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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Gallo-Belgic stater found on the Medway Marshes.
by Jim Williams.

PHOTO: The Gallo-Belgic Gold Stater.

The Gallo-Belgic Stater.

In the Spring of 1967, during field work by the Upchurch Archaeological Research Group on the Medway Marshes a very fine gold coin was found, lying on the surface of the mud, at site 005. See Footnote [1] It was submitted to Mr E W Tilley of Gravesend Historical Society who identified it as a Gallo-Belgic stater and provided the following description:

  • Gold, Gaulish stater of a type commonly found in Kent (Gallo-Belgic C, Allen). See Footnote [2]

  • Gaulish Atrebates Mack 26. See Footnote [3]

  • Obverse: Portions of laureate head of Apollo to right

  • Reverse: Crude (stylized) disjointed horse to right, pellets and curved ornaments above and below.

  • Date: Circa 100-70 B.C.

  • Weight: 98.59 grains.

  • Specific gravity: 14.89.

  • Estimated composition determined by X-ray analysis: See Footnote [4] 70-80% gold, 10-20% silver, approx. 5% copper.

  • Traces of silicon, calcium and chlorine. Silicon coming from the clay mould used in the manufacture of the coin See Footnote [5] and the calcium and chlorine from the sea water that covers the site twice daily.

In Belgic Gaul the find spots of this type are concentrated in the Pas-de-Calais area and the Somme valley, the territory of the Atrebate tribe who were centred at Arras . See Footnote [6]

The presence in Britain of Gallo-Belgic C, found mainly in central Kent, is thought to be due to the primary invasions of the Belgic tribes into the country and the distribution pattern of the find spots show the direction of tribal movement and settlement. See Footnote [7] The subsequent coin types struck in Britain (Brit A-K) being derived from Gallo-Belgic C. See Footnote [8]

Of the thirteen other find spots in Kent twelve have produced single specimens of this type, the exception being at Higham, near Gravesend, where eleven were found in a hollow flint. See Footnote [9] The Upchurch specimen is the only recorded Gallo-Belgic coin from the Medway marshes at Upchurch and is also the earliest of the pre-Roman coins that have been recorded from various parts of the marshes. See Footnote [10] These are all British types and using Allen's classification they are:

  • 1 bronze L x 26 (North Thames group) Circa 45-20 BC (Allen considers that this this is incorrectly identified and is more likely Ly 6 (South Thames group). See Footnote [11]

  • 2 Potin coins, class 1 type L? See Footnote [12] Circa 50 BC-50 AD.

  • 2 Bronze Kentish inscribed dynastic coins of Eppillus. circa 10-20 AD.

The coin has been deposited in Maidstone Museum.


Footnote 1.

KAR 29 Autumn 1972 Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 2.

D F Allen, FSA, "The Origins of Coinage in Britain: A Reappraisal," in Problems of the Iron Age in Southern Britain, 1961, S S Frere ed., 99, 104. (Origins). Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 3.

R P Mack, The Coinage of Ancient Britain, 1953. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 4.

Thanks are due to Dr Tony Cox and Colleagues for the metallurgical analysis. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 5.

R W Tylecote, "The Method of use of Early Iron Age coin moulds," Numismatic Chronical, 1962, 106. F C Thompson and M J Nasir, "The manufacture of Celtic coins from the La Marquanderie hoard," Num. Chron., 1972, 61. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 6.

Ornance Survey Map of Southern Britain in the Iron Age, 1962, 25, map 1. (OS). Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 7.

Origins, 98. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 8.

Origins, 132. OS Table 1. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 9.

Num. Chron. 1923, 156. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 10.

British Numismatic Journal XXVII, 211. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 11.

Origins, 191. Return to the paragraph.

Footnote 12.

D F Allen, FSA, "British Potin Coins: A Review," in The Iron Age and its Hill Forts, 1971, D. Hill, M. Jesson eds., 144. KARs Number 13 Aug. 1968, 8.  Number 22 Winter 1970/71, 58. Return to the paragraph.
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