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John Conduitt

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My latest Celtic coin is a bronze stater. Ordinarily, a Celtic stater is gold. Originally, it was a Greek silver denomination, but the Iron Age Britons (like other Celts) copied the staters of Philip II of Macedonia, which are gold.

The Durotriges ('fort dwellers') were different. They inhabited an area to the west of the great powerhouses of the time, in what is now Dorset and Somerset, with a possible settlement on the Isle of Wight. They farmed land around hill fort strongholds, although most of those had fallen into disuse by 100BC. Their territory is known from coin findspots, but they don't seem to have used coins for trade with one another. Their main trade was across the Channel.

Their earliest coinage was indeed gold like everyone else's, and from 100-60BC the Durotriges economy grew rapidly, fed by overseas trade. But their development stalled under economic pressure from their big neighbour, the Atrebates, and declined after the Gallic Wars (60-50BC). Their coins were soon debased until they were producing the familiar silver staters.

Cranbourne Chase Stater, 50-10BCimage.png.58756db5e1c4de0c5ef2cd44f50e9575.pngDurotriges tribe, Dorset. Silver, 19mm, 4.78g. Crude head of Apollo with wreath, cloak and crescents. Disjointed horse left with rectangular head, body of crescents, four vertical legs, three lines for tail; pellet below; twelve pellets above; wheel of biga behind (ABC 2157; VA 1235-1; M 317; S 366). From the Winterborne Stickland (Dorset) Hoard 2013 of 75 staters, Portable Antiquities Scheme: WILT-DF1BB7 (this coin is image 29).

The Durotriges economy continued its decline and their coins continued to shed precious metals. Even before the Romans arrived, the silver dried up too and they were striking staters in bronze. The design - a degraded Apollo on the obverse and a degraded horse on the reverse - didn't change, other than to get more abstract. Not once did a king demand to have his name immortalised on them. It's thought perhaps this was because they were a tribal confederation.

Hod Hill Stater, 40-20BCimage.png.e10a6788c495575a9bb74d1142945379.pngDurotriges tribe, Dorset. Bronze, 16mm, 2.02g. Crude head of Apollo with wreath, cloak and crescents. Disjoined horse left with rectangular head, body of crescents, vertical legs, pellets above (ABC 2175; VA 1290; S 371). Found Salisbury, Wiltshire.

The Durotriges continued striking bronze coins of ever decreasing quality until after the Roman invasion. It was once thought they strongly resisted the invasion, but this was probably not the case. Being in such a weak position, perhaps they welcomed them. Finally, they were Romanised and disappeared altogether.

Their misfortune is good luck for coin collectors. Silver and bronze is a lot more affordable than gold.

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Durotrigian (?) staters are easy to come by in good condition and relatively cheap. I owned a few, and sold most of them. Here is the one I kept:


It's difficult to photograph, and better ('sharper') in hand. 

Same for this iconic type, which comes from the Mossop collection:


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Nice coins. Hopefully I'll get a Duro Boat type eventually. They're definitely on the affordable side of the spectrum, even in good condition (probably because they don't have much precious metal in them).

1 hour ago, Roerbakmix said:

Durotrigian (?) staters

I think the (?) needs to be placed after almost everything in a Celtic post 😁 At least we know they definitely existed (their name is inscribed on Hadrian's Wall). The coins have a rather distinctive character (being debased, uninscribed and unchanging) that distinguishes them. But it's quite possible they weren't one cohesive tribe and didn't even call themselves the Durotriges.

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