Hole with hint of a mint as dig under minster strikes silver

A DIG below York Minster has revealed tantalising evidence of a major settlement – complete with its own mint.

The dig by York Archaeological Trust took place last year in York Minster’s Undercroft as construction was underway on a lift shaft, which will provide access to a new underground visitor attraction.

The new development is due to open this summer.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Stuart Harrison, cathedral archaeologist for York Minster, said: “When you consider 
the scale of the digs that 
were undertaken at Coppergate, Fishergate and Hungate in the last 50 years, this comparatively tiny pit was rather a gamble; although we knew that the archaeology around here generally offers rich pickings, a three-metre cube of soil might simply not have been large enough to find anything exciting.

“We actually struck gold – and silver – by finding Viking-Age human bones, Norman foundations and an extremely rare Anglo-Saxon coin that reveals a huge amount about York during the early 9th century.”

The silver coin is a “sceatta”, with markings so clear it 
has been possible to identify the moneyer was Eadwine, who is known to have minted coins for the Northumbrian royal court. The markings also reveal
the coin was minted for Archbishop Eanbald, who had connections to the court of Charlemagne.

Experts say the presence 
of a mint confirms York’s 
position of power and authority.