Celtic Coinage of Britain

third edition

Click on coin to see hidden information









Of the dozens of people who have added to our understanding of Celtic coins, two should be singled out for their special contribution.

My friend, the late Henry Mossop worked quietly on the coinage for over thirty years. His insight into the privy-marks and keen eye for typology gave me the tools to reorganize the coins. Much of the section on the Corieltauvian coinage reflects his ideas, and the overall theme of "sophistication" owes its existence to his studies. I will always remember the many hours spent at Henry's home discussing and studying his collection. The kind hospitality of his wife, Marjorie, always made the trip to the Mossop's home more pleasant.

Peter Northover, of the Department of Metallurgy and Science of Materials at Oxford, has revolutionized our knowledge of Bronze and Iron Age metal-working. His electron microprobe studies of the coins have revealed, for the first time, the sophistication of Iron Age alloys. He successfully identified the progression of alloy-types, which provided much of the support for the dating used in this catalogue. Additionally, Peter performed all the metallurgical studies used to expose the Haslemere forgeries. Since 1989, he has continued to work out the details of of the silver and copper-alloy coins, and has worked to identify additional modern forgeries.

Originally the catalogue was to have been co-authored by Lyn Sellwood. She contributed greatly to the original concept for the 1989 book. To a great extent, the choice of material, and the order of its presentation in the 1989 edition of Celtic Coinage of Britain reflect her thinking. She helped with the early stages of the writing and cataloguing, and offered much valuable criticism and insight. Her work on die-identies was instrumental to the exposure of the Haslemere forgeries, and she made important contributions to the work on the cast coinage of Kent. The demands of a career-change prevented her from from continuing as co-author – the 1989 book would have benefitted had she been able to do so.

The support and advice of the archaeological community throughout Britain was greatly appreciated. Clare Conybeare of the Salisbury and Wiltshire Museum helped with material from the Pitt-Rivers collection. The late Jeffrey May of the University of Nottingham provided information on the Corieltauvi, and suggested that the "potin" coinage of Kent should more appropriately be called a "cast bronze" coinage. Paul Sealey of the Colchester and Essex Museum informed me of new Trinovantian/Catuvellaunian coins, while Andrew Fitzpatrick, now at Wessex Archaeology, offered his insights into the coinage of Tasciovanus and Cunobeline. David Allen, of the Hampshire Museum services, provided information about hoards of Atrebatic coins found in Hampshire. Niall Sharples, provided information about the 1980's excavations at Maiden Castle.

The late George Boon, Curator of the National Museum of Wales in the 1980's, spent considerable time discussing the collection of Celtic coins held at Cardiff – and important resource for Celtic studies. He offered many useful suggestions about manuscript for the 1989 book, and his encouragement was always helpful. He was instrumental in exposing the Haslemere forgeries in the Dobunnic series, and went on to be a tireless warrior against numismatic forgeries, arguing that they compromised the archaeological record.

The late Tony Gregory provided information about finds of Icenian coins. He was a one of the early archaeologists to work closely with the local metal detector community, often providing archaeological training. Much of his approach undoubtedly influenced the thinking behind the current Portable Antiquities Scheme. John Taylor continues Gregory's work on the Icenian series, and provided chronological insight into the series.

Randy Bingley and Terry Carney of the Thurrock Local History Museum, Grays, working with Allen Bennet, a numismatist, provided information about the find of cast coins known as the Thurrock Types. Mr. Bennett's appreciation of the importance of the find, and his work to record it deserves special mention. The quick thinking and insight of the three men has preserved a major find for future workers. In 2013, Mark Fox re-evaluated the hoard and offered additional thoughts about it.

Chris Going helped with the discussions of amphorae, archaeological contexts and chronology. He also kept me informed of finds of cast bronze coins in Essex, especially the Stanstead Hoard. Paula Thomas and Thom Richardson suggested hoard analysis methods.

Ian Brooks offered help by analyzing ancient tool-marks on damaged coins. His incomparable knowledge of ancient tools and their uses was helpful in distinguishing the work of the Haslemere forger from that of ancient die-cutters.

