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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Geographic - All Periods| ▸ |Britain||View Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Coins of Britain

Before the Roman invasion, Britain was populated by Celtic tribes with well-established cultural and economic links with continental Europe. Although Julius Caesar conducted the first Roman campaign in Britain in 55 B.C., the conquest did not begin until A.D. 43, during the reign of Claudius. The British tribes initially opposed the Roman legions, but by 84 the Romans had decisively conquered southern Britain and had pushed into what is now southern Scotland. In 122 they fortified the northern border with Hadrian's Wall, which spanned what is now Northern England. In 142 Roman forces pushed north again and began construction of the Antonine Wall, but they retreated back to Hadrian's Wall after only twenty years. Following the conquest, native Britons were subject to the Roman governors but mostly kept their land, and a distinctive Romano-British culture emerged. The Roman Empire retained control until its departure about A.D. 430.Romanization of Britain

Celtic, Ambiani, North East Gaul, c. 58 - 55 B.C., Gallic War Issue

|Celtic| |&| |Tribal|, |Celtic,| |Ambiani,| |North| |East| |Gaul,| |c.| |58| |-| |55| |B.C.,| |Gallic| |War| |Issue||stater|
The Ambiani occupied the Somme valley in northern France. These uniface Gallic War staters were struck to fund the war against Julius Caesar in Gaul. The blank obverse is often ascribed to a need for speed in striking this emergency war coinage. There are, however, more than a few other similar uniface Celtic coin types and one blank side would do little to speed up the mint. More likely, they just found one plain side and one detailed side "nice enough." This type is often found in Britain, many of which may have been carried there by Celtic mercenaries retreating after Caesar's victories.
SH85134. Gold stater, Delestrée-Tache 241, Cottam ABC 16, Van Arsdell 52-1, Castelin 289, De la Tour 8710, SCBC 11, EF, scyphate, light scratches, weight 6.084 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, obverse plain bulge; reverse disjointed "Celticized" horse right, crescents and pellets around; ex Coins of Antiquity (Hillsborough, NC); SOLD

Anglo-Gallic, Edward III, 1372 - 1377

|France|, |Anglo-Gallic,| |Edward| |III,| |1372| |-| |1377||denier| |au| |leopard|
This type and similar billon Anglo-Gallic coins looked silver when issued, but after some use turned black, hence their nickname, "black money." They were usually hastily and poorly struck, heavily circulated and worn, and seldom hoarded. Surviving examples are now rare and mostly low grade.
ME94139. Billon denier au leopard, Elias 107b (RRRR); Hewlett type 2, VF, dark patina, clashed dies, weight 0.907 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 270o, 2nd type; obverse + ED' : REX : AnGLIE (King Edward of England), leopard, mB' below; reverse +DVX : AQIT : BVRD' (Duke of Aquitaine, Burdigala, : stops), cross pattée with crown in second angle, within inner circle; zero sales of this type recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades; extremely rare; SOLD

British Celts, Iceni (East Anglia), 65 - 1 B.C.

|Celtic| |&| |Tribal|, |British| |Celts,| |Iceni| |(East| |Anglia),| |65| |-| |1| |B.C.||unit|
Van Arsdell attributed this type to Boudicca.
CE63429. Silver unit, normal face/horse type; cf. Van Arsdell 792 and 794, Cottam ABC 1567, VF, weight 1.257 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 180o, obverse head right with moustache, trefoil before (unstruck), three pellets below; reverse Celticized horse right, belt lines which are a continuation of legs, large wheel-like object above, lozenge shape below with concave sides; ex CNG auction 146, lot 2; SOLD

