Britain reproduces the Northern Song Dynasty copper coins

Northern Song coin found in Britain for the first time

  In 2018, someone discovered a Northern Song coin for the first time in Cheshire, England. No other 11th-century Chinese coin has ever been unearthed in the UK before. Within 100 meters of the excavation of this Northern Song Dynasty copper coin, the following antiquities were also found: two Roman coins, a lead bob from the late Middle Ages, scraps of copper casting, and musket bullets and rings from the 16th to 18th centuries.
  After the Northern Song Dynasty copper coin was unearthed, it was handed over to the Portable Antiquities Project carried out by the British Museum, the largest public archaeological project in the UK, and quickly sparked controversy among archaeological experts. University of Cambridge archaeologist Dr Caitlin Green believes the coin is an interesting find, especially in the context of other evidence of medieval East Asian and British exchanges. “Needless to say, this coin is also a subject of suspicion,” Dr Green said. The discovery of this copper coin raises the question: Could it be possible that Chinese copper coins came to England in the Middle Ages?

Northern Song Dynasty copper coin found in Cheshire, UK in 2018

  ”Although no other medieval Chinese coins have been unearthed in the UK, it is not entirely isolated, as there have been many discoveries of medieval British imports from East Asia.” Dr Green pointed out that at the 14th-century archaeological site in Winchester , a unique piece of Chinese blue and white porcelain was found. A Chinese bronze vessel has also been found in a 13th-century site on the banks of the Thames in London.
  The Chinese copper coins of the Song Dynasty were still in circulation in the world until the 14th century. “If the Cheshire coin in the Northern Song Dynasty is a real relic, then it is possible that it circulated in England at any time before the late 14th century.”
  “Many European merchants came to China at this time, such as Petrus and Marco Polo in the late 13th century. Genoese and Venetian merchants also seem to have lived in Yuan Dynasty China in the 14th century, and Latin tombstones have been found in Yangzhou and Quanzhou. Late medieval British coins have also been found in Vietnam.”

In 2021, a metal detector found an 11th-century Chinese Northern Song coin in Hampshire, England.

  Medieval documents record that the explorer Lubruk, a close friend of King Louis IX of France, discovered an Englishman in Mongolia in 1254. The man, Bazel, probably the son of a bishop, was captured by the Mongols near Belgrade. The chronicler and monk Matthew Paris also recorded that in 1242 there was an Englishman who served as Mongolian envoy and translator.
  As such, Dr Green believes, “the coin may have been missed by a modern collector, but given that there are no other ‘exotic’ collections at the excavation site, the possibility that it did come to England in the Middle Ages should at least be considered.”
Northern Song coin found again in Britain

  A second 11th-century coin found in a field in Hampshire in 2021 is about 2.49cm in diameter and made of copper alloy. Green believes that the presence of two similar coins increases the likelihood that they are genuine medieval finds. She pointed to documentary evidence that in the 1240s an Englishman served as an envoy to the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan, which could explain the appearance of Chinese coins in Britain. Records also show that in 1313, Mongol emissaries visited Edward Il. Treasure hunters found similar medieval artifacts near where the two 11th-century coins were found. The coin was unearthed some 32 kilometers from England’s only proven Chinese medieval pottery, a blue and white shard of a small cup or bowl.

In the fresco “The Road to Redemption,” created between 1365 and 1368, an English knight talks to the Mongols.

  Mark Cartwright’s “Encyclopedia of Ancient History” wrote that the period from 960 to 1127 was the Northern Song Dynasty in China. During this period, China’s economy boomed: cities like Kaifeng were known for their printing, paper, textile and porcelain industries. These goods were sold along the Silk Road. The Chinese exchanged many artifacts with Europeans in the Middle Ages, such as the 14th-century “Marco Polo Jar”. British coins were probably minted during the reign of Song Shenzong (1067-1085 AD). Many of these coins are well made, and more than 200 years later, 88 percent of the coins in circulation in China were minted during the Northern Song Dynasty.

15th century illustration from “Marco Polo’s Travels”: Marco Polo’s father Niccolò and his uncle Maffeo left Constantinople in 1259.