The Fishpool Treasure

Photo:The Fishpool Hoard

The Fishpool Hoard

British Museum

Photo:Execution of Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, after the Battle of Hexham

Execution of Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, after the Battle of Hexham

A Nottinghamshire mystery

By R B Parish

On the 22nd March 1966, work men working on a building site in Ravenshead, came across a hoard of 1237 15th century gold coins – the largest ever found. The date of these coins ranged from 1351 to 1464. Of these 1014 were English, 22 Anglo-Gallic, 13 Scottish, 11 French, and 166 Burgundian. Sixty three of these English coins were of a particular heavy coinage – on which only four others were known to be of existence. Amongst the hoard were also four rings and four other pieces of jewellery, a sapphire pendant and gold.

Why was it there?

From the coins it was apparent that the hoard was buried with haste.  As the coins were stacked neatly it suggested that originally a box surrounded the coins and this had subsequently disintergrated. Ruled out was the nearby Newstead Priory, the coins were too early to have been stashed at the Reformation and furthermore, why hide them somewhere different than the brass eagle, which was found in the pond at the site of the priory. However, the date of the most recent coins suggests two origins; this was the period of the War of the Roses.

The most romantic suggestion is that the hoard arose from someone fleeing the Battle of East Stoke near Newark. It is believed that once realising the battle was lost, the imposter Lambert Simnel and his supporters, crossed the Trent and tried to escape in the Blidworth direction. It is possible that someone in their entourage try to find shelter and sanctuary at the Priory, burying the money here which may have been intended to pay for the mercenaries employed or keep it themselves.

Alternatively, and generally more accepted is that the hoard was associated with an earlier battle, that of the Battle of Hexham which significantly was fought in 1464. This appears more likely for a number of reasons. Firstly, that the coins were in good condition, suggesting a recent minting. Secondly, the battle which was lost by the Lancasterians, involved the Duchess of Burgundy, Edward IV’s sister and she is known to have received money from her dukedom, explaining the presence of 166 of these coins. Thirdly she is known to have borrowed money also from Scottish and French sources. Fourthly that within the hoard was a heart-shaped brooch was decorated in blue and white, the Lancastrian colours.

Where is it now?

At a court meeting in Mansfield it was declared Treasure Trove and thus became Crown property. Controversy arose when at first only two involved were given reward, as the other four were accused of wilful concealment, although an investigation exonerated them. Another controversy arose when the British Museum were accused of under valuing the coins at £12,000. The original cost would be £400, its current value is £300,000. This treasure is now in the British Museum.

 

 

This page was added by R B Parish on 28/03/2013.
Comments about this page

My late father W L Wilson was basically in charge of it, it was thought the treasure Inc jewels were buried in haste from Henry 8ths reformation , I. Recall seeing and handling them when father bought them home  they were taken to Spinks for valuation etc, my late father did talks on the subject Mark Wilson 

By Mark Wilson
On 08/08/2019

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