One of the only kings in British history to have been given the title of ‘Great’, Anglo-Saxon King Alfred, was famous for his laws in education and fair governance.
In the 1,150th anniversary year of his coronation, The Royal Mint has commemorated his reign with a brand new £5 coin, with a design dedicated to the Alfredian educational reforms.
Alfred took over as King of Wessex in 871 in the middle of a year of nine major battles between the West Saxons and Vikings. He was also tested in 878 when he was forced to retreat to the marshes of Athelney (Somerset), the scene of some of the legendary stories about him, including the well-known ‘burning of the cakes’.
However, Alfred came back to win a decisive victory in the same year over his Viking opponent Guthrum at Edington (Wiltshire).
John Bergdahl’s design of this brand new coin is based on the Alfred Jewel, one of the most celebrated historical artefacts surviving from Anglo-Saxon England.
It was thought to have been once attached to a handle and used as a pointer stick for reading. Made of enamel and quartz, and enclosed in gold, the Alfred Jewel is inscribed “aelfred mec heht gewyrcan” meaning “Alfred ordered me made”.
This exceptional and unusual example of Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship now features on this new UK £5 in a fitting tribute to Alfred the Great, who had a reputation as a learned man who encouraged education.
In Alfred’s mind, learning was essential to his kingdom but most of his people were illiterate, even in their native tongue. To combat this, Alfred established a school at court, where freedmen of adequate means could learn to read, he had books translated from Latin to English, and told monks to begin writing the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, which would later act as the primary source for the early history of England
There have been some incredible UK coins that have celebrated our Kings of England. Scroll down to discover more…
2020 King George III £5
The 2020 George III £5 was issued as part of the 2020 Annual Coin Set to celebrate Britain’s longest reigning King, 200 years after his death.
King George III was the first king of the United Kingdom (which was officially formed in 1800) and to this day remains the longest reigning king in British History, reigning for an astonishing 59 years.
Throughout his reign, Britain fought in wars against France and America and from these wars the country emerged as a world power.
Designed by renowned Royal Mint designer, Dominique Evans, the famous portrait of George III has Windsor Palace to the left and the King’s Observatory to the right.
2017 King Canute £5
To celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the coronation of King Canute, a £5 coin was issued by The Royal Mint.
Recognised as one of the most prominent kings of the Anglo-Saxon era, Canute is widely remembered for conquering kingdoms across northern Europe including England, Denmark, Norway, and areas of Sweden.
King Canute’s achievements and influence paved the way for the nation we recognise today. He strengthened the currency, initiating a series of coins of equal weight to those being used in Denmark, so it’s only fitting that the design of this £5 coin was inspired by the original currency of King Canute.
2009 Henry VIII £5
Henry VIII had an eventful reign over four decades from 1509 – 1547, overseeing the union of England and Wales in 1535 and founding the Royal Navy.
However he is most well-known for having six wives, two of whom were executed under the charge of treason. In later life, Henry became grossly overweight as a consequence of not being able to exercise after a jousting incident, which hastened his death in 1547.
This £5 coin was issued by the Royal Mint in 2009 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII to the throne. The reverse design by John Bergdahl features a recreation of the famous standing portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein.
2018 Prince Charles £5
In a blog dedicated to our Kings of England, it’s only fitting we pay tribute to our future King, Prince Charles.
On the 14th November 2018, HRH The Prince of Wales celebrated his landmark 70th birthday.
To mark this milestone and to honour his lifetime of dedication to the British people, an official commemorative UK £5 coin was issued by The Royal Mint.
The reverse features a new portrait of the prince by widely respected engraver Robert Elderton, who was once an apprentice engraver at The Royal Mint at its previous home in Tower hill more than 50 years ago.
There have been some incredible UK coins celebrating British Kings, with the brand new 2021 UK Alfred the Great £5 being no exception.
Do you have a favourite? Let us know in the comments below!
Secure the brand new 2021 UK Alfred the Great £5 for your collection!
Your coin will come in superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality presented in official Change Checker packaging.