at Canterbury, as the full inscription is Alfred rex
doro. There were but forty-five coins of Alfred's successor Eadward,
and the most noticeable point is that one specimen has the letters bad on
the reverse, and therefore is supposed to have been struck at Bath. The
coins with Archbishop Plegmund on the obverse instead of the name of the
king are fifty-nine in number -, and though in no case does doro appear on
the reverse as the place of mintage, it may be presumed that the arch-
bishop had the coins struck in the metropolis over which he presided. One
point with regard to this may be noted, and that is that the name
birnvald appears as the moneyer, the same name ^ which appears on the
reverse of the Orsnaford type.
With respect to the three thousand coins which have been supposed to
have been collected on the continent, and which are found mixed with the
others, there seems to be no hint given in the chronicles how the coins should
have come to be so, except that here and there we read of the raids
which the Danes made up the Seine and other rivers in France. It is pos-
sible, however, the silver may have been exported into England in exchange
^ Numismatic Chronicle, vol. v. p. 14. At the same time, may it not be that this
monogram is of the same type as several others, more or less in the form of mono-
grams, in which E n ' C R stand for 'In Christo,' and that their devices are a bad
imitation of the inscriptions on coins of the Lower Empire, in which e N X cy and
E N E CO are frequent. The presence also of an attempt at an A and fl is often
^ In one case the names of both the king and bishop occur on the obverse.
^ It should be noted, however, that the variations seem to imply that the name
of Plegmund's moneyer was correctly written birnvald, and that of the Orsnaford
coins constantly bernvald.
APPENDIX C. ^^^
for iron or copper or other produce. The consideration of these questions,
however, would perhaps throw no special light upon the origin of the
Orsnaford type. At the same time it must be observed that the dates of
the English series are practically corroborated by the foreign series. Some
fourteen of HLUDOVicvs Pius must be ascribed to a date previous to 840.
While those of Eudes or Odo, of Lambert and of Berengarius, bring the
dates of others down quite to the end of the ninth century. But besides
those with the names of known kings on the obverse and the places of
mint on the reverse, including names of many well-known cities in France,
such as Toulouse, Limoges, Orleans, etc., a considerable number have
names of kings which cannot be identified with any certainty, and others
which cannot be identified at all. Nearly five hundred have on the obverse
letters which read ebraice civitas (and some have this on the reverse).
It has been supposed to be Evreux by some, by others York, but there
seems to be a considerable difficulty in accepting either^. Again, eighteen
hundred have CUN : neti in various forms on what is presumed to be the
reverse, the obverse being of much the same character as those which have
EBRAICE CIVITAS. Again, some three hundred have the text Mirabilia
fecit ; and lastly, twenty-six are distinctly oriental.
There is one point which seems to come out more clearly, perhaps, in
considering the foreign examples than the English ones, and to this atten-
tion is drawn by Mr. Hawkins in the following words: —
' The monogram of Charles, and the lozenge-shaped <> in the
legend dns ds <> rex are surely derived from coins of Charles and
Odo ; but it is not therefore necessary to suppose that either of those
kings sanctioned their issue.
* Under all these circumstances it may be contended, with much
show of probability, that these coins derive from France many of the
peculiarities which attach to them ; that they were not issued by any
personages of permanent and acknowledged authority, but by some of
those northern warriors who by violence and force of arms obtained
a temporary possession of some portions of France, and had also so
much connection with England as to render probable the employment
of English workmen in the fabrication of some of these coins, thereby
introducing some peculiarities of the English mint with the blundered
imitations of French names, types, and legends. These coins may be
considered as imitations rather than originals, substantially French,
but marked by some English peculiarities ".'
Whether or not the circumstances are best explained by the theory of
the employment of English workmen in France, it is important to the
question at issue to take note of the evidence for the imitation which seems
to have gone forward without the consent of the king whose name and
* From the character of the obverse on some, DNS ds. rex, on others a peculiar
monogram consisting of a cross with letters at the ends and the letters EN . OR
variously placed, and what may be intended for A and fi (see ante, note i, p. 374),
one would be almost inclined to think the cbraica civitas might be intended for
Jerusalem, and that the coins partake rather of the character of medals.
^ Nttmis?>iatic Chronicle, vol. v. p. 94.
376 THE EARLY HISTORY OF OXFORD.
monogram appear. And the evidence derived from the French coins
illustrates and confirms also the remark made previously by Mr, Hawkins
respecting certain coins of Alfred \ In speaking of the Canterbury type of
coins found in the Cuerdale series, Mr. Hawkins had written : —
' Some of these have the legends so utterly unlike the usual coins
that they can with difficulty be believed to have issued from any
authorized mint. They appear, however, to be of the proper weight
and fineness, and the transition from the correct reading to the most
blundered is so gradual and imperceptible, that there does not appear
to be any possibility of drawing a line of demarcation between the
genuine coins and supposed imitations.'
The consideration, then, of the foreign series, while it tends to confirm
the date arrived at from the evidence of the English series, seems rather
than otherwise to increase the difficulties in coming to any satisfactory
conclusion as to the origin or purpose of the hoard.
Next, it is most difficult to account for the deposition of the hoard at this
particular place ; and when it is borne in mind that the only authenticated
specimens of this type of coin professing to be struck in Oxford have been
found on or near the banks of the Ribble in Lancashire, it will be seen that
this difficulty ought to be met before assuming that the coins in question
were struck by the direct authority of King Alfred, and at Oxford. There
can, however, be no question that the bulk of the 2,300 English coins repre-
sent types belonging to the southern counties, and profess to be struck there,
and therefore it may be concluded that the hoard had been transported
northwards as a whole. As already said, the discovery was made at Cuerdale,
close to the river Ribble ; in fact it was while the workmen were engaged
in repairing the river banks that they found them. Associated with the