Mary’s his­toric coins found in the mud of the River Thames

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - NEWS -

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

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