Somerset’s Chew Valley is an interesting place. Around the shores of the artificially made Chew Valley Lake, lie dozens of medieval villages and the signs of habitation, burial and ritual left by prehistoric man, including the mysterious stone and timber circle, Stanton Drew. Appledore, where a subsequent battle took place, lies in the next county.
Chew Valley also held an intriguing secret, kept hidden till two metal detectorists had a chance discovery in August 2019. Deep in the soil of the valley lay a hidden hoard of silver coins buried just after the Battle of Hastings, probably by a wealthy local.
It was also a medieval tax scam.
The coins bear the heads of both King Harold and William the Conqueror (a small number also sport the image of Edward the Confessor.) Some coins even have one king as heads and the other as tails. This seems to indicate the person striking the coins was deliberately using an old tool to avoid paying taxes on a new one with an updated image.
The Chew Valley coin hoard is the largest Norman find in England since 1833 and may be worth millions.
And it also shows that when it comes to taxation, some things never change no matter what century you’re in.