Norman coins reveal medieval tax scam

The Guardian: A millennium-old tax scam has been revealed with the discovery of thousands of coins in a muddy field that together make up the largest hoard to be unearthed from the immediate post-Norman conquest period. The British Museum announced the discovery of the coins from a pivotal moment in English history on Wednesday. Some depict Harold II, the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England, and an almost equal amount show the man who replaced him after the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England. Gareth Williams, the museum’s curator of early medieval coinage, said the hoard of 2,528 coins was unusually large and “massively important” in shining light on the history of the period. “One of the big debates amongst historians is the extent to which there was continuity or change, both in the years immediately after the conquest and across a longer period,” he said. “The coins help us understand how changes under Norman rule impacted on society as a whole.” Three of the coins have been identified as “mules”, a combination of two types of coin – essentially an early form of tax-dodging by the moneyer, the person who made them.

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