|An eighth-century Islamic silver dirham found at Fingringhoe, Essex, struck at the Wasit mint in modern Iraq (image: PAS)|
|A probably ninth-century Islamic silver dirham found at Torksey, cut into a quarter to provide a smaller unit of exchange in a Viking bullion economy (image: PAS).|
Third and finally, a small number of Islamic gold dinars of the eighth, tenth and eleventh centuries are known from England. These items are much rarer than the silver dirhams and are thought to be indicative of a degree of knowledge of Islamic coinage in Anglo-Saxon England separate to the influx of silver dirhams that came with the Vikings. Perhaps the most eloquent testimony to a pre-Viking Anglo-Saxon knowledge of Islamic coinage is the gold dinar struck by Offa of Mercia in the later eighth century, which closely copied a dinar of the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur struck in AD 773/4. This coin, shown below and procured in Rome in the nineteenth century, is the only surviving example of this issue and may have been one of the 365 mancuses (a word that probably refers to Islamic dinars) that Offa agree to pay to the papacy every year. Alternatively, it may have been produced for use in overseas trade, and in this context it is worth noting that the coin has clearly circulated and is not in mint condition. In either case, its existence necessarily implies the presence of its prototype here and so constitutes additional evidence for the importation of Islamic dinars into pre-Viking England, above and beyond the finds of such coins that have been made here.
|An eighth-century coin of Offa, Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia, copied from a gold dinar of the Abbasid caliph Al-Mansur struck in AD 773/4. Note, the legend OFFA REX is upside down relative to the Arabic (image: Wikimedia Commons).|
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