Somerset silver stashes lead to sequencing surprises and solid gold.
The Story So Far
Roman Chronology irregularities have been noted in the 3rd and 4th centuries.
The life expectancy data suggests the compilers of the mainstream Roman Chronology merged two completely different sets of data during the 3rd and 4th centuries.
Chronology errors would explain why there are replicated series of Roman coins in the 3rd century.
Misdated Roman coins were predicted to occur between 361 and 378 AD.
The reappearance of the ROMA mint mark in the 4th century suggests there are errors in the official Roman Chronology between 361 and 378 AD.
The story now restarts in the English shire of Somerset.
Somerset Silver Stashes
Somerset is noted [amongst of things] for its silver stashes.
The Shapwick Hoard is a hoard of 9,262 Roman coins found at Shapwick, Somerset, England in September 1998.
The coins dated from as early as 31–30 BC up until 224 AD.
The hoard also notably contained two rare coins which had not been discovered in Britain before, and the largest number of silver denarii ever found in Britain.
Septimius Severus, also known as Severus, was Roman emperor from 193 to 211. He was born in Leptis Magna in the Roman province of Africa.
Somerset is noted for its 4th century silver stashes.
Hoards of Late Silver Coins
Numerous hoards of Roman coins have been discovered in Somerset.
Most of these require no special notice and can be treated sufficiently in the index.
But one remarkable feature is provided by an unusually large number of hoards of late silver coins, minted in the fourth century and buried or lost at dates near or even after its close.
The reason for the occurrence of such hoards in the remote west is not clear.
They are not in general common in England.
Only one has been found in Worcestershire, one in Berkshire, none in the adjacent counties of Devon and Cornwall, and none in Warwickshire or Northamptonshire or Derbyshire, two in Hampshire (with three copper hoards of the same date) and two in Norfolk.
Their distribution and metal, and, in some cases at least, their date forbid us to connect them with the march of Magnus Maximus on Rome in 387 or with the ‘withdrawal of the legions’ in 406.
They seem to point rather to some special fortune or misfortune of Somerset about the beginning of the fifth century.
Such might be either attacks of Irish pirates or, at a later date, the retreat of the Romanized Britons from eastern Britain before the Saxons.
But of the first we know so little that we can hardly use it safely, and the second appears to have come too late to explain coin hoards, in which many of the coins were certainly found in excellent preservation.
Victoria County History of Somerset: Romano-British Remains
Francis Haverfield – 1906
Francis John Haverfield, FBA (1860-1919) was an English ancient historian, archaeologist, and academic. From 1907 to 1919 he held the Camden Professorship of Ancient History at the University of Oxford.
Haverfield was the first to undertake a scientific study of Roman Britain and is considered by some to be the first theorist to tackle the issue of the Romanization of the Roman Empire.
Some consider him the innovator of the discipline of Romano-British archaeology.
And more generally:
Britain is noted for it’s unusual use of silver coins after 360 AD.
It is, however, proper to add that while these hoards of late silver seem commoner in Somerset than in most parts of Britain, they are correspondingly commoner in Britain than elsewhere in the Empire.
M. Blanchet, for instance, in his Tresors de monnaies romaines en Gaule, has no clear case to record of such a hoard in Gaul.
Mommsen has observed ‘ that, after about A.D. 360, silver was hardly used in the Empire for commerce, except in Britain.
But he offers no explanation of the fact, and perhaps on our present imperfect statistics, it may be wise not to attempt one.
The Coleraine hoard of 1506 silver coins (dating from a.d. 337-410 circa), silver ingots and other fragments may, of course, be connected with Irish pirates.
But it is obviously due in the first instance to the use of silver coin in Britain, and must ultimately be explained by that fact.
Victoria County History of Somerset: Romano-British Remains
Francis Haverfield – 1906
The siliqua (plural siliquae) is the modern name given (without any ancient evidence to confirm the designation) to small, thin, Roman silver coins produced in the 4th century A.D. and later.
When the coins were in circulation, the Latin word siliqua was a unit of weight defined by one late Roman writer as one twenty-fourth of the weight of a Roman solidus.
The term siliqua comes from the siliqua graeca, the seed of the carob tree, which in the Roman weight system is equivalent to 1/6 of a scruple (1/1728 of a Roman pound or about 0.19 grams).
The term has been applied in modern times to various silver coins on the premise that the coins were valued at 1/24 of the gold solidus (which weighed 1/72 of a Roman pound) and therefore represented a siliqua of gold in value.
Since gold was worth about 14 times as much as silver in ancient Rome, such a silver coin would have a theoretical weight of 2.7 grams.
There is little historical evidence to support this premise.
