01 June 2023
A previously unknown type of a Celtic silver coin, known as ‘Berkshire Boars’, was recently found in Wiltshire
Minted in the middle of the first-century BC, it is believed to have belonged to a small tribe in Berkshire, whose ancient British name is lost and whose tribal centre may have been at or near Dorchester-on-Thames. On the obverse side of the coin, there are two back-to-back boars, with what looks like a duck on either side of them. Another boar, apparently mounted on a military standard, appears on the reverse. All three boars are shown with deliberately enlarged dorsal bristles. This is common on Celtic coins, where it is believed they may be war motifs.
Celtic coin specialist Elizabeth Cottam believes the newly found coin may have been struck by a rich chieftain of the Ambiani, a Gallo-Belgic tribe from the River Somme in northern France, who fled to Britain during Caesar’s Gallic Wars. Dr John Sills, author of Gaulish and Early British Gold Coinage (Spink, 2003), who reinforces this view, said: ‘I think this may be a British type engraved by a Belgic die cutter.’
The new coin, previously unrecorded by the Celtic Coin Index (CCI) at the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford, was discovered during a metal detecting rally held at Ogbourne St George, Wiltshire, on 4 February 2023 by Lee Fox, a 55-year-old electrician from Southampton. It is scheduled to be auctioned in Norwich on 14 May by Chris Rudd and is expected to fetch £3,000 or more.