Coins of the Carlisle Mint from the John Mattinson Collection

Coins of the Carlisle Mint from the John Mattinson Collection

John Mattinson

The Carlisle Mint

The mint at Carlisle is likely to have been established after the recorded visit of Henry I to the city in 1122. Silver and lead were being mined for most of the 12th century from the north Pennines, near Alston and Nenthead. The supply of silver was at least enough to supply a local coinage.

Henry I types 14 and 15 were minted at Carlisle – type 14 by the moneyer Durant and type 15 by Erebald.

On the death of Henry in December 1135, his nephew Stephen of Blois was crowned king. King David of Scotland and Henry, his son, invaded ‘northern England’ and gained control of several towns including Carlisle and its mint. Stephen hurried north and, under the terms of the First Treaty of Durham, granted Henry the earldom of Huntingdon and the lordships of Doncaster and Carlisle. It is likely that, between the invasion and the Treaty, the first Scottish coinage was minted in Carlisle, copying the last type of Henry I but in the names of David and, possibly, his son, Henry. After the Treaty of Durham, it seems likely that the Scots reverted to issuing coins in the name of Stephen from the Carlisle mint by the moneyers Erebald, Hudard and Wilealme. They continued to issue coins throughout the 1140s but after 1141, when Stephen was imprisoned following his defeat at the battle of Lincoln, stopped issuing coins in the name of Stephen and issued them in the names of David and Henry.

King David died in 1153 and, following the death of Stephen in 1154, Henry of Anjou, the grandson of Henry I, was crowned king. In 1157 he ‘persuaded’ the young king Malcolm of Scotland to give back the counties of northern England that David had tried so hard to regain and retain. This meant that Carlisle could participate in minting the new Cross and Crosslet (Tealby) coinage. These coins, as well as those minted at Newcastle and Durham, are uniformly round – in contrast to other mints, where the coins are very often mis-shapen and only partly struck up. The moneyer was William FitzErembald, who farmed the silver mines but, after managing to pay the farm for several years, slowly descended into debt. He eventually owed a huge amount of over £2,100.

In 1180 a new ‘Short Cross’ coinage was introduced and William was replaced as moneyer by Alain, who continued to mint throughout the remainder of the reign of Henry II and that of Richard I. It seems likely that by this stage the supply of silver was dwindling and so the mint was closed for a while. It was brought back into production for a short time in 1205, during the reign of John, to participate in minting a new short cross coinage of better style. The moneyer was Tomas.

The Carlisle mint remained closed until the introduction of the new ‘Long Cross’ coinage of Henry III in 1248 when it was once again brought back into production. The moneyers were Adam, Ion, Robert and Willem. According to Churchill and Thomas, in their study of the Brussels hoard, it ranks as the rarest of the mints in the coinage. It was closed for the last time in 1250.

The only other coins issued from Carlisle were obsidional issues during the siege of the town in 1645, during the English Civil War