Rare silver coins from 13th century discovered in South Bohemia

Photo: ČTK/Václav Pancer

Archaeologists from South Bohemia have just announced a unique discovery of some 800 silver coins dating back to the second half of 13th century. The coins, which are exceptionally well-preserved, were minted during the reign of King Přemysl Otakar II. It is one of the largest discoveries of its kind in the Czech Republic.

The chance discovery was made earlier this month, when a man stumbled across a few of the coins when walking in a field near the village of Sepekov in South Bohemia.

Archaeologists from the Prácheň Museum in Písek, who were called on the site, subsequently discovered some 800 silver coins, so-called bracteates.

Tomáš Hiltscher,  photo: ČTK/Václav Pancer

Archaeologist Tomáš Hiltscher is one of the people who surveyed the location.

“Unlike the coins that preceded them, and those that came in the years after, bracteates are one-sided. They are quite big and very thin and they contain a very large amount of silver. The bracteates that we found bear the image of a king, most likely Přemysl Otakar II, and four fish in a circle."

Over the centuries, the coins have been scattered around the area by ploughing, but according to the archaeologists, they have remained exceptionally well-preserved. All of the coins are of one type, which leads them to believe that they came straight from the mintage.

Photo: ČTK/Václav Pancer

“It is a truly unique find. All coin depots from the Middle Ages are very unique and as far as I know, such a large amount of bracteates has never been discovered in the area. In fact, it is one of the largest finds of such coins ever made in the Czech Republic.”

The reason why someone hid such a large amount of coins under the ground will probably remain a secret. It was most likely buried there by a noble man or a member of the church, but that will also remain unclear.

“In the 13th century, these coins started to enter regular circulation. They were no longer a privilege of the nobility, so they could have been owned by some wealthier farmer.

Photo: ČTK/Václav Pancer

“When we were surveying the area, we discovered a settlement dating to the 13th century. It is not exactly clear if it was just one homestead or a whole village.

“What we know is that during the time when the depot was put under ground, it was either still there or it ceased to exist shortly before that.”

The coins will be presented to the public in a short-term exhibition in the Prácheň Museum in Písek probably later this year, after they have been restored.

The discovery of the rare medieval coins is already the fourth such find made in the area over the past five years.

Probably the most valuable treasure was discovered in 2017, when a woman discovered a vessel full of 11th century silver coins in a forest near the village of Řeteč.

Another find was excavated that same year in the village of Kučeř by a man who was digging in his garden.