This has not prevented the term from being applied today to silver coins issued by Constantine, which initially weighed 3.4 grams, or the later silver coin of Constantius II, which weighed about 2.2 grams and 18 mm, and is sometimes called a “light” or “reduced” siliqua to differentiate it.
The term is one of convenience, as no name for these coins is indicated by contemporary sources.
Thin silver coins as late as the 7th century which weigh about 2 to 3 grams are known as siliquae by numismatic convention.
The majority of examples suffer striking cracks (testimony to their fast production) or extensive clipping (removing silver from the edge of the coin), and thus to find both an untouched and undamaged example is fairly uncommon.
The Bristol-Mendip Hoard
The Bristol-Mendip hoard includes 2,005 silver siliquae.
Trebonianus Gallus, also known as Gallus, was Roman Emperor from June 251 to August 253, in a joint rule with his son Volusianus.
Note The pictured medallion is not from the Bristol-Mendip hoard.
The silver siliquae span the suspect period between 361 and 378 AD.
A peculiarity of the hoard is the large number of Julian [361-3 AD] coins.
Julian, sometimes Julian II, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363, as well as a notable philosopher and author in Greek.
Note The pictured siliqua is not from the Bristol-Mendip hoard.
The problem is that Julian occurs in the middle of the coin chronology.
Whereas, all things being equal:
The most numerous coins should be the latest dated because :-
a) Old coins are lost and clipped-away over time
b) Old coins are profitably recycled to make smaller and less pure new coins.
In other words:
The low-to-high gradient is very unnatural.
However, if the coin chronology is split and flipped [aka reversed] so that the Julian coins become the latest dated coins then [surprisingly enough]:
i) The coin chronology adopts a more natural high-to-low gradient
ii) Britain no longer [unusually] uses silver coins after 360 AD
iii) The suspect period 361-378 AD is cleared of misdated coins.
The resequencing implies Constantius II [unchanged yellow dot] is misdated.
Constantius II was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361.
His reign saw constant warfare on the borders against the Sasanian Empire and Germanic peoples, while internally the Roman Empire went through repeated civil wars and usurpations.
Note The pictured siliqua is not from the Bristol-Mendip hoard.
Exactly the same issue is resolved by flipping the Holway Hoard chronology.
Unfortunately, none of this makes the realigned coin chronology correct.
All that can can be said for certain:
○ Roman Chronology has been erroneously extended from Julian [361-363] to Arcadius [395-408] by misdating [and reverse sequencing] coins from another period.
○ This erroneous extension means Constantius II [337-361] is also misdated.
Where these coins really belong in time is anyone’s guess given the clusterfuck status of Roman Chronology.
But is seems likely Somerset silver coins align [at some point/s] with the Charterhouse silver mining narrative that dates back to “at least AD 49”.
Charterhouse, also known as Charterhouse-on-Mendip, is a hamlet … in the English county of Somerset.
The name is believed to come from the Carthusian order of Chartreuse in France, which was established in Witham (near Frome) in 1181 and formed a cell at Charterhouse in 1283 with a grant to mine lead ore.
The lead and silver mines at Charterhouse, were first operated on a large scale by the Romans, from at least AD 49.
There was also some kind of ‘fortlet’ here in the 1st century, and an amphitheatre.
The same extend and pretend technique was used between 253 and 293 AD.
The Frome Hoard is a hoard of 52,503 Roman coins found in April 2010 by metal detectorist Dave Crisp near Frome in Somerset, England.
The coins were contained in a ceramic pot 45 cm (18 in) in diameter, and date from AD 253 to 305.
Most of the coins are made from debased silver or bronze.
The hoard is one of the largest ever found in Britain, and is also important as it contains the largest group ever found of coins issued during the reign of Carausius, who ruled Britain independently from 286 to 293 and was the first Roman Emperor to strike coins in Britain.
Of the 52,503 coins found, 44,245 have been identified, and the remainder are classified provisionally as “illegible” until cleaning and conservation has been completed.
Of the identifiable coins, 14,788 were minted under the central Roman Empire, 28,377 were minted under the breakaway Gallic Empire, and 766 were minted under the Britannic Empire of Carausius… About 5% of the coins identified so far are from the period of Carausius, who ruled Britain from 286 to 293, and the hoard includes five silver denarii issued by Carausius, which were the only type of silver coin to be struck anywhere in the Roman Empire at that time.
The Carausian Revolt (AD 286–296) was an episode in Roman history, during which a Roman naval commander, Carausius, declared himself emperor over Britain and northern Gaul.
Overall, the predominantly bronze Frome hoard is curiously wedged between two distinctly different silver epochs defined by the Shapwick and Bristol-Mendip hoards.
Wikipedia is very tight-lipped about the Farmborough Hoard of gold staters.
