Examples of coins - not to scale

Numismatics is a complex subject which cannot be dealt with here in detail. There are extensive guides on this website for each period, which are listed below. The above images provide examples of some of the many coins that can be found. When you identify a coin you need to consider the following for both your description and the coin data form:

  • How was it made and what material? Coins are normally struck or hammered. IronAge potins are cast, as are forgeries from different periods.
  • How was it finished? Some Roman coins, such as radiates and nummi have traces of
    silver wash.
  • What is the obverse type? What is on the ‘head’ of the coin.
  • What is the reverse type? What is on the ‘tail’ of the coin.
  • The ruler, mint and reverse type are important information to be taken from a coin.
  • Where has the die been struck on the flan? The flan is the disc of metal; is the design
    placed centrally on it.
  • What does the legend say? The inscription can tell you the ruler and/or mint. Sometimes we know what the legend will say, even if it has been worn away or the flan was struck off centre. If this is the case then we enclose the inscription in square brackets [ ].
  • If any of the details are illegible, please say.

Iron Age

They are generally struck or hammered gold, silver or copper alloy. There are also potins which are cast copper alloy. They depict mythological scenes or have a ‘Celtic’ style. Please bring all of these to your FLO


The earliest Roman coins found in Britain are silver Republican denarii. From around 43 - 250 AD the main types are copper alloy as, sestertius and dupondius, silver denarius and gold aureus. A large amount are copper alloy. It is important that all Roman coins are reported, including the grots.

Early Medieval

The earliest issues were the gold tremisses and thrymsas of the 7th century. Silver was reintroduced in about 675 AD initially as small sceattas, and later the broader penny from about 760 AD. From this point gold coinage becomes extremely rare. Copper alloy stycas were issued in Northumbria in the 9th century.


Norman coins continue in the same style as the Late Anglo Saxon coins. After 1180 AD coinage became increasing standardised, firstly with the short cross penny from 1180 - 1247 AD, followed by the voided long cross penny from 1237 - 1279 AD and the long cross series from 1279 AD. The latter period saw greater diversity in denominations in silver, from the groat to the farthing, and a range of gold coins. Medieval coinage runs from William I to Henry VII.

Post Medieval 

The large diversity in denominations continued, and from James I small copper denominations were produced. The reign of Charles I is especially complex with varied mints. Although we only record objects up to 1710 AD, we will record anything of interest of a later date.

And remember, if nothing else provide a good image of both sides with a scale, and the diameter and weight Any coins that are modified can be classed as Treasure and as such must be shown to your

Example descriptions:

A silver, long cross penny of Edward I. Obverse has a crowned bust forward, EDWR R ANG [L] D[NS HYB]. Reverse has a long cross dividing the legend, with 3 pellets in each quarter. CIVITAS CANT[OR], Canterbury mint, 1301 - 1310 AD. Class 10 North 1991 Vol II, p 31.
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A gold quarter stater of Tincomarus (c. 20 BC—c. 10 AD) of the Atrebates tribe. Obverse COM F in a rectangular panel. Reverse TIN, horse right. Van Arsdell 390.
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A copper alloy nummus of Valens (364—78 AD). Reverse type SECVRITAS REI PVBLICAE Victory left. Mint of Arles, 364—367 AD. LRBC p.56, no.480. Reece period 19

Training sessions can be held for Iron Age and Roman coins, and Medieval and Post Medieval coins. If you wish to learn more just ask your FLO for details.