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The Silver Coins of England

Edward Hawkins, 1841
Kings of Mercia - Ceolwlf

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Ceolwlf, 819.

The next king of Mercia is Ceolwlf, who reigned scarcely more than one year. There is considerable difficulty in properly assigning to him and to Ciolwlf their respective coins. In the Archaeol. vol. xxiii. 395. the author gave some reasons, founded upon a peculiarity of workmanship and a remarkable form of some letters, which induced him to assign to the first of these kings all those coins, which have the name spelt Ceolwlf, and to the second, those which spell the name Ciolwlf; or, it may be stated thus, that the first king was Ceolwlf, the second Ciolwlf. The author's view was founded upon a certain style of workmanship, peculiar to each name, which is perceived in the forms of the features and letters. These in the coins of Ciolwlf are each expressed by triangular punches, exactly as in the coins of Burgred; which is not the case in the coins ofCeolwlf, Coenwlf or Beornwulf. Mr. Lindsay of Cork states his reasons in the Gent. Mag. Nov. 1835 for not acquiescing in this opinion, and there is some force in what he states. He founds his view upon the forms of the types, and names of the moneyers. It is true that the reverses of Ceolwlf, which have the moneyer's name written across the field, resemble those of Burgred; but some of the reverses of Coenwlf, Beornwulf and Ludica are somewhat similar. That objection therefore is not paramount; neither is that drawn from the names of the moneyers. Seven of Ceolwlf's moneyers are known; of these Oba and Sigestef occur upon coins of his predecessors, but not upon those of his successors. Werbald appears only upon those of Beornwlf and Ludica, his immediate successors, who preceded Ciolwlf fifty years. Hereberht appears upon his predecessors, Coenwlf, and also upon Ciolwlf's predecessor, Burgred. Ciolwlf began to reign in 874, Alfred in 872, and some of their moneyers and one of their types are absolutely identical. On the other hand a coin of Ceolwlf, mentioned below, has a reverse identical with one of Coenwlf. As far then as moneyers are concerned, the argument appears as much in favour of the author's views as of Mr. Lindsay's. But too much stress must not be laid upon them either way, as our list of moneyers is too imperfect to form the ground of safe conjecture.

The author endeavoured to strengthen his argument, by noticing the peculiar form of the letter S upon the coins of Ciolwlf. It is formed by putting a triangular dot against the center of a straight stroke, as for instance EALH-TAN is EALHSTAN, see (87). TAI is TAS upon a coin of Ciolwlf in Mr. Cuff's collection, see p. 32. Upon the coins of Coenwlf, who immediately preceded Ceolwlf, the name is distinctly written EALHZTAN, see Rud. vi. 2.; but this part of the argument is overthrown by the discovery of Mr. Luscombe's coin of Coewlf (72) in which the same mode of forming the S, and the same type is adopted by the same moneyer; so that the reverses of the two coins of Coenwlf (72) and Ciolwlf Rud. vii. 1. are identical. In fact, then, there is not anything remaining, upon which to ground a separation of the coins of these two personages, but peculiarity of workmanship. This however is tolerably strong ground, for it is difficult to believe that the peculiar workmanship, executed by a peculiar tool, which appears upon the coins of Ciolwlf, should have been practiced in 819, should have been suddenly abandoned, and then, through almost imperceptible gradations for fifty-five years, should have been again established; and, that, in the short usurpation of Ciolwlf, the old workmanship of fifty or sixty years before, should be suddenly resumed. It is true that there are difficulties either way; the author however may be excused perhaps if, upon the whole, he prefer his own view, which offers to a collector an easy, if not an indisputably correct mode of arranging the treasures of his cabinet.

The coins of Ceolwlf are pennies weighing about 21 gr.: the names of seven of his moneyers are known, but no places of mintage are mentioned; he is styled Rex, with M for Merciorum. The types are, on the obverse the king's head, Rev.

  1. The moneyer's name in three lines. Rud. viii. 1, 2, C. 7. Archaeologia vol. xxiii. pl. xxxiii. 5, 6, 7, 8. Fig. 5. and C. 7 is identical with those of Ludica. Rud. vii. and Beornwlf (78).
  2. Square, inclosing five pellets, with a cross issuing from each angle (76). Arch. f. 4. Rud. C. 8. compare with (69) and (176).
  3. The letter A. f. 3.
  4. Two long crosses, &c. f. 9. (77) MB. His coins are very rare, but less so than formerly.

Mercia - Coenwlf | Table of Contents | Mercia - Beornwulf, Ludica, and Wiglaf


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