Cost of living Lessons from history about how we spend
In 1967, a pot containing over 3,300 Roman coins was found in a field near the village of Cridling Stubbs in North Yorkshire.
A hoard of copper coins from 300 AD was still in the jar, pressed upright with a makeshift lid on top.
“We don’t know for sure why they were buried there, and why nobody came back to find them,” says Kat Baxter, curator of archeology and numismatics at Leeds Museums and Galleries.
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“That’s the beauty of them – we don’t know the answer. It’s so mysterious.”
We may not have answers, but we have theories. The coins not only help us think about what the wealthy were doing with their cash some 2,000 years ago, but can also spark some debate about the cost of living and cash today.
The crumbling stubs hoard may have been buried for religious reasons, as some sort of offering to the gods.
Another possibility is that it was hidden somewhere before banks and building societies considered it safe, especially if the owners felt their money could be taken in times of conflict.
Ms Baxter says, “These were the safety concerns at the time. We have the same concerns today but they just take a different form.”
Fraudsters steal £4m from people in the UK every day, so protection against such evils is top of the agenda for the finance industry and its customers.
The Cridling Stubbs Hoard is among more than 400 items on display at the Money Talks exhibition running at Leeds City Museum until 26 June.
As well as the safety of money, the exhibition explores topics including how money is used in toys and games, the development of banking, and various examples of currency used around the world.
“Everyone has some kind of relationship with money,” says Ms. Baxter.
Our relationship with money is currently being tested, not only through the rising cost of living, but also through the changing way we pay for things.
Since 2015, the consumer group Which? According to , around 4,685 bank branches have closed their doors.
Another 226 are already set to close by the end of the year, it says, while the rate of closures in rural areas has leveled off in urban areas.
People are increasingly using their smartphones and computers to manage their finances. Cards are now a more common mode of transaction than notes and coins.
However, which one? warned that a move to a cashless society would leave millions of people “lost from the harvest”. The government recently announced in the Queen’s Speech that it would legislate to ensure that people have access to cash withdrawals and deposits within a reasonable distance of home.
The exhibition in Leeds confirms that there are plenty of examples through history of changing ways of paying for things.
Take, for example, commodities used as currency. A display case holds a finely polished and ground axe. It was probably never used to cut anything, but would have been used in some kind of transaction – like bartering.
- How money has been made over the years
Ms Baxter points out that if notes and coins were to disappear entirely, it would have a huge cultural impact.
One part of the exhibition explores how cash has been used as a lucky charm in a variety of ways – from being placed in the new bride’s shoes to being worn as a necklace.
“Going cashless doesn’t just mean losing physical coins, it also means losing many traditions,” she says.
Less attraction and more convenience is the way payment is often embedded in the things we wear and carry nowadays.
Using a smartphone or watch, many of us would regularly tap to pay for items, or bus or train fares,
Maybe we’re happy to lose some of the convention and physicality of cash?
A recent survey by card issuing platform Marqeta found that 77% of respondents aged 18 to 24 are confident enough in contactless payments to leave their wallet at home and go out with just their phone Were.
Although the pandemic sparked a transition to contactless and mobile wallets, it is their ease, security, and quickness that have made them so popular.,” says Anna Pora, European strategy director at Marketa.
Although she says that these so-called intelligent mobile wallets are still in their infancy.
Diners are already paying at a restaurant by scanning a QR code on their phone at the table and paying the bill without calling a waiter. She says, soon we will be standing at a bus stop and scanning the QR code so that we can buy something nearby.
The most important development, she suggests, will be when our devices not only act as payment mechanisms, but also use artificial intelligence to tell us how to manage our finances.
The merger of payments and financial services can also give businesses information about our ability to buy something on credit, and guide consumers on how to make payments and whether it is affordable.
So-called super apps in the US and China are already identifying what financial products may be available to consumers, as well as providing other services such as food, hotel and taxi options.
Ms Pora says wider adoption of intelligent wallets will only come if providers also offer extensive education, to ensure users can be confident and have control over what is being suggested.
So, in the end it comes back to trust and security – not so dissimilar to the thought process of someone who buried a pot of coins in North Yorkshire some 2,000 years ago.