Mary’s historic coins found in the mud of the River Thames
They’re words that have infuriated Scots in London for years: “You can’t spend that down ’ere, mate!”
But now it seems the traditional struggle to use our money south of the border has been going on for centuries
Two discarded coins have been discovered on the shore of the River Thames in London. The Mary, Queen of Scots, coin and a King James VI coin were both found by Lara Maiklem. Lara spends hours every week scouring the mud on the banks of the Thames in a tradition known as “mudlarking”. The Mary, Queen of Scots, “hard coin” was worth one penny ha’penny.
It would have been enough to buy oats for the family breakfast porridge or a decent loaf or three eggs back home in Scotland.
“It had likely been thrown away by the owner after they were unable to find anyone to accept it,” said Lara. “Shopkeepers may not have recognised it or feared its worth. “I have had the same problems with a Scottish tenner in London.”
The Mary, Queen of Scots, coin bears the lion crest on one side and dolphins, representing the “Dauphin” or Crown Prince of France, celebrating Mary’s marriage to him in 1558, on the other. It was minted in Edinburgh between 1558 and 1560. Lara, 47, whose family originally hail from a farm in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, added: “I came across it hidden between shells and stones on the sand at low tide.
“It’s unusual to find them because people were canny with money. Scots visited The Thames as sailors, coal merchants or sometimes as prisoners.
“One of my Scottish ancestors was a prisoner on a boat on the Thames.
“I imagine it will have lain undisturbed on the shoreline for more than 400 years.”
Lara’s find was followed by a coin bearing Mary’s son, James VI.
The silver ha’penny could have been melted down and worth more but has either been lost or dropped in the river.
“It’s a tiny coin but not one you would have thrown away,” Lara added.
The coins will appear in her new book, Mudlarking, to be published in August.
Mudlarker Lara found the 400-year-old coins
The Scots coin