Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Celtic Coins

Traditional historians have tended to overlook the role played by Celtic coinage in the early history of British money." There is a paucity of written evidence from the period before the Roman conquest but "hundreds of thousands of Celtic coins have been found, mostly on the Continent, where hordes of up to 40,000 coins have been discovered. In a number of instances we have learned of the existence of certain rulers only through their representation on coins Celtic monetary development is seen in its most concentrated form in Britain. Originally the Ancient Britons used sword blades as currency before they started minting coins. The earliest Celtic coins found in Britain "were of pure gold, being direct imitations of the gold stater of Philip II of Macedon...the spread of knowledge of such coinage is...generally held to be the result of migration and in particular the use of Celtic mercenaries by Philip and Alexander." Britain was probably the last of the major Celtic areas of northern Europe to begin to mint, and the last to maintain independent minting before being overwhelmed by Rome.


Silver Stater design of Ossismiic.75-50BC





The earliest known date for copies of Philip's stater in Britain is 125 BC. As their experience of minting grew the Celts' designs became more original. As befitting a pastoral people the horse was a common feature.

Gold Coin of Philip ll of Macedonia

The Celtic love of hunting was also illustrated by the boar designs favoured by the Iceni of East Anglia, and as farmers they also gave tribute to the fertility of East Anglia by prominently depicting ears of wheat, similar to that on modern French coins.
In addition to gold and silver coins, the Celts on the continent and in southern Britain also produced potin coins using various combinations of copper and tin. These were small in size and were cast, not struck or hammered as were the dearer gold and silver coins. Since their intrinsic value was low it is probable that they circulated as tokens, accepted for trade at a higher value than the value of the metal of which they were composed. No great skill was required in their manufacture and therefore it is quite possible that the ubiquitous Celtic smiths were able to supply local demands to supplement the official issues.

Cunobelin Sun god
Bronze c.AD 10-43
Rare bronze of Cunobelin, c.AD10-43, with Celtic sun-god Belenus 'the shining one,' after whom Beltaine is named. Cunobelin means 'hound of Belenus.'


Norfolk: Eoeni Tribe
Silver War goddess c.30-10BC
Norfolk God silver unit of the Eceni, c.30-10 BC, formerly attributed to Queen Boudica. Head of Celtic war-god with boar-skin headdress, based on Roman denarius with Juno Sospita wearing goat-skin headdress

Cunobelinus Corn Ear Fertility Coin






I love the primal antiquity of Celtic coins. Firstly over 2,000 years old, they were the first coins made in England, the first in France, the first in Belgium, the first in Germany, the first in Switzerland, long before these nations had a national identity.

Gold Stater of the Parisini Tribe
France c.100-75BC



I love the tribal regality of Celtic coins. Many were stamped with the names of rulers known to us only through their coins. Addedomaros, king of the Trinovantes, c.45-20 BC. Boduoc, king of the Dobunni, c.25-5 BC. Tasciovanos, king of the Catuvellauni, c.20BC-AD10. Sam, king of the Cantii, c.AD1-10. Vep Corf, Esup Asu, Dumnoc Tigir Seno and Dumnocoveros Volisios, kings of the Corieltauvi, c.5BC-AD45. Antedios, king of the Eceni, c.AD1-40. The very sound of their names is cheering to my ears.

Gold Coins of the Atrebates Tribe





Gold Stater of the Ambiani c.55BC

I love the freedom fighters of Celtic coins, those brave warrior-kings and warrior-princes who opposed the power of Rome. Such as Commios 'the bow' of the Atrebates and Vercingetorix 'king of a hundred battles' who both fought Julius Caesar in Gaul, and Caratacos who attacked the Claudian army in Britain for seven years until he was betrayed by Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes in AD50.Rare gold stater of Dumnocoveros Volisios, c.35-43 AD, found at Scotch Corner, North Yorkshire, 20 August 1995. Dumnocoveros, son of Volisios, may have been king of the Parisi, Brigantes or Corieltauvi.
Vercingetorix
Rare Gold Coin of the Averni Tribe







Boudicca Coin









Gold Coin of Caracatus








I Love the imaginative imagery of Celtic coins: giants trailing decapitated heads on cords, cavalrymen charging into battle in chain-mail armour, dozens of different gods and goddesses, suns and moons, skulls and chariot wheels, thunderbolts and lightning. They are miniature masterpieces of surrealistic curvilinear art. Whichever way you view them - sideways or upside down - they always look well balanced and pleasing to the eye.


