Record price for gold coin

PUBLISHED: 10:46 09 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:35 06 May 2010

The coin found next to the river

The coin found next to the river

A mystery American was celebrating a windfall after a gold coin found near a Biggleswade river was bought by the British Museum for over £350,000 this week. The figure was the highest ever paid for a coin by the museum. A metal detector enthusiast found t

A mystery American was celebrating a windfall after a gold coin found near a Biggleswade river was bought by the British Museum for over £350,000 this week.

The figure was the highest ever paid for a coin by the museum.

A metal detector enthusiast found the coin next to the River Ivel in 2001. He and the landowners where it was unearthed put the coin up for auction for the first time in 2004 when it was sold to the American for £200,000.

But the Government put a temporary export ban on the coin hoping it could be saved for the nation.

This week the museum agreed a figure of £357,832 for the coin depicting King Coenwulf, who ruled Mercia and much of southern England in the early ninth century.

The National Art Collections Fund provided £225,000 of the coin's price.

The gold coin, weighing 4.25 grams, is thought to be the earliest example of a gold coin in the name of an English ruler intended as part of a circulating currency.

King Coenwulf ruled from 796 to 821 and was the most powerful single ruler in Britain at the time.

His kingdom stretched from the River Thames in the south to the Humber in the north and across to the Welsh border.

The coin will go on display at the British Museum from today (Thursday).

"It is a huge relief we have got it," said British Museum curator Gareth Williams.

"We have been chasing this coin for a long time and it is now very satisfying we have it.

"It is unique because no other coin like it has ever been found. When we have a display of Anglo-Saxon items going on tour in the region next year it will be the star item.

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