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The British Museum

NMS-2539D1: Iron Age coin: Facing horses silver unit

Rights Holder: Norfolk County Council
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Unique ID: NMS-2539D1

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

So called Facing Horses (Right type) silver unit. obverse two horses rearing face-to-face, reverse horse right, small inverted horse above and a boar below, an issue of uncertain origin, an example of which (found at West Meon, Hants) was sold by Chris Rudd in 2016. Dated to circa 50-40BC.


An example sold in Chris Rudd's list 150 in December 2016 was described thus:

Facing Horses. Right Type. c.50-40 BC. Silver unit. 15mm. 1.07g. Two horses rearing face to face, harness between noses, s-shape tail raised, cogwheel between, two smaller opposed horses below, rings around./ Horse right, ladder-like mane, cogwheel in front, small inverted horse above, boar right below. ABC−, VA−, BMC−, S−. PAS: HAMP-FCA2F3 (this coin). A newly recorded type, unrecognised prior to the discovery of this important coin and unlisted by all major reference works. Tiny edge chip, otherwise Near EF, exquisitely executed on large flan of bright silver, magnificent animals. A superlative example. EXCESSIVELY RARE only one other known (a fragment).

The only other recorded specimen of the Facing Horses Right Type is a large badly chipped fragment found over 20 years ago, CCI 95.3389, according to Dr John Sills (pers.comm. 28.10.2016). Ours is the only complete example known and, as such, is of the highest rarity, probably unique. It was found not long ago near West Meon, Hampshire, by Pete Beasley, the metdet who discovered the famous 'Alton I and II' gold hoards with Pete Murphy at 11am, 17 March 1996 (which we valued for the finders), now in the British Museum. Though found in Hampshire, the land of the Belgae, the very large size of its flan and its very distinctive opposed horses and its 'three-beast' reverse all indicate that this beautifully designed coin could be equally at home with the Abingdon Zoo types from Berkshire (cf. ABC 1001-1007, 2113-2116, 2273). Britain's facing horses coins were undoubtedly inspired by and copied from the Gallo-Belgic series of aux chevaux affrontés types, DT 433-443. Indeed the dies for our remarkable coin could well have been cut for a southern British ruler by a Gallo-Belgic émigré, fleeing from the Gallic Wars.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: IRON AGE
Period from: IRON AGE
Period to: IRON AGE
Date from: Circa 50 BC
Date to: Circa 40 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Thickness: 0.6 mm
Weight: 1.3 g
Diameter: 16 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 5th May 2018 - Saturday 5th May 2018

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

SMR reference number: Oxford

Materials and construction

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

Coin data (numismatics)

Denomination: Unit (silver)
Status: Regular

Coin references

No coin references available.

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Oxfordshire (County)
District: West Oxfordshire (District)
Parish or ward: Aston, Cote, Shifford and Chimney (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SP3602
Four figure Latitude: 51.71558011
Four figure longitude: -1.48031461
1:25K map: SP3602
1:10K map: SP30SE
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: NMS
Created: 3 years ago
Updated: 2 years ago

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