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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

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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, Delestrťe-Tache 241, Cottam ABC 16, Van Arsdell 52-1, Castelin 289, De la Tour 8710, SCBC 11, EF, 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


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

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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


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

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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.

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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.

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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


British Celts, Iceni (East Anglia), Antedios, c. 10 - 30 A.D.

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The obverse and reverse of this type are derived from the portrait of Apollo obverse and the chariot reverse on the gold staters of Philip of Macedon. On 22 Nov 1849, when he was 26 years old, Sir John Evans presented a diagram to the Royal Numismatic Society tracing the evolution of ancient British coins from the Macedonian prototype to the "Galulish Philippus" to this and other types. The evolution of the reverse reverse was less dramatic. On the obverse, the change was radical. The prototype can only be recognized by tracing the increasing abstraction from one type to the next, as Evans did. The lines and rows of pellets perpendicular to the double crescent emblem, evolved from Apollo's laurel wreath.
CE55906. Silver unit, Cottam ABC 1645, Van Arsdell 711, CCCBM 3800 ff., gVF, toned, weight 1.089 g, maximum diameter 13.9 mm, 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, daisy of pellets above, pellet triad and ANTED (ANT ligature and DE ligature) below; well struck for type; SOLD


Dobunni, Celtic Britain, c. 30 - 15 B.C.

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The Dobunni lived in southwestern Britain, roughly what is today North Somerset, Bristol, and Gloucestershire; and at times their territory may have extended into parts of Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire. Their capital acquired the Roman name of Corinium Dobunnorum, Cirencester today.
CE55910. Silver unit, cf. ABC Cottam ABC 2018; Van Arsdell 1045; SGCV I 377, VF, weight 0.737 g, maximum diameter 13.6 mm, die axis 0o, Dobunni mint, c. 30 - 15 B.C.; obverse Celticized Moon head right, stalk lips, crescents for hair; reverse Celticized triple tailed horse left, abstract bird head above, flower motif below; scarce; SOLD


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

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CE55908. Silver unit, Cottam ABC 1681, Van Arsdell 752, CCCBM 4297 ff., VF, weight 1.209 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, 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; scarce; SOLD


British Celts, Tribes South of the Thames, Atrebates and Regni, Tincommius, c. 30 B.C. - 10 A.D.

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At the time of Caesar's invasion of Britain, the Atrebates, "the settlers," covered Sussex, Berkshire, west Surrey, parts of Hampshire, north-east Wiltshire. The Regni, originally Regini, "the stiff ones," occupied Sussex in Roman times.
CE91998. Silver unit, Cottam ABC 1127, Bean TIN4-8, Van Arsdell 371, SCBC 88, VF, toned, scyphate, crudely engraved dies (as normal for the type), weight 1.268 g, maximum diameter 14.0 mm, southern mint, 1 - 10 A.D.; obverse star with six rays and central pellet, blundered DIVVS IVLIVS across between the rays, pellets between other rays; reverse boy riding dolphin right, TINC below; ex CNG e-auction 328 (11 Aug 2010), lot 698; SOLD


Celts, The Durotriges, British Tribe, South West England, 60 B.C. - 20 A.D.

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The design was based on the Weterham type gold stater. This coin was once considered very rare and Sear lists it at 150 pounds. Since publication of Sear's "Greek Coins and their Values," a significant number have been found.
CE01630. Billon stater, SGCV I 172, VF, weight 3.4 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 0o, obverse abstract bust right; reverse abstract horse running right; SOLD




  




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REFERENCES|

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).


Catalog current as of Monday, November 11, 2019.
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