Iron Age coins provide the first written evidence from Britain and mark the end of its ‘prehistory’. These coins, often referred to as
‘Celtic’ coins, are mainly found in southern and eastern England. Because of the lack of historical information about Iron Age Britain, we must depend on the archaeological record to inform us, therefore we cannot easily identify mints, minters, tribes, or rulers, and ‘begin’ and ‘end’ dates are mainly indicative. We have included information about each field below to give context for the data
All definitions are accessible on Nomisma’s website.
Typologies are ever-changing, and we welcome your contributions. If you spot any errors in these data, believe you have identified a new
type, or would like to add information (e.g. a reference), please contact us through the Feedback form.
Unfortunately, there is no permanent member of staff in charge of this email account, so please be patient if it takes us time to
respond to your message.
- Type Number
- There are 999 ABC types, which are numbered from ABC 1 to ABC 3008. They are numbered sequentially with two unused numbers
between each defined type, so that new types can be added using unused numbers. From the time of publication in 2010, some new
types have been identified, which will soon be included here. The type numbers found here are the same as in the printed ABC,
but please be aware that the data have been edited from the original published version (e.g. descriptions, spellings).
- Object Type
- Refers to the object type referenced by the typology, e.g., 'coin'.
- Date Range
- The date ranges of these coin types are based on data that are variably reliable. Some date ranges originally published in ABC have been edited to reflect new data. More information about these dates can be found here.
- The denominations of the coins both made in and imported to Britain. The denominations are essentially our constructs, as we do not know what they were called in the Iron Age. New denomination IDs have been made for the Iron Age coinage in Nomisma, which are used here.
- This refers to the technique used to create the coin type, mainly to distinguish between those that were struck (majority) and
those that were cast.
- The material of the coins is not qualified. It includes gold, silver and bronze, but does not include more details about the
material composition (e.g. ‘debased’), which should be included in individual specimen records.
- The regional delineations are very fuzzy. The geographical names are not based on current geographical/political boundaries, but
on the distribution of Iron Age coins. For example, ‘South Western’ does not refer to the southwest counties of England but to
the southwest coin producing area of Britain. For the purposes of linked data, we have had to use the Roman term ‘Britannia’,
but this is not an assertion that we believe Britain was called this during the pre-Roman Iron Age.
- The majority of references to ‘tribes’ in Britain come from written sources outside of Britain, which were sometimes written
much later than the period of British coin production and use. Whether or not these names can be projected onto the past is
highly debateable. For example, we use ‘Victis’ for the Isle of Wight, which is a Roman name for the island, but we do not use
Vectuarii, which is a tribe first mentioned in Bede in AD 723. Overall, we use the term ‘tribe’ very loosely here, mainly for
the purpose of connecting datasets and not with an intention to define bounded groups that cannot be identified
archaeologically. This approach differs from the ABC, which sees the issuing authority as a ruler, not a tribe. Some spellings
have also been altered from the ABC, e.g. Cantiaci instead of Cantii and Regini instead of Regni.
- There are only a handful of known individuals known from Iron Age Britain as defined by written sources (e.g. Adminius,
Caratacus, Commius, Cunobelin, Dubnovellaunos, Tincomarus, Verica). All other individuals are hypothetical. The names included
in this field are based on inscriptions (see Legend) – some undoubtedly refer to ‘rulers’, but most are unknown to us. They
could refer to, for example, moneyers, minters, important people, traders.
- We use this field for inscriptions. The majority of text on British Iron Age coins does not follow the contour of the coin and
the inscriptions are often incomplete.
- Obv./Rev. Type
- The published descriptions of the types have been edited in this version. Due to the often-enigmatic quality of the imagery on
Iron Age coins, we have opted to leave motif definitions open for debate.
- Type Series
- The typological reference work from which the coin type is derived. In this case, Ancient British Coins as expressed as a
- These include the original references listed for the type from the ABC publication; some further references have been
- Related type
- A number of typologies of British Iron Age coins exist, which you can use to search this site (results are based on the
concordance published in ABC). These include: Van Arsdell’s
Celtic Coinage of Britain
British Iron Age Coins in the British Museum
(1996) and Spink’s
Coins of England & the United Kingdom
The IACB website supports the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). The PAS seeks to transform knowledge and understanding of the
archaeology and history of England and Wales through the recording of archaeological finds discovered by the public. The PAS
database holds records of archaeological finds discovered by members of the public in England and Wales. Finders of Iron Age coins
are strongly encouraged to record their discoveries with the scheme, which is administered by the British Museum and National Museum
Wales: https://finds.org.uk/. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, all finders of groups of
coins from the same finds, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Separate
legislation applies in other parts of the British Isles. For further information, see https://finds.org.uk/treasure.
Last updated: February 2021