Pontefract siege coin to return to Castle

A siege coin struck at Pontefract Castle more than 350 years ago is coming home – thanks to a successful auction bid by Wakefield Council

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The coin was made in early 1649 during the third siege of Pontefract Castle. King Charles I had just been executed and Pontefract Castle was the only Royalist stronghold left in Britain. 

Making the coins was a way to highlight the defiance of the garrison, against Oliver Cromwell’s army, by creating new coins in the name of the exiled heir, Charles II.

The coins were used to pay the soldiers, to buy and sell food inside the castle, and to pay individuals to risk their lives gathering food outside the Castle walls during the siege.

Cllr Jacquie Speight, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport at Wakefield Council, said: “I am so pleased our bid was successful and that these coins will be coming back to Pontefract Castle after 351 years.

“It is wonderful to have such an important part of our history that will go on display for everyone to see and enjoy.”

The coin was made in early 1649 during the third siege of Pontefract Castle. King Charles I had just been executed and Pontefract Castle was the only Royalist stronghold left in Britain.

​Although Wakefield museums and Castles already has three different siege coins it also has a very rare lead trial piece used to test the dies for striking this coin. Both the coin and the lead trial will go on display in Pontefract later this year.

The bid was supported by the national Purchase Grant Fund, which is provided by Arts Council England and administered by the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The Purchase Grant Fund paid half the cost of acquiring the coin. The other half came from a museum fund which is supported by donations from visitors.