A study by the University of Cambridge indicates that the discovery of a medieval Chinese coin dating back to the early eleventh century is a real find. The 25mm copper alloy coin was discovered in Boreton, near Petersfield, and archaeologists have now confirmed that this ancient coin dates from the Northern Song Dynasty.
This is now the second coin of its kind to be found in England, with an earlier example discovered in Cheshire in 2018.
This pair, as well as the wealth of other Chinese currencies discovered in England, date back to slightly later periods.
Both elements were discovered from the eleventh century in areas linked to other discoveries in the Middle Ages.
These coins included Roman coins, medieval and post-medieval weights, pieces of waste cast from copper alloys in the Middle Ages and some artefacts dating back to the 16th and 18th centuries, including coins of Elizabeth I.
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Dr Caitlin Green of the University of Cambridge wrote: “All post-Roman discoveries from the site indicate relatively unnoticed activity on the site from 1300 to 1750, and nothing else has been found that might indicate an intentional alien deposition or loss from a group coordinator. «
The existence of two similar currencies corroborates the evidence that they are correct.
The Chinese Northern Song Dynasty minted these coins in quantities that were still in circulation long after the dynasty ended in the 1120s.
Mounting evidence shows that travelers from East Asia were present in Britain and Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries.
When the 2018 coin was found in Cheshire, the archaeologist suggested several documentary evidence indicating an interaction between Britain and East Asia in the medieval period.
In 2018, a portable relics chart described the worn coin from Cheshire as a piece of cast copper ingots minted during the Xining era.
They wrote: « It is doubtful that this was a true discovery from the Middle Ages (that is, found in the country due to trade and lost supply) but most likely a more recent loss from a coordinated group. »
However, Dr. Green suggested that the « loss from a coordinated group » explanation for the unusual discoveries is unsatisfactory.
She wrote: “Although the possibility of losing from a coordinated group cannot certainly be ruled out, it can perhaps be overused as an explanation for“ surprising ”discoveries – as Martin Biddle noted,“ Absent-minded College does not wear or, drop items from his group here, there and in. Everywhere … he never seemed to be a very convincing figure, and in recent years, the excessive skepticism of some strange coinage in Britain has diminished somewhat.
Dr. Green added that she decided to discover « whether it is at all possible that such a currency could have arrived in Britain during the medieval era and to review the evidence for contacts between East Asia and Britain in that period, whatever the conclusion we reached. »
Much of the evidence I’ve found that these Chinese coins are real discoveries comes from texts.
One of the best known accounts is the Flemish missionary and explorer William of Robrock, who encountered an Englishman named Basil during his visit to Mongolia in 1254.