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66 Objects

Number 1 - Silver Penny of William I

The Silver Penny was the only form of legal tender in England from c786-c1205.  By the end of 1066, William had issued his first coin and Hastings was the only mint in Sussex, apart from Chichester, known to have struck it.

In 1066, Hastings was a thriving commercial centre, important enough to have its own mint.  The monetary system under the Saxons was firmly controlled by the government.  Dies were only issued from approved die cutting centres to approved moneyers, who had to pay every time the type changed.  This made 1066 particularly expensive for local moneyers, who had to make coins for three different kings - Edward the Confessor, Harold II and William the Conqueror.

Image:  Enlarged silver pennySilver Penny

Number 2 - Keys from Hastings Castle

Hastings Castle was the first to be built by the Normans in England.  The Bayeux Tapestry shows construction of the wooden motte.  It was given to the Counts of Eu, who founded the collegiate church of St Mary-in-the-Castle, but it returned to the crown less than 100 years later.

Part of the Castle, including the keep, fell into the sea during the great storms of the 13th century.  It was abandoned after 1339 raid.  The buildings were left to decay and by the 19th century it had become a picturesque ruin popular with visitors to the town.

Ownership of the castle passed to the town in 1951 at a ceremony attended by Princess Elizabeth.

Keys to the CastleImage - Keys to Hastings Castle

Number 3 - Wine Jug

Although beer was the basic drink for most people, wine became increasingly popular after the Norman Conquest - the monks of Battle Abbey were each allowed 6 bottles (a gallon) a day!  The Domesday Book records many newly-planted vineyards for the Norman rulers, but from the 1150s fine imported wines from Bordeaux put the English vineyards out of business.

This jug dates from around 1100.  It was excavated at Hastings Castle and has been reconstructed from several pieces.  The base has signs of blackening, showing that the wine was probably heated or mulled over an open fire.

Image - Wine Jug

4 - Stones from the Priory of the Holy Trinity of Hastings

Hastings Augustinian Priory was founded c.1189-1199, probably by Walter de Scotney, an early benefactor.  It was run by an order of Black Canons whose life involved preaching, administering the sacraments, tending the sick and giving hospitality to pilgrims and travellers.

It was never a particularly large or wealthy priory and moved to Warbleton in 1417 after damage from the sea.

Cambridge Road is on the Hastings Priory site today.  It was excavated in 1937 during construction of hte Ritz Cinema and again in 1972 when Sainsbury redeveloped the site as a supermarket.

 Priory StonesImage - Priory Stones

5 - Didactic Slate

This slate was discovered during excavations at the Phoenix Brewery site in the Old Town.  It is extensively inscribed on both sides.

The side showing has a deeply cut alphabet, which has been copied in a lighter hand.  The reverse is inscribed with the opening words of the Paternoster or Lord's Prayer in a less confident hand.  It appears to have been used as a teaching aid.

The style of writing dates this slate to 1180-1200.  At this period education was solely carried out by the clergy, although this slate may represent a less formal attempt to teach.

Image - Didactic Slate

Number 6 - Die

People have been playing dice games for a very long time, certainly since Egyptian times.  The first dice were sheep knuckle bones.  This bone die was found during an excavation in Hastings Old Town.

One of the most popular dice games in Medieval England was 'Hazard', an ancient Arab game introduced into Europe in the 8th century.  Chaucer refers to it in 'The Canterbury Tales'.  It was played by adults, often in inns.

Image - Die

7 - Seals


The majority of people couldn't read or write  in medieval times and a person was only really considered ‘literate’ if they knew Latin.  A scrivener was a man who wrote letters and other legal documents for people for a living.  Documents would be sealed with impressions in wax to prove their authenticity.  

These seal matrices were used for sealing documents.  They include the name Godfrey the  Scrivener who used them in Hastings in the 13th and 14th centuries.  

Hastings used an official Common Seal from around 1300.  On one side it shows St Michael, the town’s patron saint.  On the other, a Cinque Ports ship running down another ship.

 SealsImage - Seals





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