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Hoards

 

The 1864 edition of Evan's Coins of the Ancient Britons mentioned both single finds and hoards within the main body of the book. The 1890 Supplement added to the known finds, but Evans never attempted to analyze the hoard contents, nor to present an overall account. Over the ensuing decades, individual hoards were reported and described in various numismatic and archaeological publications. Mack, in the 1953 edition of The Coinage of Ancient Britain, reduced the hoard discussion to brief notes in the catalogue listings.

By the late nineteen fifties, the need for a comprehensive appraisal of hoards was answered by Allen (156). He provided a list of 38 principal hoards, with a table comparing their contents. Mack, in turn, picked up Allen's list and made additions, listing a total of 78 hoards in the 1964 second edition of The Coinage of Ancient Britain. The final 1975 edition of Mack's work reproduced the 1964 list without changes.

Allen, 1960a.

By the early nineteen eighties, intense activity by metal-detector users turned up many new hoards, adding substantially to the total. The 1989 edition of Celtic Coinage of Britain picked up Mack's 1964 list and updated it, yielding a total of 104 'hoards'. Some of these had been listed in Allen's and Haselgrove's Gazetteers (157).

Allen, 1960a

Haselgrove, 1978, 1984a and 1989c

The term 'hoard' was now used in quotes because it had long been recognized that the list included many finds that didn't qualify as hoards in the usual sense, ie: groups of coins purposely secreted together in the ground. Some were temple offerings, collected over a long period of time, some merely coins found during archaeological excavations, and others were tallies of single finds collected from a given locality over a period of years.

The hoard records had never been considered very accurate, because they were often compiled from hearsay and incomplete reports of coin dispersals. This state of affairs was made considerably worse with the dispersal of several large hoards in the the 1980s with little or no recording. Attempts to reconstruct these hoards were never expected to be very accurate.

Today, it can be said the list of 104 hoards is now completely inadequate to serve the needs of current workers. No attempt to update the list has been made, and instead the list has been deleted from this site. The list, of course, can still be found in the 1989 edition of Celtic Coinage of Britain.

Currently, a complete reappraisal of the hoard evidence is underway in an ambitious project conducted by Philip de Jersey. He is seeking out all the archival sources of hoard reports, including obscure reports in newspapers. De Jersey's meticulous and methodical approach to this work will undoubtedly yield a much better understanding of the subject, and his publication is eagerly awaited.

 

 

 

 

 

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