Coin Relief – Issue Thirty-one

Welcome to another issue of Coin Relief. In this edition, Andrew Brown examines a rather funky series of nummi – the “Camp Gate” type. These are identifiable by the fabulous depiction of a camp gate on their reverse.

The ‘Camp Gate’ nummus issues of AD 317-330

This piece covers one particular reverse type of the Fourth Century, the ‘Camp Gate’ type, struck between AD 317 and 330 (Reece Period 18). Although most of the coins we will consider fall in the period AD 324-9, some earlier issues were minted at some central and eastern mints. Sometimes, people surmise as to whether it is a camp or town gate, or even a watchtower, but we’ll stick with camp gate for simplicity’s sake.

A search on the database brings up about 1,240 specimens, although further research and editing will probably find some more. So the totals given in this piece are subject to change with further editing. Most of the specimens on the PAS database come from the western mints of London, Trier, Lyon and Arles (just over 95% of the examples). A few come from the Central and Eastern Empire mints and are considered at the end of this article.

Mints recorded for Camp Gate issues on the PAS database.

PROVIDENTIAE AVGG/CAESS and VIRTVS AVGG/CAESS types

There are a number of varieties of camp gate types, the major determining factor being the reverse legend: either PROVIDENTIAE AVGG/CAESS or VIRTVS AVGG/CAESS. Several mints struck with both legends. However, in the west, London, Trier and Lyon only use the PROIDENTIA AVGG/CAESS legend. Other varieties derive from the number of turrets on the gate (two, three or four) and whether there is just an arched entrance (normal for the Providentia types) or open doors (normal for the Virtus types).

With regard to emperors for whom these types were struck, Constantine takes the lion’s share with 46.5% of the coins. His sons Crispus (11%), Constantine II (25%) and Constantius (17%). As most of the camp gate coins were struck after the defeat of the Eastern emperors Licinius I and II in AD 324, there are very few of their pieces. We will now go on to discuss the camp gate issues by Mint.

Camp gate coins by emperor.

London, AD 324-5

There was only a single issue of Camp Gaate coins at London as the mint closed in AD 325. Only the PROVIDENTIA AVGG/CAESS types were struck here. As there was only one workshop (officina) at London, the mintmark is PLON on all pieces. There are 123 Camp Gate coins from London on the PAS database, about 16% of the total. Although RIC VII is the standard reference for these coins, there is a recent publication which deals exclusively with the Mint of London and which provides more specimens: H. Cloke and L. Toone, The London Mint of Constantius I and Constantine I (Spink 2015). They date this issue to c. AD 325, but we’ll stick with the AD 324-5 date until there is a chance for a major re-edit.

Left to right: Nummus of Crispus Caesar (YORYM-F1BC24, York Museums Trust, License CC-BY-SA); nummus of Constantine II as Caesar (PUBLIC-A09F6B, Leonard Eeles, LicenseCC-BY-SA); nummus of Constantius II as Caesar (CORN-E0D45C, Royal Institution of Cornwall, License CC-BY).

Trier, AD 324-28

Trier has the largest number of coins with camp gate reverses from this period on the PAS database, with 512 entries (66% of all the recorded pieces). Trier struck in two workshops (officinae): P(rima) and S(ecunda). Therefore, coins are found with the core mintmark PTR or STR.

Constantine I is best represented with 210 coins (46%), followed by Constantine II (111 coins) and Constantius II (92 coins). Crispus was executed in AD 326, halfway through the issue period, which probably partly accounts for the small total of 42 coins.

There are four major issues from Trier which are outlined in the table below. All appear to have been of a similar size with numbers in the 70s and 80s, except for the P/STR crescent type which only has 31 pieces. Further editing will refine these totals.

Lyon (Lugdunum)

At Lyon there was only one issue of PROVIDENTIA AVGG?CAESS Camp Gate coins in AD 324-5. The min then closed temporarily until AD 330. This partly explains why there are only 39 pieces. Lyon only struck in one workshop (officina) at this time so all mintmarks are PLG.

Left: Nummus of Crispus (WILT-5731A4, Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum, License CC-BY-SA). Right: Nummus of Constantine II as Caesar (YORYM-26624C, York Museums Trust, License CC-BY).

Arles (Arelatum)

Arles produces Camp Gate types from AD 324 to 329, striking both PROVIDENTIAE AVGG/CAESS and VIRTVS AVGG/CAESS types. Arles struck in four workshops (officinae): P(rima), S(ecunda), T(ertia), Q(uarta). Despite this, there are only 64 pieces on the PAS database.

Central and Eastern Empire Mints

Issues of Camp Gate types from the mints of Rome, Siscia, Thessalonica, Heraclea and Cyzicus are represented on the PAS database in small numbers. The Mint of Rome struck both the PROVIDENTIAE AVGG/CAESS and VIRTVS AVGG/CAESS types. The mints at Siscia, Thessalonica, Heraclea and Cyzicus only issued PROVIDENTIAE AVGG/CAESS types.

Left to right: Examples of Camp Gate nummi from Rome, Siscia, Thessalonica, Heraclea and Cyzicus.