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Expertise in Iron Age Numismatics

For a long time Iron Age coin studies were seen as a poor relation to other branches of numismatics and seldom received much attention. The scale of the production of the coins together with the huge variety of styles and types made them a highly complex area of study. The main problem being the virtual lack of a solid historical framework in which the coins can be put along with uncertainties as to who produced many of the issues, when or indeed why.


However, since the early pioneering work of Sir John Evans in the 19th Century, through the groundbreaking work of Derek Allen and others, our knowledge and understanding has gradually increased. While recent decades have seen great advances in the study of Iron Age coinages partly through the publication of three major catalogues. The classifications provided by these catalogues, together with the increasing number of finds becoming available through the Portable Antiquities Scheme, have led to Iron Age numismatics becoming a vibrant area of research. Such studies cover a wide variety of aspects from typological and metallurgical analysis looking at development and date, to distribution and contextual studies addressing questions relating to issuing authority and use. These studies as well as partially answering some questions often raise others and this is one reason why Iron Age coin studies is so interesting.


At the hub of Iron Age coin studies is the Celtic Coin Index (CCI) created in 1959 by Derek Allen and Sheppard Frere. This aimed to make a record of all Iron Age coins found in Britain and over the years has produced a resource consisting of over 41,000 coin records. Run for many years by Oxford University, it now forms part of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.


A number of museums in the UK have significant collections of coins. These include the British Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Hunterian Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, Colchester and Ipswich Museums and Norwich Castle Museum.


Dr Mark Curteis (Chelmsford Museum)

gallo belgic

Gallo-Belgic gold stater (mid-2nd century BC). Found at Fenny Stratford, Bucks.

© Trustees of the British Museum

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