Minted in Rye

A Stephen penny from Rye

Late in 2019, the museum was contacted by the finds liaison officer for Kent. The officer represents the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), a government programme organised by the British Museum to catalogue interesting archaeological finds by members of the public, mostly metal detectorists. We were told that a detectorist working in a Kent churchyard had found a very unusual coin – a medieval silver penny minted in Rye!

We were put in touch with the finder, who sold us the penny for a fraction of what it would have realised at auction because he so wanted to see it on display to the public. We promised.

And then the lockdown happened.

We are pleased to say the Stephen penny is finally on display, just in time for the Rye Arts Festival.

It is a tiny thing, but a fascinating survivor. It was minted in King Stephen’s reign some time between 1136 and 1145. According to its entry in the PAS database: “Coins of Stephen’s ‘Watford type’ struck at Rye are extremely rare, with only around half a dozen examples known, all struck by the moneyer Raulf.”

The coin is on display in the museum’s coin cabinet along with some interesting information about it and its finder. The museum is scheduled to be open every day of the Rye Arts Festival and October weekends after that, contingent on finding enough volunteers.

And speaking of volunteers, we find ourselves a little short. If you think you’d like to get involved in the museum behind the scenes, drop a line to

Image Credits: Kent County Council .


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