November 07, 2014

Coining in Roman Britain Part 2. After AD 43: British Imitations

Local imitations of asses of Claudius. Note the
crude style and wild variety. Not to scale.

In the years following the Roman invasion of Britain, a somewhat unique phenomenon appears in the archaeological record. Crude copper coins bearing portraits of the emperor Claudius on their obverses, and the goddess Minerva on their reverses appear as single and site finds across Britain. To date over 600 of these coins have been recorded in the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. These crude copper coins have been interpreted as local imitations of genuine Claudian asses (low value copper denominations) struck in Rome. The local population of Britain, or the Roman army, (nobody’s quite sure yet!) may have struck these coins due to a lack of small-change in the new province of the empire. These copies seem to fade away after the reign of Nero. This is probably due to large numbers of smaller denominations reaching Britain.

domThis month's coin series on Roman Britain is written by Dom Chorney, a young numismatist from Glastonbury, Somerset. He studied for his undergraduate degree at Cardiff (in archaeology), and achieved a 2:1. Dom is currently studying for an MA in Ancient Visual and Material Culture at the University of Warwick, and intends to undertake a doctorate in 2015. His main areas of interest are coin use in later Roman Britain, counterfeiting in antiquity, coins as site-finds, and the coinage of the Gallic Empire.

Images from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, PAS HAMP-4F9392, BERK-BEF2B0, NARC-146308

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