Iron Age and Roman coins
See the guide to Iron Age coins on the Portable Atiquities Scheme website www.finds.org.uk/ironagecoins/ . This gives a history of how Philip II of Macedon coins spread over Europe, partly with the Celts and partly through exchange, which is how they came to Britain (as the Greeks didn’t). One Philip II of Macedon coin was found at Desborough Castle, High Wycombe. Later coins copy the images, which get more and more stylised. The Late Iron Age coin hoard found on Whaddon Chase show some similarities and differences from the Philip II of Macedon coins.
Roman coins reflect different aspects of the Roman Empire. There is also a guide to Roman coins on the Portable Antiquities Scheme website www.finds.org.uk/romancoins/. The coins were made, or minted, in several different parts of the Empire. There is a list of mints on the website just mentioned. You could do an activity with your pupils to find where the Roman coins found in Buckinghamshire were minted. Use the map linked to this record for the activity:
Try to find some Roman coins in Buckinghamshire that were minted in Trier in what is now Germany. Do a simple search with the word Trier on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal.
- How many are there?
- Where have they been found?
Plot them on the map of Roman Buckinghamshire your teacher gives you.
There is one coin in Buckinghamshire that was minted in Sisci in Croatia; where was it found?
Try to find other coins that were minted in the furthest corners of the Roman Empire.
Each Roman coin had a bust of the Emperor, who often came from a distant part of the Empire; they weren’t all from Rome! Trajan and Hadrian were from Spain; Septimus Severus and Caracalla were from Libya. Constantine moved the Roman capital from Rome to Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey). Try to find any coins of these emperors in Buckinghamshire.
For quite a large project, you could split your class into teams looking for Roman coins minted in different countries. Do a simple search under country names on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal. For instance, you could have a team looking for coins from the London mint, another looking at coins minted in France, another at Italy, another at Trier in Germany (a very prolific mint), another at Turkey and the last group looking at other isolated mints in Croatia, Serbia, Greece, Egypt and Tunisia. This could link to a geography lesson, finding out where these places are and what they’re like now.
Print out the map of Roman Buckinghamshire linked to this page and get each team to roughly plot where their coins or a selection of their coins were found. They can use the digital mapping on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal to help them plot this. Print out a large copy of a map of the Roman Empire (you can get free high resolution maps online or from the University of Texas website www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/history_europe.html). Place each of the completed Buckinghamshire maps around the map of the Roman Empire and get each team to draw lines showing where the coins came from.
Click here for more ideas for Putting Buckinghamshire in context.