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The Winterbourne Stickland Hoard

All Winterboune Stickland coin are now sold - BREAKING NEWS - we have bought another exciting hoard which is currently going through conservation and will be for sale soon! Silbury Coins is very excited to have been chosen to handle another Iron Age coin hoard, this time being some 75 Cranbourne Chase staters of the Durotriges tribe.

The find is to be known as ‘The Winterbourne Stickland Hoard’ after the locality to where it was found in the county of Dorset, South West England, close to Maiden Castle, which was thought to be the capital of the Durotriges. Seldom do we see a coin hoard disclaimed, even rarer one from the Iron Age. This presents a fantastic opportunity to own a coin from a disclaimed Iron Age Hoard, with only 75 available we expect them to sell quickly. Each coin sold will be accompanied with a booklet containing all the information about the coins and find itself, if you'd like a copy of this please let us know. 



FINDING THE WINTERBOURNE STICKLAND HOARD

Discovered in summer 2013 by two avid metal detectorists, the finding of the Winterbourne Stickland hoard is an exciting event and one which most metal detectorist’s dream of, only a lucky few are involved in such an event.

On a late summers day in Dorset the ground was being scanned by an ever hopeful metal detectorist, the pasture field in question had produced Roman coins before but wasn’t favourable as there’d only been a few and digging was very hard on a flint and chalk hill top. It all started with one faint signal, at a depth of 8 inches the first silver stater popped up, after checking the hole the finder was captivated by further signals. After several hours of careful searching the finder had 13 coins before deciding to retire for the day.

A few days later the finder returned to the field with his regular detecting partner, who within a few minutes on the field located a positive signal 10 metres from where the 13 coins had been found previously. One coin emerged from the chalky soil and then another, and another. The count was up to 30 before this hole fell silent, a pace on and there were more signals. After an exhausting few hours digging through tough ground the count was up to over 70 coins but no sign of a container and well spread. At this point the finders contacted their Local Finds Liaison Officer who was on site within the hour to record their find and assess the location.



BACKGROUND

The Durotriges occupied the modern counties of Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire with the capital presumed to be Dorchester or nearby Maiden Castle. Hengistbury head must have been an important strong-hold of the Durotriges too, with its sheltered coastal position perhaps a main port for trading with the continent which the Durotriges were well known for, it is commonly accepted that continental trade was the reason for the success and longevity of the Durotriges. The Durotrigian territories were rich in Hill Forts, quite why so many defensive forts were built isn’t known but with an already strong topographic position the presence of many large hill forts must have made the Durotriges very intimidating to neighbouring tribes. Perhaps another key to their success. The Durotriges had very strong links with Continental tribes, this is evident from the large quantity of Italian Dressel I amphorae, imported glassware and other continental pottery found during excavations at Hengistbury Head.

In an unusual turn the Durotriges were the only tribe who didn’t add inscriptions to their coins, also the only tribe to strike a stater in silver. The Cranbourne Chase stater was the primary currency of the Durotriges, thought to be introduced around 60BC and gradually debased, possibly to do with diminished trade with the continent as a direct result of the Gallic Wars (60- 50BC) and finally disappeared around the time of the Claudian invasion in 43AD. Tribal boundaries are thought to have followed rivers, the Avon, Axe and Parrett as shown on the map opposite.



THE COINS

The Cranbourne Chase stater is evolved from the 4th Century BC Macedonian gold stater and shows a devolved head of Apollo facing right on the obverse and a tripletailed horse facing left on the reverse.

The Cranbourne Chase stater was the longest running series within Iron Age Britain and yet remained uninscribed for its entire duration, why was this? Perhaps a suggestion that there wasn’t one ruler of the Durotriges, perhaps many hill-fort based tribes using the same currency for ease of trade comparative to the modern day Euro. The earliest coins in this series weigh up to 6 grams and have a small gold content, the coins from the Winterbourne Stickland hoard weigh between 5.1 grams and 3.2 grams suggesting they were struck around 50BC-10BC. Interestingly while studying similar hoards in the British Museum it can be noted that the weight range is normally quite small, with nearly 2 grams between the heaviest and lightest in this group perhaps this suggests that they were saved by an individual over a longer period of time.

Aside from the main weight reduction there are a few variations in the Cranbourne Chase stater worth noting, the ‘Spread Tail’ type and ‘Badbury Rings’ type. The continual debasement ended with the Hengistbury series of cast bronze units leading up to 43AD, an example of which can be seen opposite.

CONSERVATION

Due to the presence of copper in the Winterbourne staters they were all heavily encrusted with verdigris (see below) and were crying out to be cleaned to reveal their former glory. This was a painstaking process but we are lucky at Silbury Coins to have in-house conservation specialists who with plenty of time and patience have done a wonderful job in conserving these coins ready to be enjoyed by collectors for centuries to come.

CONCLUSION

It is always a delight when hearing of a newly discovered coin hoard, more so when we get to handle, research and conserve the coins personally. Something we thoroughly enjoy being a part of and all those who have bought hoard coins from us can share. The downside is that this doesn’t happen very often, an Iron Age coin hoard being found, disclaimed and offered for sale to the private market is a rare event, certainly not to be missed. We will be releasing the coins in batches, to view what we have for sale please see below.

If you have a similar find or collection of coins then feel free to contact us and discuss what we can do for you, be it research, commission sale, auction or outright purchase you will find that Silbury Coins offers a service which will not disappoint. 

   
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