Thousand-year-old coin collection is the earliest form of tax fraud

Sep 02, 2019
Tax Evasion

A thousand-year-old collection of Norman coins has been revealed as the earliest form of tax evasion.

The coins were discovered by detectorists in a field in the Chew Valley, Somerset in January.

The collection of 2,528 coins was buried in a field during a time of political upheavals, with unpopular leaders and an ongoing conflict with Europe.

Coins featuring William the Conqueror and King Harold II were discovered in the collection, with the detectorists discovering that a number of the coins showed signs of being tampered with.

Experts believe that the ‘moneyer’ (the person striking the coins) was using an older coining tool in order to avoid paying tax on the latest design.

The coins, which are known as ‘mules’, could easily be mistaken for legal tender as the average Anglo-Saxon was illiterate, as well as the two kings looking similar.

In today’s money, the collection of more than 2,500 would be worth £5 million and it is likely that they were buried by a wealthy landowner in the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings.

The British Museum is now using the discovery to help understand the impact of the Norman Conquest.

Gareth Williams, Curator of Early Medieval Coinage at the British Museum, said: “Imagine a period of instability with someone in charge of the country that not everybody actively supports and uncertainty in terms of the relationship with the continent.

“It is the sort of circumstances in which anyone might choose to bury their money.”

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