Rare gold stater of Veneti, c.100-75 BC, with severed heads attached to head of Celtic god, possibly Ogmios.
Rare bronze of Veliocasses, c.80-50 BC, with severed head hanging from arch


I love the amazing menagerie of creatures on Celtic coins: bears, boars, bulls, butterflies, cocks, crabs, cranes, dogs, dolphins, ducks, eagles, hares, all kinds of horses - some with wings, some with human heads, some with three tails or three phalli, some breathing flames - goats, lions, lizards, owls, rams, rats, ravens, shrimps, snakes, stags, starfish, worms and wolves. Plus centaurs, dragons, griffins, horse-dogs, sea-horses, sphinxes and ram-horned serpents.Design from silver stater of Osismii, c.75-50 BC. Severed heads are tied to the head of a Celtic god and to a human-headed horse. The boar-standard was carried into battle by Celtic warriors.
Starfish
Gold Stater Addedomaros, c.45-20BC



Gold Wolf Rump and Bird, Norfolk
Eoeni. C.54-50BC


Norfolk Wolf gold stater of the Eceni, c.54-50 BC. Perched on the wolf's rump is a bird. Gold stater of Addedomaros, king of the Trinovantes, c.45-20 BC. Starfish spiral combines solar and lunar imagery Rare bronze of Cunobelin, c.AD10-43, with Celtic sun-god Belenus 'the shining one,' after whom Beltaine is named. Cunobelin means 'hound of Belenus.' Rare silver unit of Commios, c.50-40 BC, king of the Atrebates and former ally of Julius Caesar. Nose of phallic face is in mouth of larger head. Found near Chichester, 8 April 1995. Norfolk God silver unit of the Eceni, c.30-10 BC, formerly attributed to Queen Boudica. Head of Celtic war-god with boar-skin headdress, based on Roman denarius with Juno Sospita wearing goat-skin headdress.
I love the mythic mystery of Celtic coins. When I look closely at this late Iron Age money I catch glimpses of long-lost legends and ancient pagan rituals, such as head hunting, divination, bull sacrificing and shape-shifting. I marvel at the plethora of occult signs and arcane symbols. I feel the power of Druid priests who probably influenced many of the designs on Celtic coins.Head of Andraste, the war-goddess worshipped by Queen Boudica, with ram-headed snake. Rare silver unit of Eceni, c.50-40 BC
Head of Andraste with ramheaded snake

I love the hidden humour of Celtic coins. On this gold stater of Tasciovanos no less than six hidden faces are visible, some glad, some sad. Robert Van Arsdell writes: 'A hidden face on an Ancient British stater has eluded numismatists for two hundred years. Tasciovanus hid the face on his staters and it took me only seven years of owning one of them to see it. Celtic artists liked to hide faces on their artwork. They had a fine appreciation for the surreal. They loved now-you-see-it-now-you-don't images. The art tied in with their religion. Things are not what they seem. Behind everyday scenes lurk unseen forces manipulating the action.'
I love the astonishing heads of Celtic coins. They are unlike any other heads you see on any other coins - stronger, stranger, wilder, weirder, more fantastic, more surrealistic - and demonstrate the importance of the head in Celtic religion. Anne Ross says: "The Celts venerated the head as a symbol of divinity and the powers of the otherworld, and regarded it as the most important bodily member, the very seat of the soul."
Rare gold stater of the Dobunni, c.AD10-25, inscribed ANTED RIC, 'Antedios the king.' Found at Hereford, 1989.








Rare Bronze of Valiocasses, c. 80-50BC







Rare gold stater of Tasciovanos. Cavalryman holds Celtic war trumpet. Found at Chelmsford, Essex, 1995



Celtic Dynastic Coinage

ATREBATES AND REGNI: Commius, Tincomarus or Tincommius, Eppillus, Verica




Tincomarus Stater






Silver Commios King of the Artrebartes c.50-40 BC
Rare silver unit of Commios, c.50-40 BC, king of the Atrebates and former ally of Julius Caesar. Nose of phallic face is in mouth of larger head. Found near Chichester, 8 April 1995.




Rare Gold Stater of Dumnocoveros Volis



CANTII: Dubnovellaunus, Vosenos, Amminus



Dubnovellaunus silver coin

TRINOVANTES AND CATUVELLAUNI: Addedomaros, Dubnovellaunus, Diras, Tasciovanus, Sego, Andoco, Dias Rues, Cunobelin, Epaticcus, Caratacus


Gold stater Tasciovanos c.20BC-AD10





Tasciovanos Coin








Cunobelin -----------------------------------Gold Coin of Sego







Epaticcus Coin



DUROTRIGES
Crab
design coin






DOBUNNI: Anted, Eisv, Inara, Catti, Comux, Corio, Bodvoc


Celtic Quater Gold Stater Dobunni





CORIELTAUVI: Avn, Cost, Esvp, Rasv, Vep, Vep, Corf, Dvmno, Tiger, Seno, Volisios, Dvmnocoveros Volisios, Dvmnovellaunos Volisios, Cartivel, Iat, Iso, Cat






Corieltauvi 'Kite' Stater


ICENI: Can, Dvro, Anted, Ecen, Edn, Ece, Saenu, Aesu, Ale, Sca, Aedic, Sia, Prasutagus


Iceni Coin




































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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