This new series will detail my Top 10 finds recorded each month. Here are those from December.
First up is this Republican Denarius of L Cassius Longinus minted in 78BC (BERK-1037DC). On one side is the head of a young Bacchus or Liber while on the other is the head of Libera (Proserpina) left. It is particularly interesting as there are few Roman denarii found in the region. This one was recorded in Berkshire but was found only just over the border in Oxfordshire (so it counts here!)
Another similarly interesting coin is this Venitian soldino (BERK-0FF90D). These coins were used in England because during the 15th and 16th centuries the English economy experienced a serious shortage of English-struck halfpennies. In order to fill this gap people began using foreign coinage such as the soldino, meaning ‘little shilling’, which entered into English currency through Venetian traders.
For my Masters I studied Roman weighing equipment, so I was quite excited this month to record my first two steelyard weights. These weights would have been used on the most common form of steelyard in Britain. One of the weights (BERK-9D26BA) has signs of one loop, which means it slid along the balance are to indicate the mass of an object. The second (BERK-9D65E3) has signs of two loops which means it hung between chains on the load end of a steelyard.
Like this other example on the PAS (WMID-184456)
Another weight brought in was this one of a female head (BERK-A056FA). The head has a hairstyle parted in the centre with a knot at the neck, possible ear wreath. Continental examples have a bust draped in a toga and a more distinctive hairstyle. It is likely that this weight is insular rather than imported and might have been made from old moulds.
Another thing I had not seen before was this token from the Borough of Andover for the benefit of the disabled poor which is dated 1666. During the mid-17th century (c.1648-1672), due to a shortage of official coins, halfpenny and farthing tokens were issued by private businesses to facilitate small change exchange.
Although we usually only record objects older than 300 years, sometimes interesting more modern objects come to our attention. This ring (BERK-B2CCB4) is a plain band on the outside with one soldered join. The inside of the ring has a series of indistinguishable letters but many look to be ‘A’s. This is probably a piece of ‘trench art’ or WWI / WWII Prisoner of War ring made from a coin. The lettering is from the legend on the coin and was probably a British penny reading ‘BRITANNIA’
This dress hook (BERK-88E6EB) comprises a gilded cinqfoil base-plate, the edges of each leaf are are notched, surmounted by five hemispherical gilded bosses. None of any possible filling of these bosses is extant. Between the five large bosses is a piercing for the missing separate decorative central element. Trefoil and quatrefoil are more usual than this cinquefoil example.
There was also this Bronze age palstave (BERK-8D73C4) with traces of a primary / early group III Middle Bronze Age date (1500-1300 BC) – most probably associated with the Acton Park II and Taunton metalworking assemblages (Needham Period 5) – both assemblages fit within BurgessMetal Working Stage VIII and IX. It is broken close to the tip and in area where it would be very hard to break.
Finally is these three coins of Allectus (BERK-B28EFB, BERK-B1EB02, BERK-B1C271) which make up 15% of all the Allectus coins found in Berkshire. His coinage is found in every part of Britain as putting his own coinage into circulation would be a way of legitimising his rule.