The 1,000-year-old coins discovered in Watford


The Watford Observer has teamed up with Watford Museum and its curator Sarah Priestley to take a journey back to the town’s past through items or places of historical significance.

Number 45 in our ‘history of Watford in 50 objects’ is in fact five objects discovered 40 years ago – and they are rather special.

Sarah said: “The history of Watford as a town goes back to the Medieval times when the Abbot of St Albans was the lord of the manor, and a church was built here in Norman times and a market granted in the 12th Century. However before that we have plenty of evidence of people travelling through the area, including Anglo Saxon coins.


“In July 1980, Tony Gill discovered five silver pennies in Whippendell Wood. More than 1,100 years old, these coins date to 915-930AD, to the reigns of Edward the Elder and his son Athelstan. A further coin was discovered in the same area of the same age by Dennis Williams. The finds were reported to the local coroner’s office and a formal identification was undertaken by the British Museum. An inquest made them treasure trove and two were kept by the British Museum and the other four purchased by Watford Museum with the assistance of the V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

“The site was properly excavated by the South West Herts Archaeological Society in June 1981 led by Tony Rawlins and Tony Gill. One more coin was found, dating to the reign of Athelstan and minted by Sigebrand the moneyer. Despite being again declared treasure trove, the finder waived his right to a reward and the coin was given to Watford Museum.

“The photograph shows the five original coins that were found in 1981. An amazing hint at the people who were travelling through Watford over 1,000 years ago!”


Watford Museum has now reopened to the public. Admission is free but book first – call 01923 232297 or email [email protected] For more information, visit

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