England, Henry II, 1180 - 1189

|England|, |England,| |Henry| |II,| |1180| |-| |1189||penny|
Henry II struggles to make an impact on history. He ruled between the Norman Conquest and Magna Carta. He was great grandson of William the Conqueror, husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine and father to two of our more familiar kings, Richard the Lionhearted and King John.
WO95136. Silver penny, short cross class 1b; North I 963; SCBC 1344, VF, toned, light marks, weight 1.461 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 0o, London mint, moneyer Iefrei, 1180 - c. 1189; obverse hENRICVS REX (King Henry), crowned bust facing, crown with cross, 2 curls on left, 5 curls on right, cruciform scepter in right hand, hand and scepter dividing legend outside inner linear border; reverse + IEFREI • ON • LVND, voided short cross, four pellets connected by X in each quarter, inner dot border; SOLD

Anglo-Gallic, Edward III, 1372 - 1377

|England|, |Anglo-Gallic,| |Edward| |III,| |1372| |-| |1377||double| |au| |leopard| |sous| |couronne|
This type and similar billon Anglo-Gallic coins looked silver when issued, but after some use turned black, hence their nickname, "black money." They were usually hastily and poorly struck, heavily circulated and worn, and seldom hoarded. Surviving examples are now rare and mostly low grade.
ME94138. Billon double au leopard sous couronne, SCBC 8080, Elias 92c, Duplessy Féodales 1092A, Elias Collection 167, Boudeau 500, Poey d'Avant 2895, VF, dark toning, clashed dies, flan adjustment marks, tight flan, edge cracks, weight 0.912 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 90o, obverse + ED' REX : AnGLIE (King Edward of England, trefoil after ED and at end of legend), crown with leopard left below, rosette under leopard, all within inner circle; reverse + mOnETA DVPLEX (rosette at end of legend), cross pattée with crown in 1st and 4th angles, all within inner circle; scarce; SOLD

British Celts, Corieltauvi, c. 45 - 10 B.C.

|Celtic| |&| |Tribal|, |British| |Celts,| |Corieltauvi,| |c.| |45| |-| |10| |B.C.||unit|
The Corieltauvi were a tribe of Celtic people living in Britain prior to the Roman conquest, and thereafter a civitas of Roman Britain. Their territory was in what is now the English East Midlands. They were bordered by the Brigantes to the north, the Cornovii to the west, the Dobunni and Catuvellauni to the south, and the Iceni to the east. Their capital was called Ratae Corieltauvorum, known today as Leicester. They seem to have offered little or no resistance to Roman rule: Ratae was captured c. AD 44, and it may have had a Roman garrison. The Fosse Way, a Roman road, passed through their territory.
CE91983. Silver unit, cf. Van Arsdell 877, Cottam ABC 1800, SCBC-SII 397, VF, toned, slightly scyphate, weight 1.104 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, die axis 270o, Ratae Corieltauvorum (Leicester) mint, c. 45 - 10 B.C.; obverse stylized boar right, double upper foreleg, annulet below; reverse stylized horse right, pellet in ring of pellets above; rare variant; SOLD

Anglo-Gallic, Henry VI de Lancastre, King of France and England, 1422 - 1453

|France|, |Anglo-Gallic,| |Henry| |VI| |de| |Lancastre,| |King| |of| |France| |and| |England,| |1422| |-| |1453||grand| |blanc| |aux| |écus|
In 1422, the year old king of England inherited the French throne from his mad grandfather Charles VI of France; the iconography of this type represents the unification of the two nations. Ten years later Joan of Arc would make an appearance which would eventually loosen the English grip on France until by 1436 only Normandy and part of Maine remained in Henry's control.
WO95135. Silver grand blanc aux écus, Elias 281a (RR), Ciani 602, Duplessy 445, Lafaurie 449, SCBC-SII 8166; cross ancrée (anchored) mint mark, aVF, toned, weight 3.019 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 180o, Auxerre mint, authorized 23 Nov 1422; obverse (cross ancrée) FRANCORVm: ET: ANGLIE: REX (King of France and England), shields of France (on left) and England (on right), side by side, hERICVS (no abbreviation mark) above; reverse (cross ancrée) SIT: nOmEN: DnI: BENEDICTV (Blessed be the name of the Lord), Latin cross, fleur-de-lis to left, leopard left on right, hERICVS below; ex Classical Numismatic Auctions XX (25 March 1992), lot 1465 (catalog online); very rare; SOLD

