ImageI guess everyone dreams about it….no matter whether you are young or old….finding buried treasure….

Whilst there is an element to metal detecting which is exactly this, as you may have gathered, it’s not (just) about that with me and my searches.  I have been trying to find out about the history of my village…who lived here, where and when.

On a Roman site I have permission on I have recovered nearly 50 copper alloy coins, some nice examples…mostly common “grots” as they are known. But a couple of weeks ago I found the most amazing coin. As you can tell from the picture, its gold, and the decoration is very stylised, depicting the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. It would have been minted somewhere in Spain or perhaps southern France, by the Visigothic people who were trying to emulate the Western Roman style of imperial portraiture.

The Visigothic coinage was the basis of the economical system of the Visigoths in Gaul and Hispania, developed during the early Middle Ages (from the 5th to the beginning of the 8th century).

The coin I found is a  tremissis, only minted in gold.

The first coins were minted in Gaul, where Visigoths settled at the beginning of 5th century and then later in the 6th century in the old Roman Hispania province , where the peoples had moved the center of the Visigoth kingdom to after the Battle of Vouillé (507).

The first coins, usually called pseudo-imperial, imitated those circulating in the western part of the Roman Empire and, later, those issued in the eastern part, reproducing the names of Roman emperors. After the year 580, the Visigoths began to strike entirely independent coins, named after the Visigoth kings. The issue of coins ended in the second decade of the 8th century, because of the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, which ended the Visigoth kingdom.

My coin has been dated by the Fitz William Museum to 527-535 AD (so right in the early Saxon period of British History). It would have been worth somewhere between £200-£300 at the time and would have been a very significant loss. Typically these coins would have been used to buy land, large amounts of animals or perhaps been part of a dowry payment. Suffice it to say, who ever lost this would have been upset!

On the reverse is a stylised version of Victory, with the strange “step ladder” behind the figure a representation of a flowing cloak. Again, the Visigoths were imitating Roman Imperial coinage, but as time went on their art became more unique and individual, the representations more obtuse.

ImageWhat is equally apparent is that the Visigothic moneyer wanted to add credence to his coinage still further by remembering to add the Roman Mint Mark of Constantinople to his coin:  CONO[B].

So there you have it…my first evidence of Saxon peoples in Great Eversden – an incredibly beautiful object – a glimpse into a a distinct political and social epoch in world history and yes….a little bit of treasure



4 thoughts on “Visigoths

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  1. Hi Dshelley – a wonderful site – thank you. I am the Administrator of the Society of Saint Botolph. We issue a monthly email newsletter which is gradually working its way through the 70 or so Botolph Churches and also focussing on various aspects of Saint Botolph’s life. I would be pleased to put you on our email list if you would send me your email address. With the interest that the newsletter is generating, one of our readers has told me about St. Botolph’s Rectory Farm, close to the church of St. Mary at Great Eversden. Having read your blog I see that the area has ancient origins and it seems likely to me that the church was rededicated from St Botolph to St Mary when it was rebuilt in C13. I would be grateful for your opinion and any information you might have. With kind regards, Dr Denis Pepper.

  2. It would be useful to know which farm it is, and what the source for the St Botolph name is, in order to be able to come to a proper conclusion on this.

  3. Hi , as a fellow detectorist , i must applaude your blog and the finds, very nicely presented. I live in Sandy in Bedfordshire, if you are ever in the area or want a walking partner for your permission I would be happy to attend. I belong to the DUTP club and we are on digs most weekends.

    Regards Colin

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