Farmborough is a small village and civil parish, 6 miles (9.7 km) south west of Bath in Somerset, England. … The Farmborough Hoard of Iron Age coins was found in the village in 1984 and is now in the British Museum.
The stater was an ancient coin used in various regions of Greece.
The term is also used for similar coins, imitating Greek staters, minted elsewhere in ancient Europe.
The stater, as a Greek silver currency, first as ingots, and later as coins, circulated from the 8th century BC to AD 50.
There also existed a “gold stater“, but it was only minted in some places, and was mainly an accounting unit worth 20–28 drachmae depending on place and time.
Celtic tribes brought the concept to Western and Central Europe after obtaining it while serving as mercenaries in north Greece.
British Gold staters generally weighed between 4.5 and 6.5 grams (0.16–0.23 oz).
Wikipedia seems reluctant to link these gold staters with the Dobunni Celts.
The Dobunni were one of the Iron Age tribes living in the British Isles prior to the Roman invasion of Britain.
The tribe lived in the part of southwestern Britain that today broadly coincides with the English counties of Bristol, Gloucestershire and the north of Somerset, although at times their territory may have extended into parts of what are now Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire.
Their capital acquired the Roman name of Corinium Dobunnorum, which is today known as Cirencester.
Even though the Dobunni were incorporated into the Roman Empire in AD 43, their territory was probably not formed into Roman political units until AD 96-98.
The tribal territory was divided into a civitas centred on Cirencester, and the Colonia at Gloucester. The Colonia was established during the reign of the emperor Nerva (AD 96-98).
A repeated theme of coins ascribed to the Dobunni is a branched emblem appearing on the obverse.
The symbol’s significance and origins are unclear although corn, ferns and a derivative of the wreath on the British Q stater have all been suggested.
The raised beaches in Hampshire [at about 60 metres above sea level] suggest Celtic groups settled their own isolated island of high ground.
Somerset is also famous for it’s Roman mosaic of Aeneas and Dido.
The Low Ham Roman Villa was a Roman courtyard villa located near Low Ham in the civil parish of High Ham in the English county of Somerset. It is best known for the extraordinary figured mosaic depicting the story of Aeneas and Dido.
The villa appears to have been constructed around AD 340 on a gentle slope facing north-east, only about a mile from other villas at High Ham and Pitney.
The large 14 foot (4.3m) square mosaic from the floor of the frigidarium depicts the story of Aeneas and Dido, as told in the 1st century BC by the Roman poet, Virgil. Like the villa, it dates to the mid-4th century.
The Low Ham mosaic is unique in Roman Britain in providing a narrative story in five panels.
First is a scene of Aeneas sailing to Carthage, with Achates lifting from a ship the crown described as a gift to Dido in Aeneid Book I.
The next shows Aeneas meeting Dido, with his son Ascanius and his mother Venus.
There follow scenes of the couple out hunting, of the couple embracing, and either of Venus, or else of Dido left alone after Aeneas’ departure.
It is the earliest piece of narrative art in the country.
It was lifted in 1953 and is now on display in the Museum of Somerset.
It’s intriguing to note Aeneas [above] is wearing a Persian Phrygian cap.
Byzantine art usually depicts the Magi in Persian clothing which includes breeches, capes, and Phrygian caps.
But most of all:
It’s interesting to note that many names in the Dido legend are Punic.
Dido was, according to ancient Greek and Roman sources, the founder and first queen of Carthage.
She is primarily known from the account given by the Roman poet Virgil in his epic Aeneid.
Many names in the legend of Dido are of Punic origin, which suggests that the first Greek authors who mention this story have taken up Phoenician accounts.
This understanding of the chronology related to Dido and her company resulted in the following dates for Dido and her immediate relations, as derived from F. M. Cross and Wm. H. Barnes:
○ 839 BC: Dido was born in Tyre [dubious – discuss]
○ 814 BC: Dido founds Carthage on mainland
○ 759 BC: Dido died in Carthage [dubious – discuss]
In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite (Venus).
Therefore, it’s possible a Carthaginian Caesar invaded Britain.
Caesar was very “un-Roman”.
Caesar started striking golden coins “more often”.
Caesar was so “un-Roman” even his coins looked positively Carthaginian.
In Gaul his military mint produced coins that looked distinctly Carthaginian.
In Italy his military mint produced coins that looked absolutely, positively Carthaginian.
In the course of his Gallic Wars,
Julius Caesar invaded Britain twice: in 55 and 54 BC.
And it’s possible a Carthaginian Caesar recycled Somerset silver and gold.
If you bid me plunder the gods and fire their temples, the furnace of the military mint shall melt down the statues of the deities…
Lucan – The Civil War – Book I
Translation: James D Duff – Trinity College – Cambridge – 1928