The Coinage Of Britain During The Roman Occupation
Peter R Thompson
“In 55BC Julius Caesar invaded Britain to be met by primitive savages painted with
woad. They gave him a hard time but eventually Roman discipline prevailed and Roman
rule was established. The Romans then went around building roads and dropping coins
until the Saxons arrived.”
Although historians and numismatists will recognise a number of inaccuracies in this
summary, it nevertheless seems to be the popular understanding of Britain’s three
and a half centuries as part of the Roman empire. The purpose of this paper is to
discuss what really happened in a little more detail, and to look particularly at
Whether Caesar ever intended a full-scale invasion of Britain and its annexation
by Rome is uncertain. After his lengthy Gallic campaign had finally come to a satisfactory
conclusion (for Rome!) Caesar made two armed incursions into southern Britain in
55 and 54 BC. His purpose may have been personal aggrandisement, but there were sound
military reasons for the campaign, too. Gaul had received support and sympathy from
Britain during the long Gallic Wars, and there were strong cross-Channel relationships
through trade and migration. It would have been very much in Rome’s interest to subdue
these troublesome Celtic tribes with treaties and with the obvious lesson that Roman
military interference was not only possible, but was a likely alternative.
Caesar did have a hard time, but Roman discipline and sophistication did prevail.
What could well have been a rout of the Roman forces in 55BC was turned into an orderly
withdrawal, and they returned the next year. They found in Britain a tribal civilisation
sufficiently well organised to raise, however briefly, a single army presumably under
single leadership, at the time and in the place where it was required – an Iron Age
civilisation with a developed agriculture, an established priesthood, and the beginnings
of a monetary economy. In short, a people far from the painted savages of historical
Caesar’s campaigns achieved several important objectives. The stronghold of Cassivellaunus,
leader of the warlike and anti-Roman Catuvellauni, at Wheathampstead, was invaded.
An amicable agreement was reached with the Trinovantes, who were the eastern neighbours
of the Catuvellauni, and other tribes were placed in varying degrees of subordination
to Rome. Tributes were arranged from several British tribes, hostages were taken,
and Catuvellaunian expansion was forbidden.
Caesar did not, though, find the rich treasures he had hoped for. Most of his agreements
lapsed when he left; the tributes were not paid for long, and Cassivellaunus was
still at large.
The Britons may have considered Caesar’s withdrawal to have been something of a victory.
The Senate, though, considered that, with military victory over Cassivellaunus, Britain
had been conquered and only had to be officially taken over at some convenient date
to make it a full Roman province.
For the next hundred years or so, relations between Britain and Rome remained on
this basis. There is evidence that trade between Rome and the pro-Roman Trinovantes
increased after Caesar’s visits. Throughout south-eastern Britain, a Celtic coinage
– the latest to develop and the last to survive – flourished and no doubt the ubiquitous
Roman denarius began to appear through trade in increasing numbers.
However, the Catuvellauni continued their expansion throughout southern Britain at
the expense of neighbouring tribes. Among others, this affected both the Trinovantes,
and the Atrebates, another tribe with whom Rome developed treaty relations. By c.
AD40 the Atrebatic kingdom was so reduced in size that its king, Verica, arrived
in Rome as a supplicant requesting some sort of action on his behalf.
The Emperor at the time was Claudius, and he may well have been looking for just
such an opportunity to improve his lagging popularity. In any case, the expanding
and hostile Catuvellauni had to be checked. Although Roman policy since the time
of Augustus had been against expanding the empire, Claudius nevertheless decided
to risk his credibility with an invasion of Britain. He succeeded brilliantly, or,
at least, his generals succeeded for him.
The Romans landed at Richborough in AD43 and, after a short delay so that Claudius
himself could be present, took possession of Britain as a province of the Roman empire,
later that year.
An arch was built at Rome to celebrate the triumph, and coins were struck to mark
the occasion, which were the first Roman coins to refer to Britain. Like many other
coins, issued from time to time up to the third century, which bore Britannia’s name,
these coins depicting the triumphal arch were for circulation in Rome and the empire
as a whole. Their function was not to provide a local currency for Britain, but to
give wider publicity to Claudius’ successes. