One of our regular contributors – Si Weller, recently shared an image of a fantastic coin with us, one of which we had to learn more about.

In June 2020, Si was detecting in Sussex with his Nokta Makro Anfibio Multi Si discovered a complete, Medieval silver piedfort striking of a Gros ‘Fleur du Lis’ type, from the reign of Phillipe VI of France (AD 1323 – 1350), dating to AD 1341-42.

The following information is replicated from the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s report to Si, we also include an image at the end of the text, from the report. Thanks to Si and the PAS for the information. 

Obverse: Short cross potent with lis in upper right quadrant surrounded by double inscription.

Obverse inscription: Inner: +PhILLPVS REX. Outer: +BNDICTV: SIT: NOME: DNI: NRI: DEI

Reverse: Fleur de Lis surrounded by inscription, within an outer ring of 11 fleur de lis within rings.

Reverse inscription: + FRANCORVM (N retrograde).

Measurements: weight: 10.70g, diameter: 25.68mm, thickness: 3.06mm 

Discussion.A silver piedfort striking of a Gros ‘Fleur du Lis’ type from the reign of Phillipe VI of France (AD 1323 – 1350) minted between 27th January 1341 and 26th June 1342. Ref:  J. Duplessy (1988) no. 263-263B1; and J. Lafaurie, (1951), no.267-267B.

The first piedforts are known from the later 13th century from England, France and other principalities in the region indicating this is an early example. They continued to be produced into the 16th century. There are 10 silver piedforts on the database and all are French except 2018T465- SWYOR-B9E658 which is of a halfpenny of Robert the Bruce of Scotland (AD 1306 – 1329). Examples on the database that have been through the treasure process include 2016T301 – SWYOR-7D9485; 2015T108 – SF-DCF30D; 2013 T410 – GLO-050FC0 and 2007T339 – SUR-D6C932 all dating to the Late 13th and 14th centuries.

Piedforts are unusual objects, and their actual purpose has never been definitely established. In most cases, they are objects struck from the dies of a currency coin but using a blank of unusual thickness and weight. The coin this example relates to weighs around 2.5g compared to the piedfort which is 10.7g, just over 4 times the weight.HESH-E6B5A5 reports there is no record of a piedfort being found in a hoard or in a clear currency context, nor are they referenced in any monetary context in medieval documentary sources. From SUR-D6C932: “A number of ideas have been put forward to explain piedforts. ……. Perhaps the likeliest idea is that they were made for the use of important officials, who might utilise them as reckoning counters. This would certainly account for them turning up far from home and away from any context of currency. In the case of Aquitaine, it was normal in the 14th century for Englishmen to serve as officials there, as they were more loyal to the king and less affected by the complicated local rivalries of the duchy.”  It is in fact possible that piedforts as a class fulfilled different purposes across time.

Piedforts are considered Treasure as they are not usable coins. This is a similar argument used for coin jewellery being considered treasure. Piedforts were not used as money and are attributed to the object type ‘token’ in the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and as they are made substantially of silver (over 50%), this makes them treasure under the terms of the Act.

Date: the piedfort dates between 27th January 1341 and 26th June 1342.

Conclusion: The object contains more than 10% precious metal and is over 300 years old at the time of finding. Consequently, it qualifies as Treasure under the stipulations of the Treasure Act 1996 in terms of both age and precious metal content.

 References:Duplessy, J. 1988. Les MonnaiesFrancaisesRoyales de Hugues                              Capet a Louix XVI (987-1793), Paris Maastricht.

Lafaurie, J. and Prieur, P. 1959. Les Monnaies des Rois de France,                        France.

Author:          Jane Clark, Finds Liaison Officer, Sussex

Images:         A Medieval silver piedfort striking of a Gros ‘Fleur du Lis’ type, from the reign of Phillipe VI of France (AD 1323 – 1350), dating to AD 1341-42.

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