COLUMN: Early currency was used by the privileged

It's the year 1066 and you are one of the less than ten per cent of the population who uses coins instead of bartering and you possess an Edward the Confessor Penny. What will it buy you?

Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 9:51 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 12:07 pm

As an example, a basic sword at this time would have cost approximately 1,500 pennies, a horse 400 pennies or 80 pennies for a cow.

So what would two pennies get you? Adam Staples and Lisa Grace, Hansons Auctioneers historica, coins and antiquities specialists advise that two pennies could have bought you around 30 chickens, 2kg of corn, a cow horn or two cows eyes. Animal eyes were valuable and being developed to use as magnifying lenses.

If you were one of the privileged few who were wealthy enough to use coins as currency, your life would be quite different to that of a peasant who would have lived in a simple mud hut.

If you were lord of the manor you would have had a more structured day. Dawn mass followed by breakfast of bread and wine. You would organise the running of your manor in time for luncheon as early as 10am.

Your afternoon would be spent hunting or hawking followed by prayers and a meal. Talking and storytelling would occupy your evening until you decided it was time for bed when the entire house would retire.

The two Edward the Confessor pennies are expected to make up to £300 each when they are offered at auction.