The Portable Antiquities Scheme is running a wide variety of events to coincide by the CBA’s “Festival of British Archaeology”. These range from finds identification days to Young Archaeologist Club sessions. To find out more about our events, please view the attached PDF, or visit the CBA’s dedicated site for the festival.
If you get involved with social media, perhaps you could tag your media with #FBA2009?
When Clare Murton, a volunteer at St Agnes Museum, was sorting through the large amount of material that had been given to the Museum by the family of Dr Whitworth, one of five generations of doctors in general practice in St Agnes, she came upon a piece of paper which had a sealing wax impression of a Roman coin, together with the following account written by Dr Whitworth in 1910:
‘In 1910 Mrs John Tonkin of Carn Golla picked up in a field recently enclosed from the Common, which had just been scuffed or harrowed, a Roman gold coin the size of a half-sovereign, bright and in perfect preservation …’
Clare sent an image of the impression to the British Museum to ask if they could identify the coin and her message reached Roger Bland of the Department of Portable Antiquities & Treasure. He was very excited by it as he recognised it as an impression of a gold coin of the Roman emperor Julian (AD 360-63) which was known to have been found at St Agnes in 1910, although the coin itself had long since been lost and no detailed description of it survived. The coin proved in fact to be a new variety minted at Lyon in France between AD 361 and 363.
Even more intriguingly, Roger was able to link this discovery with the record of another find of Roman gold coin of Valentinian I, emperor immediately after Julian, between AD 364 and 375, which was recorded as having been found at St Agnes in 1680. It would be a great coincidence for two coins made nearly at the same time to have been lost by accident in the same area and it is more likely that the two coins were buried together and so form a hoard.
Through the skill of the British Museum’s Facsimile Technician, Mike Neilson, it has been possible to make an electrotype copy of the coin and Roger Bland presented that to St Agnes Museum today.
Roger Bland said:
“I am very grateful to St Agnes Museum for showing us this seal impression of a gold coin of Julian and am delighted to be able to present an electrotype replica of the coin to the Museum as part of the work that the British Museum’s partnership with other museums in Britain. The discovery of the seal impression of this coin among the papers of Dr Whitworth makes a fascinating story: not only is this coin a hitherto unpublished variety, but Roman gold coins are very rare finds from Britain: only 9 others are known from Cornwall and fewer than 700 from the whole country, so this is a doubly interesting find.”