Earl’s defiance led to Dalkeith being torched

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In 1572, the Earl of Morton, in his capacity as Chancellor of Scotland, ordered the provision of a mint in his castle at Dalkeith.

It was in opposition to the established one in Edinburgh Castle. New silver coinage was devised.

Two coins of different value were produced. The one having the greater value became known as a half merk piece and the other a 40 pence piece.

The face of King James VI was shown and the arms and crown of the sovereign.

An engraving of thistles indicated the nationality of Scotland and a cross underlined the religious faith. The year of minting was inscribed.

The new coinage was not well received. The English ambassador to Scotland advised London that there was a belief that the currency value had been debased and people feared an increase in the price of goods.

The government seems to have manipulated the silver content and made a substantial profit.

The institution of a new mint had a political reason. The country was divided into two camps. There was one which favoured the King and the other Queen Mary.

See this week’s Advertiser to read the rest of David Smith’s feature.