THE SCEATTA COINAGE, c.675 - c. 760 AD




Date Range  



Early Transitional Types    

c.675 - c.685       

773 - 774


Primary Phase

c.680 - c.710

775 - 788


Primary Phase (cont.)


Continental Issues

c.695 - c.740

790 - 797


Secondary Phase - Pt. 1

c.710 - c.760

800 - 817


Secondary Phase - Pt. 2


Secondary Phase - Pt. 3


Secondary Phase - Pt. 4


For additional/later sceattas see under Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.


A sceat (pl. sceattas) was a small, thick silver coin minted in England, Frisia and Jutland during the Anglo-Saxon period.  It is likely that the coins were more often known to contemporaries as "pennies" (Old English: peningas), much like their successor silver coins. They are very diverse, organized into a broader alphabetical classifications laid out by British numismatist Stuart Rigold in the 1970s. Significant later work has been published by Tony Abramson.

The huge volume of finds made in the last thirty years using metal detectors has radically altered understanding of this coinage and, while it is now clear that these coins were in everyday use across eastern and southern England in the early 8th century. Sceattas rarely carry legends of any kind, though a small number do name the mint of London and others carry short runic legends such as 'Aethiliraed' and 'Efe', which probably refer to moneyers rather than kings.
Although sceattas present many problems of organization, attribution, and dating, they also carry a breathtaking variety of designs bespeaking extensive Celtic, classical, and Germanic influences. It has been suggested on the basis of the iconography of certain sceattas that they were issued by ecclesiastical authorities.
Associating sceattas with particular mints or kingdoms is very difficult and must be based primarily upon study of find-spots. In this way, it has been possible to attribute some types with considerable confidence, such as series H with Wessex (and in particular Southampton) and series S with Essex. In Denmark, series X has been plausibly associated with the early trading center at Ribe.

The chronology of the sceattas is also very hard to unravel. Some of the earliest series use the same designs as the pale gold thrymsas and, by analogy with coins from the better-understood Frankish material, can be dated to the 680s. It is known that sceattas were minted in the Frisian town of Dorestad (just south of Utrecht in the Netherlands); they were a commonly circulating currency in the Frankish realm until the monetary reform of Pepin the Short instituted at Ver in 755.
The thirty or forty years after 680 saw the production and circulation of the 'primary series' of sceattas, which were generally of good metal quality and weight (c. 1–1.3 grams). They were largely minted in Kent and the Thames Estuary, though a few were produced in Northumbria bearing the name of King Aldfrith (r. 685–704). The 'secondary series', struck from c. 710 to c. 750, saw a massive expansion of minting all over southern and eastern England to every major Anglo-Saxon kingdom. One or more types can be attributed with more or less confidence to Wessex, Mercia, Sussex, Essex, Kent, Northumbria, and East Anglia.
There was much copying and debasement, and weight could fluctuate considerably (c. 0.8–1.3 grams). There are relatively few hoards from this period with which to construct even a relative chronology, and any new discovery could radically alter our current understanding. The end of the sceattas is especially difficult to pinpoint, and it is likely that there was a period of some decades in the middle of the 8th century when very few if any coins were being produced in England. (Wikipedia).