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Not the Dig Diary Sunday 6th August 2017

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

Another glorious sunny day here in Orkney, pity the dig’s over for 2017 and we’re not able to take advantage of all this nice weather. Avid readers of this diary will remember that I promised you full details on the identification of our Roman coin when we had them.

Roman coin - a Nummus of Constans found at Swandro, Orkney

Well, I realised that I’d forgotten to post the details here – mea culpa! (which is about the only Latin I know – we got a year of Latin at our school then the powers that be decided that comprehensive school kids didn’t need a classical education).

Here is the official ID from Richard Henry of the Salisbury Museum:

'It is a nummus (a 4th century bronze coin) of Constans which dates from AD 348 – 350 (the obverse says [DN CONSTA]NS PF AVG).

The reverse is a FEL TEMP REPARATIO Emperor on galley standing left holding a Victory on globe. It was made in Trier in the first officina (at the bottom of the reverse you can see TRP which basically means the first workshop of Trier). This coin was only made between 348 and 350.

Reverse of the nummus found at Swandro

It is hard to say what these coins would have bought in the 4th century as the records are sparse. Looking at my books there are no figures for AD 348 – 350 but a little later in AD 353 you would need around 1100 of these bronze coins for one gold coin. These large module coins were banned in AD 354.

The LRBC reference is LRBC 43 and the RIC is RIC Vol VII Trier number 219'

(For what these references mean click here for bibliography)

So there you have it – what strikes me as most remarkable is that a bronze coin with so little intrinsic value made it all the way to Orkney years and then ended up being dropped in our Peedie Roundhouse!



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