Kent Archaeological Review extract

Potin Coins in Kent.
by Malcolm King.

The following passages are taken from a paper entitled British Potin Coins: a Review by the late D F Allen which appeared in a volume of papers presented to Sir Mortimer Wheeler entitled 'The Iron Age and its Hill-Forts', edited by Margaret Jesson and David Hill (published by the Southampton University Archaeological Society for the Departmant of Archaeology, University of Southampton, 1971)

'Potin coins differ from all other British coins, except the late series from Hengistbury and Holdenhurst, in that they are cast in moulds. Though none have yet been found the moulds were certainly of clay. They appear to have been individually made by hand; no two coins have ever been found from the same mould in Britain, nor, I believe on the Continent. It looks as if the moulds were used only once and discarded. Somewhere, probably in Kent, a vast heap of broken moulds must await discovery.

The coins bear evident traces of how they were made. They were, like their continental counterparts, cast in strips and chopped into individual coins afterwards. The metal remaining from the runnels joining one coin to another was not cut away; all the coins retain projecting 'tangs' at either end, except the last in the line, which has only one. From the proportion of these single tang coins it can be deduced that the average strip probably contained five or six coins. The tangs are always on the centre line. It is probable that a number of strips formed, as it were, branches of a tree on the moulds, but the tangs remaining are not long enough to demonstrate how they were arranged: pages 127 - 128.

' is essentially from start to finish a coinage of north Kent, the part of Britain with probably the closest links with France. We can be sure that it lasted right up to the Claudian conquest; we can deduce, albeit in a roundabout way, that it went underground in hoards during Caesar's campaign, which will have affected Kent more than anywhere else. We can surmise, without direct evidence, but on continental analogies, that it started in a small way near the beginning of the first century BC.

It was, without question, the first small change coinage in Britain, and hence the first evidence for the retail market of the kind of which there were so many in Gaul, a step, incidentally, in the direction of urbanisation. Outside Kent it has, in the main, been found in the oppida or settlements. Who issued it, and by what authority it obtained and retained its value we cannot know. Those who wrote these minimal value cheques or banknotes on the clay did not add the cashier's signature. As in Gaul, where the volume of potin coins was vast, there is rarely any direct connection between them and other contemporary coinages which proudly bore the names of the kings or magistrates which made them'. Conclusion, pages 143 -144.

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