Half Sovereign of Henry VIII

Gold Half Sovereign (obverse)

...a complete surprise discovery when it came out of a concretion...

Although many coins both gold, silver and copper were found distributed throughout the Mary Rose when excavated, this gold coin was one of only six half Sovereigns.

The Half Sovereign had only been introduced in April 1545, a few months before the sinking of the ship in July, as part of Henry VIII’s fiscally-inspired debasement of the currency.

Research is being carried out at the Diamond Light Source the synchrotron science facility in Harwell to investigate the source and purity of the gold.

Quick Facts

  • Artefact number #03A192
  • Made of gold
  • Issuer King Henry VIII
  • Date issued April 1545
  • Found on The Mary Rose
  • Coin struck at The Tower Mint, London


  • The obverse view of this coin shows the King seated on the throne holding and orb and sceptre. Birds sit on the pillars of the throne. The latin legend of this coin is HENRIC 8 DI GRA AGL FRNCIE Z HIBERNIE REX, meaning Henry VIII, by Grace of God, King of England, France and Ireland. The mint mark is a pellet within an annulet, the mark of the Tower mint.
  • The reverese of view of this coin shows a crown over a shield, with a lion and dragon either side, and HR in the monogram below. The latin legend is IHS', AVTEM TRANCIENS PER M[ ]DIVM ILLORVM IBAT, which translates as "But Jesus, passing through the midst of them, went His way", a Biblical quotation from Luke iv. 30. The reverse view of this coin can be seen in the "Gallery" section.

Did you know?

This coin was a complete surprise discovery when it came out of a concretion that was being cracked open by a student.


Gold Half Sovereign (reverse)

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