Ancient coin that could explain murder of would-be king fetches £78,000 at auction
- Darrin Simpson found the 1,200 coin while sheltering from a heavy storm
- The coin collector tested his metal detector and investigated the sound
- The coin had a guide price of £20,000 before it was auctioned in London
- Mr Simpson will share the sale price with the farmer who owns the land where the coin was discovered
A rare silver coin has fetched £78,000 at auction – because it could be a clue to a 1,200-year-old murder.
It was struck in the reign of East Anglian ruler Aethelberht II and describes him as king – the only time this title has been found on a coin of his.
His ambition may explain his beheading in 794 on the orders of Offa, the more powerful king of Mercia.
Darrin Simpson, who found the coin in a Sussex field in March using a metal detector, will split the sale price with the farmer who owns the land.
'It’s fantastic, an amazing result. I am really quite shocked,’ said the 48-year-old.
The Anglo-Saxon coin went under the hammer on Wednesday at London auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb with a guide price of only £20,000.
A spokesman said: ‘This coin could easily have been destroyed by a plough or a digger or just a shovel.
‘We don’t know when it went into that field but it was probably well before the Battle of Hastings. It’s miraculous that it has survived.’
The rare Anglo Saxon silver coin, pictured was sold for £72,000 after an auction exceeding its guide price due to its possible link to a 1,200 year murder
A spokesman for international coin and medal specialists Dix Noonan Webb said 'This find by Darrin changes our knowledge of Anglo Saxon coinage.
'Saxon coins weren’t just used for day-to-day transactions, they were a way for rulers to project their image.
'If Offa thought Aethelberht was getting too big for his boots, that might be why he was so brutally murdered.'
According to legend, Aethelberht’s severed head later fell off a cart and rolled into a ditch.
After the bloodied head was found, it was said to have restored a blind man’s sight, resulting in the dead king being declared a saint.