Finally, the encouragement of the excavation teams at Danebury, the two Danebury Environs Projects and Brading Roman Villa were a great help. The archaeologists, finds specialists, supervisors and excavators all took time to looks at the coins and offer their comments. Some have continued to go on and test early versions of this website and offer useful suggestions for improvement. Appreciation is extended to Cynthia Poole, Assistant Director, Graham Barton, Andy Brown, the late Rosemary Goodyer, Kathy Laws, the late Beth Mcfarlane, Vivian Mead, Simon Pressey, Julian Rouse, Paolo Scremin, John Taylor, Sandra Turton, Ian Cartwright, Melanie Giles, Melanie Solik, Richard Osgood, Emma Durham, Mark Munson, David Low, Briony Lalor, and Wendy Morrison.

Most of the illustrations are either the author's own photographs, or images from the Celtic Coin Index. The Institute of Archaeology in Oxford provided easy access to the Index over 25 years, and was helpful in providing images for publication. Special thanks is extended to Barry Cunliffe of the Institute of Archaeology, and the successive keepers of the Index: Lyn Sellwood, Derek Harrison, Philip de Jersey and John Sills. The help of the Institute's photographers, Robert Wilkins and Ian Cartwright, in obtaining images was most appreciated. The Index images are now freely available for non-commercial use, making it easier to produce scholarly numismatic articles. Several museums were particularly helpful in supplying photographs for illustration. The help of the British Museum stands out because of special effort of the late Dr. J.P.C. Kent, Dr. Andrew Burnett and the Photographic Department. They provided better-quality prints of the images from the Celtic Coin Index. Many of the coins illustrated are in the BM collection, and the cooperation extended made the publication of the book possible. Other museums furnished photographs: the Colchester and Essex Museum, the Norwich Castle Museum, the Museum of the Iron Age, Andover, and the National Museum of Wales. Richard Bartlett of the Harlow Museum provided photographs from the excavations at Harlow Temple.

The help of the numismatic community deserves special recognition. The late David Sellwood offered his expert advice on ancient coining methods many times over a period of years. The section on coin manufacture, metallurgy, the cast coinages, and the Haslemere Forgeries could not been have been written without his help.

Dr. J.C.P. Kent, former Keeper of Coins and Medals at the British Museum, kindly read the manuscript and offered many useful suggestions; his help with literature references was most appreciated.

Melinda Mays helped with the typology of the Durotrigan coinage. Daphne Nash-Briggs offered encouragement in the study of modern forgeries. John Casey offered insights into monetary matters. Edward Besley and Andrew Burnett offered encouragement and assistance. John Talbot helped with the Icenian series, and John Sills offered insight into the Gallo-Belgic series. Miranda Alehouse-Green offered much insight into the nature of Celtic religion and the appearance of religious motifs on a wide variety of archaeological finds.

The outstanding work of the numismatic and archaeological communities of Belgium, France, Germany and Spain also deserves mention. Much of the pioneering work in Celtic coinage is being done on the Continent, and the help offered by these workers was crucial to my studies. Simone Scheers offered much insight into chronologies, M.J. DeBord helped with the continental potin coinages and ancient forgeries of Gallo-Belgic coins. Brigitte Fischer offered advice on potin coins. W. Binsfeld of the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Trier provided access to the collection of Celtic Coins and helped with literature references. Mr. C. Pare, and Dr. Pferdehirt of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz helped with chronologies and literature references. Michael Eggar of the Prähistorisches Staatssammlung, Munich helped with discussions of typology and modern forgeries.

Katherine Gruel was especially helpful. Her outstanding work in blending typology, metallurgy and metrology, and her application of statistics to coin studies is well-known. She offered valuable assistance in the chronology of late Armorican coinages.

The work of the Associación Numismática Española on the pre-Roman Celtiberian coinage deserves mention. Leandre Villaronga and José Pellicer Bru helped with the Continental background of Iron Age coinage.

Some of the most consistent and enthusiastic help came from coin collectors and dealers.

Of the researchers and collectors, Robert Clarke's help in obtaining photographs of new types was especially crucial to the completeness of the catalogue. Others who deserve mention for their advice and support are the late Ian Finney, J.C. Sadler, G. Dunger, Frank Payton, A.W. Harrison, P. Thompson, Dan Dolata, Irwin Schneider, the late Albert Levy, Frank Greco, Dieter Kaltz, Hans Denk, David Johnson, John Budden and Jeremy Porter. Ron Morley provided information about the finds at Joist Fen.

