Monday, 21 November 2011

the Fishpool Hoard

In 1966 the largest ever hoard of medieval gold coins was unearthed in the middle of Sherwood Forest.

This collection of 1,237 coins, four rings, four peices of jewllery, and two lengths of chain (Cherry 1973) dates from the reign of Edward IV (1460-83).

Picture: The Fishpool Hoard at the British Museum
It was deposited between winter 1463 and summer 1464 during a rebellion against Edward by supporters of Henry VI.

Edward IV and Henry VI fought in the Wars of the Roses and swapped places twice as king.

Henry VI reigned from 1422-1461, and from 1470-71.

Edward VI reigned from 1461-1470, and then from 1471-1483.

It was a chaotic time, where nobles changed sides and the different houses of York and Lancaster (the descendants of the sons of Edward III) had periods of differing fortunes.

This chaotic background seems to have lead to panic enough to warrant somebody depositing a collection of coins with a value at the time of £400. £300,000 in todays money (British Library).

In a hole in the ground!

It has been suggested that the coins were deposited in an extreme emergency. The money may have belonged to the royal treasury and may have been entrusted to a loyal follower fleeing the battle of Hexham where oposition to Edward IV was effectively crushed in 1461.

The location chosen for this hasty burial was to the east of the western highway through Sherwood Forest.

It must have been difficult to trust anyone. The nearby Newstead Priory was the usual choice as a safehouse for items of value (although nothing on the scale of this hoard ). It was not chosen in this instance.

Maybe the loyalty of the monks could not be assured.

Instead an area of woodland close to the fishpool of the village of Blidworth was decided upon.

The name of the hoard comes from this location.

The fishpool of Blidworth Blyworth fyspole was mentioned as a landscape feature on the Belvoir map of Sherwood Forest in the early 1400's.

It was situated at the source of the Doverbeck River, which formed the bounday of the forest further south along its course.

It is only possible to imagine the dramatic events of the time, and the level of panic that must have led to the deposition of such a vast amount of treasure in the woods and wastes of medieval Sherwood Forest.

It is a wonderful thought that Sherwood Forest- famous for its outlaws and villains should have also been home to the largest hoard of medieval coins ever found in England...

(More on the Wars of the Roses, and the Kings of England, and the landscape of the high forest soon)...

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