The EMC database grew out of individual initiatives to record single-finds of coins from the period AD 410-1180 on the part of D. M. Metcalf, Mark Blackburn, Mike Bonser and others. Growth in the use of metal-detectors during the 1970's and 1980's led to a rapid rise in the number of such finds, and in 1987 efforts to record them were consolidated with the establishment of an annual 'Coin Register', printed in the British Numismatic Journal.
A decade later, Mark Blackburn, Keeper of Coins at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, began a project that would combine the strengths of the 'Coin Register' and other publications of coin-finds with the reach and flexibility of the internet. With financial support from the Leverhulme Trust, he established the Corpus of Early Medieval Coin Finds (EMC) in 1996, based in the Deparment of Coins and Medals at the Fitzwilliam Museum. The EMC website became accessible to the public in 1997, and the initial database of finds included over 6,000 records by 2001. The EMC database now contains more than 12,000 records from across England and Wales. It continues to grow at the rate of 300-400 new coin-finds per year.