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Title: Celtic gold stater
Item Name: Currency

Description:

Part of the hoard of Celtic gold staters (dated to c50BC) found in 1999-2001 by local metal detectorists Jack Cooper and Alec Thompson on agricultural land in the Beverley area. Corieltauvi tribe (from modern Lincolnshire, Van Ardsell type 811. Face on obverse, stylised horse and star and two raised dots on reverse. A total of 46 coins from the hoard have been purchased by the Council, with over 100 found on the site (as of 2008).


Culture: Iron Age
Materials: copper; gold
Measurements: Diam:1.8cm; Wt:5.53g
ID_Number: ERYMS : 2001.2.2

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Iron Age coinage
The first coins produced in this country date to the late Iron Age (from about 50BC). Elsewhere in the world, the earliest coins were made in Lydia (modern day western Turkey) in about 600BC and were made of electrum – a naturally occurring alloy of gold & silver.

Iron Age coins were until recently quite rare finds in East Yorkshire. They date from about 50BC to 50AD. All were hand struck and because conical pieces of metal were used rather than flat blanks, the resulting coins have a characteristic 'dished' shape.

In East Yorkshire, you will usually only see gold 'staters', based on coins of Phillip II of Macedon (Alexander the Great’s father). They were made by the Corieltauvi tribe who lived in what is now Lincolnshire. There is no evidence that our local tribe, the Parisi made their own coins.

The designs on these coins are quite abstract, being typically 'Celtic' and free flowing – the originals from which they derive had a head of the Greek sun god Apollo on one side, and a horse on the other side. The Iron Age staters in this country can also feature various symbols - for example, stars, or a dotted motif which archaeologists have called a 'domino' after the modern playing piece. Sometimes the convex side is blank.

Smaller silver coins are sometimes also found – again, with abstract designs.

Examples of both gold staters and silver units can be found in the East Riding Museums collections at the Treasure House. The staters are mainly from a hoard found near Beverley from 1999 onwards and which now comprises over 100 individual coins. More continue to be found at this site, which suggests they represent a hoard dispersed by ploughing. We only have two silver coins in our collection at present and there is no evidence for copper alloy coinage in our area at this period.

Some Iron Age coins bear names, probably local chiefs or 'kings'; from our region there are coins with the names Esuprasus and Dumnovellaunos for instance.

Coins were a way of demonstrating and storing wealth. They may have been used in a variety of ways, including gifts from chiefs to followers, bridal payments, as tribute payments to a stronger neighbouring tribe, or to purchase other valuable commodities like cattle. Exactly how they might have worked as a regular system of currency is unclear, particularly in the absence of much small change. The use of coins may have been quite restricted, with perhaps most people using a system of barter instead.

For a recent overview of the Iron Age archaeology of our area see 'The Parisi, Britons and Romans in Eastern Yorkshire' (2013) by Peter Halkon. Other recently reported finds of coinage from the East Riding may be found by searching the online catalogue of the Portable Antiquities Scheme at finds.org.uk
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