What’s on : Lectures

Constantine and Coinage: Interpreting the Wold Newton Hoard

15 Jan 2019
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Dr Andrew Woods, Senior Curator, York Museums Trust

Event Information

Constantine and Coinage: Interpreting the Wold Newton Hoard
Dr. Andrew Woods
Senior Curator, Yorkshire Museum

Discovered in 2014, the Wold Newton hoard is one of the largest hoards of its type ever found in Britain. Over 1800 coins were found, carefully hidden in a vessel, by a metal-detectorist. The hoard was buried at a crucial point in history, shortly after the death of the emperor Constantius in York and just as Constantine the Great was beginning his rise to power.

This paper will explore the story of the hoard’s discovery in the twenty-first century as well as seeking to interpret the context of its deposition in the fourth. Particular focus will be upon when, where and why it was buried as these questions can help us to better understand the economy and society of late Roman York.

Images courtesy of York Museums Trust (Yorkshire Museum)

Member’s report

The period 305-308 AD was a turning point in the Roman Empire. It was marked by the death of Constantius and the acclamation of his son Constantine as Emperor, in York; and finally by the end of the Imperial Tetrarchy. The then Emperor and his son came to Eboracum from Trier bringing troops and almost certainly a large amount of money to pay them. Where this money was spent may account for the size of some northern coin hoards that date from this period. The Wold Newton hoard is the third largest, and the best preserved and excavated of them. It consists of over 1,800 single-denomination bronze coins, mostly – and significantly – minted in London, Trier and Lyon, with only a few from elsewhere in the Empire.

The coins were found in 2014, in a thin-sided pot with a lid, in an area of Roman settlements on the Wolds. They were probably saved over a period of years judging from the dated contents of the different layers. Why and by whom thus accumulated is a matter of speculation: their value, several years’ pay for a soldier or a farmer, suggests a wealthy person or family. The reasons for hoarding remain obscure as the archaeological context has yet to be explored.

Carole Smith