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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Icklingham Roman Coin Hoard - 1864 Archive


Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and Natural History
G. Thompson1864

On Saturday, July 22nd last, a man ploughing the south-east corner of the first, or most southern field of Dix's charity land at Icklingham, turned up a few fragments of a small vase of Durobrivian pottery, together with the coins in question.
A portion of the find, comprising seventy-seven coins, came into my possession. soon afterwards; and a much larger number was obtained by the Rev. Robert Gwilt, the Lord of the Manor, who kindly placed them in my hands for examination. The precise number found is variously estimated, but it probably did not exceed four hundred.
The coins are all of silver, denarii and quinarii of the emperors of the latter part of the last century of the Roman rule in Britain. The majority are in a good state of preservation, and the metal untarnished; in several instances the coins are as brilliant as when first issued from the mint.
Of the vessel that contained them, the only portions recovered were the base, with its narrow foot and half the neck, representing a jar of about half a pint in capacity It had evidently been broken some time previous to its final discovery; and fragments of it had, no doubt, been carried away in former ploughings, without materially disturbing the contents.
A visit to the spot, and a careful examination of the soil in the immediate vicinity, resulted in the finding of four other coins, but no further fragments of the crock The ground around however contained many small shards of different descriptions of pottery, from which I infer that the rising ground hereabouts was the site of dwellingplaces during the Roman occupation; and that, beneath the floor of some hut or temporary dwelling, the small hoard was buried in some season of alarm, or for better safety during its owner's absence from home.
If a conjecture may be hazarded as to the date of the deposit, I should, for two reasons, place it about the year 408. The coins themselves, I think, testify to an early period in the reign of, Honorius; for there is a marked absence of any example of the Eavenna mint, which was not established by that emperor until the year 405. And, also, about the time Zosimus, a contemporary historian, informs us* that the British troops being in revolt under Constantine, and sustaining his cause in Gaul, the country was again invaded by the Saxons, who were, after some fighting, repelled by the inhabitants. Although the part of the province subjected to this incursion is not, indeed, mentioned, it is far from improbable that the district around Icklingham was involved, and that the owner of the coins may have met his death in defence of the station itself.
In the appended list of 349 coins—all that have come under my notice—there is but little, calling for remark. All bear the emperor's diademed head to the right, with the bust clad in cuirass or paludamentum, or both; while, of the reverses, none approach any high degree of rarity. The exergual letters, with two exceptions, are given in Cohen's Medailles Imperiales; and indicate, so far as at present understood, the mints of the following cities, namely:—Lyons, Aries, Treves, in Gallia; Eome, Aquileia, and Milan, in Italia; Siscia, in Illyricum; and possibly Constantinople. The coin of Valens, having the letters SPAK in the exergue, is of very rude workmanship, and the letters are upside down, closely following the reverse legend. It may either be assigned to Aquileia, as suggested by Professor Churchill Babington, on the supposition that K may have been written by a barbarism for Q—AQ being always the mint mark of that place; or to Aries, supposing the final letter to be a mutilated R. The mint mark R * q upon the coin of Gratian, is not to be found in Cohen; and it is somewhat uncertain what the second letter is intended to be. It may be either a small Q or a reversed P, most probably the former, for Quarta or Prima; referring to the particular officina, or workshop, of the Mint of Rome from which the coin originated.
The proportion of denarii to quinarii is not easy to determine with any exactness, on account of the varying sizes and weights of the coins, and I do not attempt to distinguish them in the list. I may add, however, that the smaller coins would be, in proportion, about one-fourth.






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