British Celts, Catuvellauni in Atrebatum, Epaticcus, 20 - 43 A.D.

|Celtic| |&| |Tribal|, |British| |Celts,| |Catuvellauni| |in| |Atrebatum,| |Epaticcus,| |20| |-| |43| |A.D.||unit|
Epaticcus 'leader of horseman' was apparently a potent prince of the Catuvellauni; a son of King Tasciovanos and a younger brother of Cunobelinus. He evidently captured and ruled some Arrebatic territory south of the Thames, which is where his coins are found, shortly before the Claudian invasion.
SH62326. Silver unit, Cottam ABC 1346, van Arsdell 580, Hobbs BIAC 2024 ff., SCBC 356, aVF, weight 1.226 g, maximum diameter 12.9 mm, die axis 270o, 20 - 43 A.D.; obverse EPATI, head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress, pellet in ring behind; reverse eagle standing facing on snake, wings open, head left, pellet in ring upper right; SOLD

Celtic Britain, Durotriges, 58 B.C. - 43 A.D.

|Celtic| |&| |Tribal|, |Celtic| |Britain,| |Durotriges,| |58| |B.C.| |-| |43| |A.D.||stater|
This type is "copied" from the tetradrachms of Philip II of Macedonia. While the horse on the reverse is abstract, it still looks somewhat like a horse. The head of Apollo right on the obverse has, however, devolved into something completely unrecognizable. The diagonal rows of dashes on the left are devolved from the laurel wreath.

The Durotriges were vanquished by Vespasian and Legio II Augusta in 43 A.D.
CE59391. Silver stater, Cranborne Chase type; Van Arsdell 1235-1, SCBC 366, Cottam ABC 2169, aVF, weight 3.658 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, obverse devolved head of Apollo right; reverse disjointed horse left, pellets above and one pellet below belly, pellet-in-lozenge above tail; SOLD

British Celts, Iceni (East Anglia), Ecen, c. 10 - 43 A.D.

|Celtic| |&| |Tribal|, |British| |Celts,| |Iceni| |(East| |Anglia),| |Ecen,| |c.| |10| |-| |43| |A.D.||unit|
The Forncett Hoard included 381 silver coins found in one location in the vicinity of Forncett, Norfolk, between 1996 and 1997. The hoard was unusual because it contained both Celtic silver coins and Roman silver denarii. The deposit was likely lost at the time of the Boudican revolt.
CE73920. Silver unit, Cottam ABC 1681, Van Arsdell 752, CCCBM 4297 ff., VF, clear name, toned, weight 0.947 g, maximum diameter 12.4 mm, die axis 45o, c. 10 - 43 A.D.; obverse double crescent emblem (angles flanking two crescents back-to-back, all connecting two parallel lines), two pellets between the crescents; lines and rows of pellets perpendicular to the two parallel lines; reverse Celticized horse right, pelletal sun above, S below head, single line of dashed for main, pellet below tail, line of three pellets over Y shaped motif below; ex Chris Rudd, ex Forncett Hoard (Norfolk, 1997); scarce; SOLD


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Allen, D. Catalogue of Celtic Coins in the British Museum. (London, 1987-1990).
Allen, D. The Coins of the Ancient Celts. (Edinburgh, 1980).
Coins of England & the United Kingdom, Standard Catalogue of British Coins. (London, -).
Cottam, E., et al. Ancient British Coins. (Chris Rudd, Norfolk, UK, 2010).
de Jersey, P. Celtic Coinage in Britain. (London, 1996).
de la Tour, H. Atlas de monnaies Gauloises. (Paris, 1892).
Hobbs, R. British Iron Age Coins in the British Museum. (London, 1996).
Nash, D. Coinage in the Celtic World. (London, 1987).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Sills, J. Gaulish and Early British Gold Coinage. (London, 2003).
Van Arsdell, R. Celtic Coinage of Britain. (London, 1989).

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