Many dealers helped with information, Peter Mitchell and the late Michael Sharp of A.H. Baldwin and Sons were especially helpful – they brought many new types to my attention and put their exceptional cabinet of coins at my disposal. The work of C.J. Martin, Paul Withers and Joe Linzalone in this are was also crucial. Joe Linzalone offered help over a period of 35 years, and provided coins to photograph. David Miller, Chris Rudd and Liz Cottam worked diligently to bring new types and modern forgeries to my attention so the catalogue would be complete as possible.

Other dealers who helped were, Lloyd Bennett, the late Leo Dardarian, Jean Elsen, Victor England, Richard Gladdle, Robert Ilsley, Paul-Francis Jacquier, Dr. Lanz in Munich, the staff of Münz Zentrum in Cologne, Mr. Ritter in Düsseldorf, Dr. Arnold Saslow, Peter Sheen, Frank Sternberg, the late Carl Subak, Jon Subak, Italo Vecchi, Paul Vecchi, the the staffs of Vinchon in Paris, Coin Galeries in New York, X. and F. Calico in Barcelona and Peter Preston-Morley and Jim Brown of Dix, Noonan and Webb in London.

Many book dealers provided the the background materials that made my studies possible. Douglas Saville and Philip Skingley in the UK and George Kolbe in the US tracked down all the obscure numismatic works I required. Simon Westall in London, Castle Books, Classics Bookshop, Archaeology Plus and Oxbow Books in the UK did an absolutely phenomenal job of finding thousands of rare archaeological books, historical works and excavation reports. It is seldom mentioned how important the work of antiquarian book dealers is to numismatic studies.

Several people read early manuscripts of the book and offered valuable criticism – the help of the late J.P.C. Kent, Dr. John Collis, Douglas Saville and Patrick Finn, and Joe Linzalone was much appreciated.

The staff of Spink and Son deserve special appreciation as publishers of the 1989 book. May Sinclair and Susan Barker kept everything glued together despite the difficulties of writing a book on one continent and publishing it on another. The late Douglas Liddell encouraged my studies on the coinage and help me locate many rare types for publication. Douglas Saville worked with the typesetters and printers to produce the book, and did just about everything connected with its production from the selection of the format, to overseeing the binding operation. Since the publication of the book, the people at Spinks have continued to help in many ways, including obtaining permission to use images from older Spink publications. Douglas Saville and Philip Skingley were very supportive in this effort.

I would like to thank several people for their help in the testing stage of the current web site. Cynthia Poole offered important suggestions to improve the way the plates worked. Mark Fox spent untold hours testing the site to make sure it worked on the SeaMonkey browser. Joe Linzalone, Wendy Morrison, Briony Lalor, Philip Skingley and Liz Cottam offered helpful advice and much appreciated encouragement. Countless people helped test the site across different hardware platforms and browsers. Many thanks to all of you for your help – you have sped up the launch of the site immeasurably.

I have reserved the end of this section to single out the contribution of two people for special comment.

First, the help and guidance of the late Patrick Finn of Spink and Son paved the way at every step. He was the first person to recognize the need for a new publication on Celtic Coins, and was the champion of the 1989 book from the very start. He introduced me to many of the people mentioned above, solicited help on my behalf, and put the exceptional cabinet of Celtic coins at Spinks at my disposal. He encouraged my work on the exposure of the Haslemere Forgeries, and did not hesitate to publish my early articles on Celtic coins in the Numismatic Circular. He was always in the lead in suppression of modern forgeries because he realized, better than anyone, the damage they caused to the archaeological record and the problems they created for collectors, dealers and museums. I always accepted his sound advise in numismatic matters.

Finally, the encouragement and guidance of Barry Cunliffe provided the balance required to complete the work. It was Barry's suggestion that prompted me to work out a new classification system for the British-made coins. My appreciation of Celtic sophistication owes much to his writings on Danebury, Hengistbury, the Ancient Celts, the cross-channel trade and the Atlantic Façade. His publications, Celtic from the West 1, 2 and 3 and Britain Begins, have given me the resolve to continue calling the coins "Celtic".











A catalogue such as this cannot be created without the active help of many interested people. The author hopes no one has gone unrecognized.


Copyright R. D. Van Arsdell 2017