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New book on Winchester history finally published after decades
10:10am Thursday 26th April 2012 in Winchester
THE progress remains painfully slow - but finally after decades an important new book on Winchester history has finally been published.
The Winchester Mint tells the story of the coin-making workshop that produced at least 24 million silver pennies, and possibly as many as 50 million, from Anglo Saxon times to the 13th century.
The mint, located in the Pentice area of the High Street was a symbol of the power of Winchester when it was the capital of England before it was usurped by London.
The volume, launched last Friday, draws together much of the work of the archaeologists who delved into the earth under the city centre between 1961 and 1972.
Led by Prof Martin Biddle, the series of urban excavations have been hailed as among the most important in Europe.
The Winchester Mint, price £100, is volume eight in the Winchester Series published by Oxford University Press. Many more will follow, depending on funding.
The last year the Winchester Excavations Committee launched an appeal to raise £80,000 and are half way to the target.
A Friends of Winchester Studies organisation is being formed to help with fund-raising and place the publication schedule on a firmer footing.
Attending the launch in the Old Museum at Winchester College were more than 100 people including Dr Yvonne Harvey, the lead author who has travelled the world to take photographs of more than 3,000 of the surviving 5,000 coins.
Jock Macdonald, vice-chairman of the Winchester Excavations Committee, said of the book: “It is not just about Winchester. It is very much a part of England. It is the history of England and the history of the birth of England.”
Prof Biddle, editor of the Winchester Series, said the series was on firmer ground than in 2008-10 when its future was in doubt before generous donations from Lords Ashburton and Sainsbury secured its immediate future.
Present at the launch was Stefan Lipa, professional fundraiser, who back in the 1990s helped the cathedral raise £7 million and has been advising the committee.
Prof Biddle said: “We are winning but we can only win with people’s help.”
Forthcoming volumes in the series include later this year The People of Early Winchester covering the thousand years from Romano-British times to the Middle Ages and also The Historic Towns Atlas of Winchester due early in 2013.
This summer a folding map of Winchester in 1800 will be published by Old House Books, price £9.99.