Iron Age gold coin hoard

We hold a fantastic collection of Iron Age coins at our museum, from several hoards discovered across East Yorkshire.

We have 21 gold Staters, discovered near Beverley, that date from the late first century BC. The original hoard totalled more than one hundred coins. Some of those coins were acquired by the British Museum and the East Riding of Yorkshire Museums Service. We also hold 28 gold Staters from a hoard buried near Driffield in about 40 AD.

Iron age coins

Early coins in Britain

Today we take coins for granted, but 2000 years ago, they were almost unknown in Britain. The Parisi – the people who lived in East Yorkshire during the Iron Age – didn't make their own coins. Instead, they used coins made by the Corieltauvi, a federation (or group) of tribes from south of the Humber. 

During the Iron Age, the Corieltauvi (formerly "Coritani") territory centred on modern Lincolnshire. From there it extended into Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Yorkshire. They began making gold and silver coins in about 50 BC. 

Making a mint

We know of at least three Corieltauvi "mints" or centres of coin production. This suggests the federation could have been made up of at least three tribes. They made the coins by striking a blank disc of metal between a pair of dies. More than 3000 fragments of moulds for casting coin blanks have been found at Old Sleaford, Lincolnshire. These early coins were imitations of so-called "Gallo-Belgic" coins. These were used on the Continent, in what we now call France and Belgium. Gallo-Belgic coins in turn copied the coins of the Ancient Greeks. 
On most of the Corieltauvi gold coins, known as "Staters", a wreath appears on one side and a stylised horse on the other. In the early first century AD, some staters also carried the names of the tribal chiefs who issued them. The Latin inscription on ancient British coinage may reflect increased contact between the Celtic and Roman worlds before the Conquest. 

Princely gifts

Celtic gold and silver coins weren't used to buy goods like we use coins today. Instead, they were probably given by tribal leaders and the upper echelons of society as gifts to other leaders or as a reward for services.