Login/Register |My Account
My Basket (0 items)basket_icon
Menu

The Vine Leaf Hoard (AKA The Chawton Hoard)

Here at Silbury Coins we are very pleased to be able to offer for sale a selection of gold staters from the Vine leaf hoard, an important treasure find unearthed by metal detectorists whilst searching in Hampshire. Each coin sold will be accompanied with a booklet providing a detailed history behind the coins and find itself. The opportunity to acquire coins from such an important find is rarely given to private collectors with most coin hoards being retained by museums.

DETAILS OF THE HOARD

Found by metal detectorists during spring 2012 on farmland in Chawton, Hampshire the hoard consists of 105 gold staters in total, 98 of Verica, 6 of Epaticcus and 1 of Cunobelin. The coins were duly recorded through the portable antiquities scheme and taken to the British museum for further study. They were declared treasure at an inquest and subsequently disclaimed after local museums couldn’t secure funding and the British museum already has similar finds, namely the Alresford hoard (c1880) and the Alton Hoard (1996). The date of deposition is highly likely to have coincided with Verica leaving Britain in 42AD however it could have been a few years earlier.

BACKGROUND

Verica, ruler of the Atrebates tribe in southern England around 10-40AD is rather a well-known name within the Iron Age period, here we look in detail at a king who was responsible for great change in Britain during the 1st century AD.

Third son of Commius, Verica is thought to have begun his life as a ruler of the Atrebates sometime around 10AD, being recognised as REX (king) by Rome quite a few years later (around 20AD). This was shown on his coins and made Verica a very powerful ruler, combined with the fact that he got on well with neighbouring king Cunobelin he quickly managed to expand his territories to cover much of England south of the Thames while Cunobelin did the same to the north (Fig. 1-2). Callevum (modern day Silchester) is believed to have been the tribal capital although adding this recent find to the existing record shows 4 major coin hoard finds within 11 miles of Alton, perhaps Verica’s capital was further south than previously thought, there certainly seems to be a concentration of wealth in this area.

Throughout history many battles were fought and tribes defeated with one objective in mind, to expand The Roman Empire. In around 58BC Northern Gaul became part of the empire and the next advance to the north was to be Britiannia. After a few unsuccessful attempts and 100 years or so surely it was time for the Romans to cross the channel. However Britian was to be left alone a while longer for one reason, King Verica ruling south of the Thames. Verica was a well-known ally of Rome therefore the mighty Roman armies were kept from Britain’s shores until sometime during the autumn of 42AD when he was expelled from his tribal territories by Epaticcus and Cunobelin following years of unrest (Fig. 3). Facing certain death if caught he fled to Rome prompting the Claudian invasion in 43AD. ‘Aulus Plautius, a senator of great renown, made a campaign against Britain; for a certain Bericus, who had been driven out of the island as a result of an uprising, had persuaded Claudius to send a force thither.’ (DIO CASSIUS LX, 19) Bericus is thought to have been Verica although not proven. This was to be the third Roman invasion, previously Julius Caesar had made two unsuccessful attempts (55BC & 54BC). Roman Politician and General Aulus Plautius led an army consisting of 4 legions and 20,000 auxiliary troops, legion II commanded by Vespasian who later became emperor in 69AD from Northern Gaul across the channel to the shores of Britiannia.

 

Furthering the cooperation between Verica and Claudius there’s even a suggestion that the Roman army landed on the south coast rather than the usual point in the south east as deposed King Verica was amongst them and this the land that he knew well.

Now imagine you were a wealthy person living in the Atrebatic territory sometime around 42AD and received word that Verica, your strong king for the past 30 years had left for Rome as he deemed southern Britain unsafe to inhabit any longer. At this point you’d be terrified of what the future may hold and would consider hiding your valuables and possibly following. While burying your hard earned wealth you’d feel a surge of anger when you spotted that the very people responsible for driving your king from his seat were shown on some of the coins in your hands. You’d remember the good times when both the Catuvellauni and Atrebates got on well and then you’d quickly backfill the hole as it was time to leave. I believe that considering the history of the coins we see and handle today contributes to the overall great pleasure of collecting them.



CLOSE UP LOOK AT THE COINS

The hoard contains 105 coins of three separate rulers, as shown in the first picture above. As you can see the majority are struck under Verica, with several types present as shown below. The gold coins of Epaticcus are extremely rare with only 13 examples recorded before this find.

Something especially clear whilst studying these coins is the importance of family with tributes paid on all staters of Verica. In abbreviated form ‘Commius Filius’ (Son of Commius) is boldly shown on each coin in the series, with Epaticcus ‘Tasciovanus Filius’ is abbreviated to TAS CIF either side of the famous Catuvellauni corn ear.

As you would expect there is a wide range of quality, remembering the crude method of manufacture this is no surprise. One interesting point worth mentioning is that a number of recorded vine leaf staters (some from this group) show incuse reverse die detail on the obverse as a result of clashed dies (Fig. 4).

 

There could be a number of reasons for this, moneyers minting coins at a speed where quality control was difficult to administer, a rather sloppy tradesman or a particularly awkward pair of dies. Look carefully at the images opposite.

Another interesting point for discussion is the box shapes shown below the horse on the vine leaf types (Fig. 5), sometimes filled with cross hatch. Could this be the sides to a defensive ditch surrounding a hill fort with the coin showing Verica mounted on his favourite steed boldly leaping over while actively expanding his territory – some of the coins certainly show the horse’s legs well spread as if in a leaping motion.

It is clear to anyone who knows the iron age series well that there is much Roman influence in the coinage of Verica and his contemporaries. Compare for example a Dobunni stater (Fig. 6) and you will see a much cruder design.

There are several theories as to why the style of the Celtic coins became much more lifelike – Roman influenced die cutters perhaps or maybe the rulers requested that their coinage looked more Roman as a symbol of power.



SUMMARY

In conclusion, I think you will agree that this is a very significant find, to a scale of which is seldom offered to the private market and something which it will be a pleasure to be a part of, we certainly feel so. We expect the coins to sell very quickly so recommend that you visit our website to view what is still available to purchase. If you would rather talk to someone over the phone or by email, contact us today and we’d be happy to run through what is available. A coin hoard being released to the private market is a very rare event, especially one dating from the Iron Age. With only very few similar groups made available before now this may well be a one off opportunity to own part of a published Iron Age gold coin hoard found in Britain.