New discovery hints English wouldn’t take Scots money 400 years ago

(Stock images). Ancient Scottish coins have been found along the River Thames in London.  Pictures: Getty/Shutterstock
(Stock images). Ancient Scottish coins have been found along the River Thames in London. Pictures: Getty/Shutterstock
0
Have your say

Ancient Scottish coins have been found along the River Thames in London - suggesting that the English have long been suspicious of currency from north of the border.

The coins, featuring Mary, Queen of Scots, and King James VI, date back more than 400 years and are believed to have been discarded by wary retailers.

“Shopkeepers may not have recognised it or feared its worth,” said expert Lara Maiklem, who chanced upon the Mary, Queen of Scots coin.

READ MORE: Blockbuster Tyrannosaurs exhibition to roar into Edinburgh

“It had likely been thrown away by the owner after they were unable to find anyone to accept it. I have had the same problems with a Scottish tenner in London.”

READ MORE: Big Rachel: the shipyard worker called in to stop the Partick Riots

For the last 20 years Lara has spent hours every week scouring the mud on the banks of the Thames for historic flotsam and jetsam in a tradition known as “mudlarking”.

The Mary, Queen of Scots, “hard coin” was worth one penny ha’penny.

READ MORE: 9 lesser-known Scottish towns and villages that are worth a visit

It would have been enough to buy oats for the family breakfast porridge or a decent loaf or three eggs back home in Scotland.

The Mary, Queen of Scots, coin bears the lion crest on one side and dolphins, representing the “Dauphin” or Crown Prince of France, celebrating Mary’s marriage to him in 1558, on the other.

It was minted in Edinburgh between 1558 and 1560.

Lara, 47, whose family originally hail from a farm in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, said: “I came across it hidden between shells and stones on the sand at low tide.

“It’s unusual to find them because people were canny with money. Scots visited The Thames as sailors, coal merchants or sometimes as prisoners.

“One of my Scottish ancestors was a prisoner on a boat on the Thames.

“I imagine it will have lain undisturbed on the shoreline for more than 400 years.”

Lara’s find was followed by a coin bearing Mary’s son, James VI.

The silver ha’penny could have been melted down and worth more but has either been lost or dropped in the river.

“It’s a tiny coin but not one you would have thrown away,” Lara added.

The coins will appear in her new book, Mudlarking, to be published in August.