Iron Age and Roman coins discovered in Derbyshire cave

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07 July 2014
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imports_CCGB_coins_43667.jpg Iron Age and Roman coins discovered in Derbyshire cave
A hoard of Late Iron Age and Roman coins has been discovered in a cave at Dovedale in Derbyshire; the first time coins of two such origins are believed to have been found buried together. ...
A hoard of Late Iron Age and Roman coins has been discovered in a cave at Dovedale in Derbyshire; the first time coins of two such origins have been found buried together.

The initial discovery of four coins was made by a member of the public, which led the National Trust to carry out a full excavation of the site, known as Reynard's Kitchen Cave.

The National Trust worked with the University of Leicester Archaeology Service and, for the first time, the Defence Archaeology Group’s Operation Nightingale which provides recuperation through field archaeology for service personnel injured in the conflict in Afghanistan and other areas of operations.

National Trust archaeologist Rachael Hall spoke of the importance of the coins: 'In total we found 26 coins, including three Roman coins which pre-date the invasion of Britain in AD 43.

'Twenty other gold and silver coins are Late Iron Age and attributed to the Corieltavi tribe. The tribe is more usually associated with occupying areas further east during the Late Iron Age, where the tribal centres are thought to be Leicester, Sleaford and Lincoln. So, it is interesting that this find is where it is in Derbyshire. Could this area have been a previously unknown power base of the Corieltavi tribe?

'Coins hoards of this era in Britain have been found in fields and other locations but, as far as we know, not in a cave which raises some interesting questions.'

'The coins would suggest a serious amount of wealth "power" of the individual who owned them. Coins were used more as a symbol of power and status during the Late Iron Age, rather than for buying and selling staple foods and supplies. Was an individual simply hiding his "best stuff" for safe keeping? 

'Or, perhaps speculating, in the hope that the value would increase in the future, like a modern-day ISA?

'The situation of the cave can’t be ignored either. Could it have been a sacred place to the Late Iron Age peoples that was taboo to enter in everyday life, making it a safe place that would ensure that person’s valuables were protected?'

The coins have been cleaned by conservation specialists at the British Museum and University College London and will go on permanent display at Buxton Museum later this year.


(Excavation image copyright National Trust/R Hall; coins copyright Richard Davenport Photography)

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