Portable Antiquities Scheme identifies oldest Roman coin found in Britian

By Culture24 Staff | 22 July 2009
  • Archived article
a photograph showing both sides of a silver coin with a roman head on the left

Picture © PAS

As the Festival of British Archaeology gets underway, the national voluntary scheme which identifies and records finds made by members of the public has identified one of the oldest Roman coins ever found in Britain.

West Berkshire metal detectorist Malcolm Langford brought the 207 BC silver Roman coin, along with a rare Iron Age silver coin of Eppillus, to Oxfordshire and West Berkshire Finds Liaison Officer Anni Byard for recording under the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Byard quickly indentified the coin, which is in remarkably good condition, as the earliest known Roman coin yet found in Britain.

"I was speechless," said Langford, who had already researched the Iron Age coin he had brought in. "When Anni told me the date of the Roman coin I was absolutely amazed, I couldn't believe it.”

Depicting the helmeted head of Roma and the galloping Dioscuri, the silver denarius is earlier than any of the 600 similar coins recorded by the Scheme, and may have even arrived on our shores before the Roman invasion of Britain.

"What makes the coin even more interesting is that it is in almost mint condition," said Sam Moorhead, the Scheme's National Finds Adviser for Ancient Coins. "Most Republican denarii found in Britain are very worn, as they could be in circulation for up to 300 years. This new coin suggests that some of these Republican coins were arriving in Britain before Claudius invaded with his legions in AD 43."

The Festival of British Archaeology takes place throughout the UK until August 2, including many events run by the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Visit the Festival online for more details. For more on the Portable Antiquities Scheme, check out their website.

For ideas on where to go during the Festival, read our top 10 picks and two-part guide to activities run by the Portable Antiquities Scheme during the event in our Places to Go section.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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