EXCITED archaeologists have unearthed a key piece of Hampshire’s heritage.

They have uncovered a rare silver penny that would have been currency during Alfred the Great’s reign as King of Wessex from 871 to 899.

It was found on the site of a former off-licence in Jewry Street, Winchester, which has been knocked down to make way for a restaurant and apartments.

Wessex Archaeology’s coin expert, Nick Cooke, said he was unable to estimate the equivalent modern-day value of the penny because the Saxons did not have a sufficiently developed monetary system.

He said King Alfred’s coins – which would have been a political statement as much as anything else – would generally have only circulated in the upper echelons of society.