A PORTLAND resident has discovered another 'love token' at Church Ope Cove, prompting theories about what once took place on the sandy shores.

Edward Dahl first found a silver sixpence, dating from 1696 during the reign of William III, back in 2018. A second love token has since been uncovered at the cove - a 1819 shilling from the time of George III.

The coins display the distinctive bend that love tokens were given, plus piercings which allowed the coins to be hung around the neck.

"I was just looking at what was around when I found the coin," Edward says. "There's a lot of history in the area, with the ruined church and pirate tombstones, and with it supposedly being the first place Vikings landed in 789AD. It's a lovely area, and you can just imagine a young girl looking out to sea and pining for her true love."

The popularity of love tokens took hold during the late 1600s, when coins were often given to young women by their suitors as symbols of love. One or both sides would be smoothed down to prevent the coin from being used as money, before it was engraved with initials, names or phrases, often in artistic script.

Usually, silver three or sixpenny coins were used, but rarely anything larger. If the coin was kept, it was a said to be a sign that the young man's affections were reciprocated.

Over the years, Edward has collected various copper coins and items from the area, many of which - including the love token from 1696 - he has donated to Portland Museum. "I think it's nice for future generations to see these things," he says. "I like to show people the history of the place. These love tokens, though, they're so rare, I never expected to find a second."

Church Ope Cove is a secluded beach on the eastern side of Portland, overlooked by Rufus Castle. After the initial Viking invasion, the cove remained a popular location for smuggling activity over the centuries.

Portland Museum recently secured a grant of £27,600 from Arts Council England to fund a project exploring the myths and legends of the area.