Scotlands History

Silver boom

For 100 years – between c.1125 and 1225 AD Medieval Europe became the world centre of silver production. The silver found in Europe helped to fund the building of the great Gothic cathedrals of France and the Crusaders in the Holy Land. Mines in Cumberland, Northumberland and Durham were at the heart of European silver production.

After the death of King Henry I of England, David I of Scotland supported the claim of the Empress Matilda against King Stephen who had seized the English throne. David I marched south into England and took a number of English castles, including Carlisle which he made a royal base. The lands he captured in Cumbria included English silver mines. As David established control in Cumberland, Northumberland and Westmoreland the Scots benefited from the silver boom.

The silver boom allowed King David I – later known as ‘a sair sanct for the crown’ – to spend comparatively vast sums of money founding abbeys and churches as he brought monastic and military orders to Scotland. Scottish burghs imported 'foreign merchandise and the riches of distant nations’. In time Henry II reclaimed the English counties.

  • Photo of silver coin with a pattern of a cross and four fleurs-de-lys

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