Celtic Coinage of Britain

third edition

Click on coin to see hidden information









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 1950s, the need for a comprehensive appraisal of hoards was answered by Allen (159). 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.


By the early 1980s, 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 (160).


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.


By the early 2000s, it could be said the list of 104 hoards was completely inadequate to serve the needs of researchers. No attempt to update the list was made in the 2012 second edition of Celtic Coinage of Britain and instead it was deleted. The original list, of course, can still be found in the 1989 edition of Celtic Coinage of Britain.


By 2012, a complete reappraisal of the hoard evidence was underway in an ambitious project conducted by Philip de Jersey. He sought out all the archival sources of hoard reports, including obscure reports in newspapers. De Jersey's meticulous and methodical approach to this work eventually yielded a much better understanding of the subject.


De Jersey's book Coin Hoards in Iron Age Britain appeared in 2014 and has completely filled the need for a comprehensive listing of the hoards and their contents. Considerable background material is included, making the book a superb reference for researchers.


The hoard interpretations published in the 1989 first edition of Celtic Coinage of Britain were deleted in the 2012 second edition. There is now a strong need to reinterpret the meaning of the hoard evidence. De Jersey's book provides a good departure point for researchers who want to tackle this monumental task.










Allen 1960a





Allen 1960a

Haselgrove 1978, 1984a and 1989c





A brief history of coin hoard reporting is given here.

The numismatic community is now well-served by Philip de Jersey's 2014 book: Coin Hoards in Iron Age Britain. This work provides an exhaustive list of hoards and their contents.

A new interpretation of the meaning of the hoard evidence is now needed – providing an opportunity for original research.


Copyright R. D. Van Arsdell 2017