Silver pennies from William the Conqueror

Historical Background

These silver pennies, minted in England after his victorious battle, show the face of William the Conqueror.

The first, minted in London, dates from 1066-1068
The others, from 1072-1074 and 1083-1086, were minted in Exeter, Bristol and Wilton.
William was already minting coins as the Duke of Normandy. As soon as consecrated in Westminster abbey on 25 December 1066, he minted money in his new kingdom (1066-1076). Several towns including London printed pennies to his effigy. Coins showed the King’s stylish portrait on a side, and a cross on the reverse stating where and who minted the coins.
Thanks to a tight central control, the same type was minted in all 40 workshops of the kingdom.
Every 3 years approximately, a new type was introduced and the old coins should be changed into new ones at a lower rate to the King’s profit.

Silver penny, “found in England” after the inventory, dated 1066-1068, from London workshop.

Obverse : around the effigy is written the name of the King, preceded by a cross « + ILLEMV REX V ».

The lower part of the portrait separates the letter V for Villelmus from the other letters. Letter S is missing.

Reverse : around a cross flory, the legend « + PIILFILLERON » shows the clumsiness og the engraver, being probably an analphabet.

Diameter : 2 cm ; weight : 1,27 g – Musée départemental des Antiquités, Rouen, achat Rollin, 1844, n° inv. 464 b (A)

For further details : Jacqueline Delaporte, « Denier de Guillaume Le Conquérant », de l’Egypte ancienne à la Renaissance rouennaise…, Rouen, 1992, n° 62.


‘Two sceptres’ type penny, dated 1072-1074, from Exeter workshop in UK, engraver Wulfwine

Obverse : +PILLEM REX IING ; facing bust between 2 sceptres.

Reverse : +PIILFPNE ON EXCE ; cantoned cross flory with sceptres

Diameter : 2 cm ; weight : 1,28 g. – Musée départemental des Antiquités, achat Rollin, 1839, n° inv. 218.4 (A) 


PAXS’ type pennies, dated 1083-1086, from Bristol workshop, engraver Sven for one

Obverse : +PILLELM REX ; facing bust with a sceptre on the right side.

Reverse : +SPEIN ON BRICSOI (L inverted) ; cantoned cross with 4 circled letters PAXS

probably from Wilton workshop for the second

Obverse : +PILLEL(M R in ligature)EX I ; facing bust with a sceptre on the right side.

Reverse : +IN[..]PINE ON PIILI (ou PNCI ?) ; cantoned cross with 4 circled letters PAXS

Diameters : 2 cm ; weights : 1,40 and 1,35 g. – Musée départemental des Antiquités, achat Rollin 1839, N° inv. 218.3.1 (A), 218.3.3 (A).

These coins were purchased to Rollin, professional numismatist from Paris.
According to inventory register, they were discovered in England. They are probably part of Beaworth’s great treasure, found in 1833 and composed of 10.000 coins.
Indeed, this treasure was spread to collectors. Achille Deville, former curator at Antiquities Museum led a purchasing policy for acquiring objects related to local interest
Contrary to coins being minted in Normandy at that time, William’s English coins were of great quality and showing portraits.
Jens Christian Moesgaard
  • Origin

Rouen – Musée des Antiquités

  • Institution

Rouen – Musée départemental des Antiquités

  • Original reference

Inv . 464 b (A), 218.4 (A), 218.3.3(A)

  • Period

Middle Ages

  • Thematic

Politic and military links


Rouen – Musée départemental des Antiquités

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