The Prestbury Civil War Hoard, 2004

The Prestbury Civil War Hoard, 2004

This hoard was found on 15 June 2004 by Jason Scott in the course of his digging footings for a barn conversion at Prestbury, Cheshire. Totalling 1,366 coins, its content is typical of so many Civil War deposits, being mainly comprised of silver halfcrowns, shillings and sixpences from the coinages of Edward VI to Charles I. Also included are groats of Mary, Philip and Mary and Elizabeth I, again not unusual, together with some threepences of Elizabeth I. These denominations were in daily use whereas higher denominations were not and minor denominations were deemed unsuitable for hoarding. However, the hoard contains one gold coin, a laurel of James I, and some Scottish and Irish coins, mostly of James VI/I. The Tudor pieces are generally much worn from their years in circulation; most of the Scottish and Irish coins are bent, some coins have been clipped and others corroded from contact with soil. Their face value amounts to almost £43, a significant sum at the time.

Large hoards from these turbulent times usually reveal items of interest and rarity and this hoard does not disappoint in that respect. Worthy of mention are a shilling of James I, mm. mullet over key on obverse, which omits the intervening bell mark (lot 57); an extremely rare sixpence of 1615 (lot 62); a previously unrecorded sixpence of 1616 (lot 63); two very rare Tower shiIIings of Charles I, mm. harp, with plume above the shield on the reverse (lots 109 and 11 0); a shilling from an obverse of Briot's hammered coinage muled with an ordinary Tower reverse (lot 148) and the only coin from a provincial mint, a sixpence struck at Aberystwyth (lot 149). There are also some contemporary forgeries (lot 150).

The land on which the find was made is known to have been owned by Thomas Legh, the Royalist High Sheriff of Cheshire, a prominent landowner who resided at Adlington Hall, Macclesfield. It was likely leased to a tenant farmer. The most recent coins bear the mintmark triangle-in-circle, in use 1641-3, suggesting this a very early deposit. On 15 July 1642, a month and a week before the King raised his Standard at Nottingham, the Royalist Lord Strange entered Manchester, predominantly of Parliamentarian persuasion, with a small body of his men and a fracas ensued, a precursor to the troubled times in store. In September Strange, by then Earl of Derby following the recent death of his father, laid siege to Manchester. This was something of an anti-climax from a Royalist standpoint and the reluctance of the Cheshire levies to serve outside of their own county doubtless had its effect. It might be reasonable to suggest this hoard was deposited at that time.

The hoard was contained in a cylindrical jar, found in six fragments, thought contemporary and of local manufacture in the Northwest Purple tradition. It was declared Treasure at an inquest held on 19 October 2004 and released to the finder, who has retained a few of the coins as mementos, earlier this year.