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The Evolution and Purpose of Money in Ancient Britain

Influenced by the recent exploration of the legacy of Rome, we find ourselves drawn further into the rich history of money in ancient times. Continuing our journey, we turn our attention to Ancient Britain, where the development of currency and its role in economic life unfolded in intriguing ways.

The Origins of British Money

Ancient Britain, prior to the Roman conquest in AD 43, did not have a unified monetary system. Instead, various tribes and regions used a barter system, where goods and services were exchanged directly without a standardised medium of exchange. Items such as cattle, grains, and metal objects held value and were traded for other necessities.

Roman Influence

The Roman occupation of Britain brought significant changes to the monetary landscape. Romans introduced their currency, denarii, and sestertii, into the region. These coins became widely accepted, facilitating trade and commerce. Roman coins were typically made of silver, which became the standard for determining the value of other goods.

Anglo-Saxon and Viking Periods

After the decline of Roman influence in Britain, the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings each had their own monetary systems. Anglo-Saxon kingdoms minted their silver pennies, while the Vikings introduced coins known as "sceattas." These coins continued to serve as a medium of exchange, and their designs often reflected the regional rulers or important symbols of the time.

The Emergence of Silver Pennies

By the 8th century, silver pennies became the predominant currency in England. They were standardised in weight and fineness, making trade more efficient. These pennies featured various designs and were often used as a form of tribute and payment to rulers and officials.

Money as a Unit of Account

In addition to its role in everyday transactions, money in Ancient Britain served as a unit of account. It allowed people to measure the value of goods, assets, and debts consistently. This accounting function was critical for early financial transactions and contributed to economic stability.

Trading Networks and Commerce

The existence of currency facilitated the growth of trading networks, both locally and internationally. British merchants could engage in commerce with neighbouring regions and even countries, contributing to economic development and prosperity.

The Role of Money in Bridging Lending

In the context of bridging lending, the use of money in Ancient Britain played a significant role. It allowed individuals and businesses to secure short-term loans for various purposes, such as funding trade expeditions, agricultural ventures, or construction projects. The ability to borrow and repay in a standardised currency enhanced economic mobility and supported economic growth.


The creation and purpose of money in Ancient Britain evolved over time, from a barter system to the introduction of various coinage systems, ultimately leading to the widespread use of silver pennies. Money not only facilitated everyday transactions but also played a crucial role in accounting, trade, and economic development. Today, as we explore innovative lending solutions, it's important to reflect on the rich history of money in Britain and its enduring impact on our financial landscape.

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