It's that time of year again when I can get back on the fields with the metal detector looking for ancient stuff. The first field to be harvested was full of peas - ideal as it leaves no stubble and it's a two minute walk from my house.
It has given up two coins in two visits this week.
The first one is a cut-half silver penny from the reign of Henry II. The style of the coin dates it to before 1180 which means somebody dropped this over 800 years ago. Henry was responsible for the death of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury - 'Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?' He reportedly wore a hair shirt for the rest of his life in penitence.
Very few people used money at this time, most trade was done by barter. In order to spend half a penny you literally cut the coin in half. The picture is a composite showing both sides.
The second is a groat (great penny worth fourpence) of Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Their divorce led to the establishment of the Church of England. Mary tried to reverse the break with Rome and became known as Bloody Mary for her persecution of Protestants. This coin dates to 1554/5 the same year that she burned hundreds of Protestants at the stake. In common with most coins of her reign her portrait has been rubbed out by disaffected subjects.
Good start to the season!