WILT-0FA13F: Roman coin: Denarius of Carausius

Rights Holder: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
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Unique ID: WILT-0FA13F

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

A pierced silver denarius of Carausius dating to the period AD 286-293 (Reece period 14), VIRT CARAVSI AVG reverse type depicting a lion facing left holding thunderbolt. Mint of London. Mintmark: -//RSR; commonly attributed to London, but to be studied further. RIC V, pt 2 -

The coin has been pierced, a circular perforation which has been drilled through the reverse is located at 6 o clock on the obverse and 12 o clock on the reverse.

This is the first denarius of this type to be recorded, although a second piece is similar - see LANCUM-5CE838. It is included in Sam Moorhead's corpus for RIC.


Denarii of Carausius revived the good silver standard of the first century AD (c.80%-90% pure). Normally a single silver coin found on its own would not meet the criteria for Treasure under the terms of the Treasure Act 1996. In this case, however, it was the opinion of the British Museum that modification of the coin into a pendant has removed it from circulation and transformed it into an object. Single pierced precious metal coins do not appear in currency hoards in the Roman period, and so this tranformation of the coin into an object would appear to have been permanent. As it was greater than 300 years old and composed of more than 10% precious metal, the pendant met the criteria for Treasure.

However, at Inquest the Coroner felt that opinion on this matter amongst experts was divided, and his attention was drawn to silver pierced coins of similar age and type that had been recorded by the PAS and not submitted as potential Treasure. He therefore decided that there was not enough evidence to declare this item as Treasure.

Subsequently the British Museum and PAS examined the records of the other single precious metal coins with piercings and accepted that there were some which should have been reported as Treasure but were not. It clarified its advice on modified coins (https://finds.org.uk/treasure/advice/piercedcoins) and updated Finds Liaison Officers so that in future they would advise that such items should be reported. Single precious metal coins from the Iron Age to AD1180 in the Medieval period which have been modified in any way, including by a single piercing, are considered to fulfil the criteria for Treasure because they should be regarded as single precious metal objects.

All other precious metal coins that have been modified, including by a single piercing, and which have been reported under the Treasure Act have been declared Treasure by coroners.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder after being declared not Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2015T880


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Period to: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 286
Date to: Circa AD 293

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Weight: 3.49 g
Diameter: 20.6 mm

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Richard Henry
Identified by: Mr Richard Henry
Secondary identifier: Dr Sam Moorhead

Other reference numbers

Other reference: SSWM 4262
Treasure case number: 2015T880

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Manufacture method: Struck or hammered
Completeness: Complete

Coin data (numismatics)

Denomination: Denarius (Empire)
Denomination qualifier: Certain
Ruler/issuer: Carausius
Primary ruler qualifier: Certain
Reece period: Period 14 [275-296]
Mint or issue place: Londinium
Mint qualifier: Possibly
Obverse description: Laureate draped and cuirassed bust facing right
Obverse inscription: IMP CARAVSIVS P F AVG

Reverse description: Lion advancing left holding thunderbolt in jaws
Reverse inscription: VIRT CARAVSI AVG

Die axis measurement: 6 o'clock
Reverse mint mark: -//RSR
Status: Regular
Status qualifier: Certain

Coin references

No coin references available.

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Suffolk (County)
District: Babergh (District)
To be known as: Aldham

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: WILT
Created: 3 years ago
Updated: 2 years ago

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