Heberden Coin Room

Research Projects

Research projects hosted by the Heberden Coin Room play a vital role in enhancing the academic profile of the department. Current projects include:

Previous research projects include:

Winton Institute for Monetary History

The excavation coins from the two early campaigns (1906-1910; 1924-1928) of the British School at Athens from Sparta
Sponsor: British Academy.
Director: Dr Julian Baker.
Commenced: 2005.

In excess of 4000 coins and related objects, spanning the entire spectrum from classical to modern Greek times, were unearthed at Sparta during the indicated campaigns. The aim of this project is the complete study and publication of this material.

Monetary life in Later Medieval Constantinople
Sponsor: British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara.
Director: Dr Julian Baker.
Commenced: 2004.

This project is designed around the rich holdings of the Numismatic Collection of the Archaeological Museum, Istanbul and in collaboration with its curator T. Gökyıldırım. The primary focus is on the hoarded and stray material from within the city itself which dates to the Palaiologan period (1261-1453). It comprises Byzantine, western-style medieval, and Ottoman issues.

Publication: ‘Later medieval monetary life in Constantinople’, Anatolian Archaeology, 9, 2003, p. 35-36.

Sir John Evans and the Development of Archaeology in Nineteenth-Century Europe
Sponsor: Leverhulme Trust 2005- (for three years)
Directors: Dr Arthur MacGregor and Professor Nicholas Mayhew
Researchers: Dr Susanne Bangert, Dr Cathy King, and Alison Roberts.

The Ashmolean houses both the artefact collection and documentary archives of Sir John Evans (1823-1908), a pioneer figure in the fields of both prehistoric archaeology and of numismatics in Britain. From the numismatic point of view the project will focus on John Evans as a collector, and on his contribution to Iron Age, Roman, and English Medieval numismatics. John Evans provided the only authoritative works then available on Iron Age coins, or Ancient British coins as they were known. He also devised a classification for English Short Cross Coinage (1180-1247), which survived virtually unchallenged for half a century.

Medieval credit in England
Records of Debt, the Money Market and the English Economy, 1340-1460
Sponsors: Leverhulme Trust and Economic and Social Research Council.
Director: Professor Nicholas Mayhew.
Research Fellow: Dr Pamela Nightingale.
Commenced: 1993.

It has been established that credit had a significant part to play in the medieval English economy. Now that there is a growing consensus about the importance of both population and the money supply in determining economic change, there is a need for a thorough and unpartisan investigation of the factors which influenced credit and the degree to which it caused or reflected structural changes in the medieval English economy. The study covers periods of expending and contracting money supply, as well as the decades before and after the impact of the plague.

Information about credit transactions from three series of national records of debt has been recorded in a specifically designed database. The bulk of the records used consist of the chancery certificates in the Public Record Office. This is supplemented by an analysis of the pardons of outlawry for debt, and the gifts of goods and chattels, both of which are recorded in the printed calendars of the Patent and Close rolls.

The intention is to publish the findings and statistics in a series of articles and eventually in an extensive study of the medieval money market.

Publications: P. Nightlingale, ‘Knights and merchants: trade, politics and the gentry in late medieval England’, Past and Present 169 (2000), 36-62;
‘Money and credit in late medieval England’, in Medieval Money Matters, ed. Diana Wood, Oxbow Books (2004);
‘Some new evidence of crises and trends of mortality in late medieval England’, Past and Present 187 (2005), 33-68.

Prices in Medieval Scotland
Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council.
Director: Professor Nicholas Mayhew.
Research Assistant: Dr Elizabeth Gemmill.
Commenced: 1987.

This is a full-scale study of prices in medieval Scotland, c. 1260-1542, which includes detailed discussions of coinage, and weights and measures. Nearly 6,000 prices are listed individually, average prices are calculated for each commodity, and for groups of commodities such as cereals and livestock. Scots prices are compared with English, and the significance of the data for the economic history of medieval Scotland is analysed fully.

Publication: Elizabeth Gemmill and Nicholas Mayhew, Changing values in medieval Scotland: a study of prices, money, and weights and measures, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.