Saturday, 2 Dec 2023

Amateur treasure hunters make stunning find on Anglesey

It is every metal dectorist’s dream – finding gold.

That dream came true for a group who discovered a hoard of 15 Iron Age coins containing gold and silver in Wales.

The coins were discovered scattered across the corner of a field in Llangoed on Anglesey between July 2021 and March 2022.

They have been attributed to the Corieltavi tribe, who inhabited the modern East Midlands during the late Iron Age. 

According to a statement from the National Museum of Wales, the coins were minted between 60 BC and 20 BC at three different mints across what is now Lincolnshire.

This is the first hoard of Iron Age gold coins to have been discovered in Wales.

Metal detectorists Peter Cockton, Lloyd Roberts and Tim Watson found the coins and reported the discovery to the Portable Antiquities Scheme. 

‘Having been searching for history for over 14 years, finding a gold stater was always number one on my wish list,’ said Lloyd Roberts, who found the first two coins in the hoard.

‘Having never expected to actually find one, let alone in Anglesey, can you imagine my shock, delight and surprise as I called out to my friend Peter, having dug up a beautiful full gold stater [Celtic coin] in mint condition?’

‘That one coin alone would have made my year, but I went on to find another on my next signal, and then Peter found a total of three.’

Tim Watson, who found the remaining 10 coins, said he was relatively new to metal detecting and only took it up during lockdown.

‘I’d been over this field a few times and not found much of interest and then one evening literally struck gold,’ said Mr Watson. ‘I rushed home to show my wife and we were both in awe of this coin, which was like nothing else I had found, immaculately preserved with such unusual stylised images.’

He then upgraded his metal detector and found another nine coins in the same area in the following weeks.

‘This hoard is a fantastic example of the rich archaeological landscape that exists in North-West Wales,’ said Sean Derby, the finds recording officer at Gwynedd Archaeological Trust.

The design of each of the coins has been described to be derived from Macedonian gold coins of Phillip II, which show the bust of Apollo on the head side and a two-horsed chariot and charioteer on the tail side.

The heads side of these coins show Apollo’s wreath and hair, while the reverse shows a stylised triangular-headed horse with various symbols surrounding it.

The Iron Age tribes inhabiting modern Wales did not make their own coins and rarely used other tribes’ coins, so finds are rare in Wales from this period.

Iron Age coins are rarely found on pre-Roman settlement sites in Britain. They were probably not used for everyday transactions in the way that coins are used today.

Instead, they are thought to have been used as gifts between elites to secure alliances or loyalty, or as offerings to the gods – although in some cases they may have been used for high value purchases.

Previous archaeological finds indicate that Anglesey was an important religious centre during the 1st centuries BC and AD.

Additionally, Parys Mountain on Anglesey and the nearby Great Orme were sources of copper, so these coins may have formed part of an exchange of by the Corieltavi in exchange for metal.

The detectorists added were pleased that the coins would be on display at a museum everyone to see.

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