In a remarkable find, metal detectorists stumbled recently upon a trove of ancient Greek gold coins scattered across an open field in Anglesey, a Welsh island. This momentous event marks the first instance of uncovering Iron Age currency in the country.
Coins found in Wales depict ancient Greek god Apollo
The collection consists of 15 coins, remarkably well-preserved and believed to have been minted somewhere between 60 B.C. and 20 B.C. These coins, called “staters,” (Ancient Greek: στατήρ) were widely used as money in ancient Greece. They have a distinct design influenced by gold coins from the time of Philip II, the king of the ancient Macedonian kingdom.
On one side, these coins showcase the likeness of Apollo, the Greek god, adorned with a wreath, while the other side displays a two-horse chariot with a rider, as stated in an official announcement.
These coins are believed to have been circulating amongst the Corieltavi tribe, who inhabited the region during the Iron Age. This discovery sheds new light on the history of the area and its ancient inhabitants.
Designation of coins as a treasure
Recognizing the significance of their discovery, they promptly informed the Portable Antiquities Scheme, an institution overseen by the British Museum and Museum of Wales. Recently, authorities have designated this finding as a “treasure.”
This sequence of events underscores the importance of vigilant individuals in unearthing and preserving valuable pieces of history.
Lloyd Roberts, one of the dedicated metal detectorists involved in the remarkable find, shared his excitement, stating, “Finding a gold stater was always number one on my wish list.”
Roberts expressed his delight at the revelation that these coins constitute the first-ever hoard of Iron Age gold coins to be unearthed in Wales.
Historical background of the coins
Although experts from the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, an organization dedicated to archaeology services for Wales, remain uncertain about the coins’ journey to the field, they do possess knowledge regarding their origin.
These coins were minted at three distinct locations in what we now recognize as Lincolnshire, a county in England. This discovery adds a new layer of intrigue to the ongoing exploration of historical artifacts.
Coming across coins from this specific era within Wales is a truly uncommon occurrence. This is primarily because the Iron Age communities in this region typically operated without the use of external currency.
Theory about the purpose of these coins
Drawing from past investigations that suggest the island held significance as a “crucial religious hub” spanning from the first century B.C. to the first century A.D., specialists propose a fascinating theory regarding the purpose of these coins.
It is believed that these coins might have been employed as offerings to the divine, providing an intriguing glimpse into the religious practices of the time. This revelation deepens our understanding of the historical tapestry of Wales and its ancient inhabitants.
First hoard of Iron Age #gold coins to be discovered in #Wales has been declared as treasure. Three metal detectorists found the 15 #coins containing gold and silver in Llangoed on Ynys Mon in 2021. (60BC – 20BC)
(📸© Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales)#History 🧐👀🏴 pic.twitter.com/fzXnfkCU8Y
— Jon Hawke 🏛️🏺 (@HawkeJon) August 10, 2023
In a statement, officials expressed their enthusiasm: “This hoard is a fantastic example of the rich archaeological landscape that exists in [northwestern] Wales.” They further said, “While the immediate vicinity of the find did not yield any clues as to the find’s origin, the findspot lies in an area of known prehistoric and early Roman activity and helps increase our understanding of this region.”
For those eager to witness this exceptional coin collection, it will be showcased at Oriel Môn, a museum and gallery situated in Anglesey. This exhibition promises to provide a captivating journey into the historical legacy of the area.