The discovery of the oldest gold coin of English origin has been announced in Canada. The information was relayed through a press release from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador published in early November 2022. News that questions Canadian historians and puts the brains of professional numismatists of the boiling region. New date of English arrival in Canada or simple loss of a piece by a mindless settler a posteriori ?
Discovery on the coast by an individual, under conditions which are not explained in the official press release, the gold coin surprises as much as it questions. This noble quarter Henry VI was minted between 1422 and 1427; but the date of arrival of the English is later. It must be said that, in the past, the region inhabited by natives had already been visited. In particular by the Vikings who set up temporary encampments, as at the site of theAnseAnse at the Meadows in 1021 CE.
John Cabot arrives in 1497 in the pay of England
In 1497, the NavigatorNavigator Jean Cabot, of Venetian origin, arrives in the region. At the time, he worked for the King of England, Henry VII, and his arrival marked the history of local explorations. The following decades, other Westerners will sail in the region, always pushing the knowledge of the area further during the XVIe century. But, unlike the Vikings and their temporary camps, the latter decide to settle permanently, which will have repercussions on the native populations.
It must be said that the local waters were considered very attractive, as they abounded with large schools of cod as well as whales to fish for. So many arguments that motivated Western fishermen to cross the Atlantic to take advantage of these fish-filled waters. On the one hand, there were the foreigners who decided to live there, and on the other hand, the fishermen who only stayed for the time of the seasonseason of sinsin. A risky journey from which many never returned.
How could this currency have arrived on the coasts?
This is the question that intrigues specialists in the region. In 2021, a silver coin minted between 1493 and 1499 was discovered at the historic site of Cupids Cove Plantation, a site dating back to 1610. The hypothesis of a piece kept over several generations and lost by one of the settlers on the site remains favored today by archaeologists. So much for the site of Cupids Cove Plantationthere is a context — since archaeological excavations have been undertaken since 1995 — as much for this new gold coin, we know almost nothing about the environment of its discovery.
A secret discovery area
No precise information has circulated about the location where the currency was found. Although we know for now that it is a find made on the coast, no information was given in the press release. A decision taken in order to limit possible illegal research, and above all to allow consideration of future surveys and possible excavations of the site in the future. For now, archaeologists and historianshistorians Locals cannot comment on the reasons for the presence of such a coin, except that it was probably not in circulation when it was obviously lost.
The chronology of the arrival of Westerners in Canada remains a rather sensitive subject in research circles, and archeology is gradually helping to better understand the events and population movements of the settlers there. An archaeological research which is also useful for better understanding the exchanges and relations with the natives at these times.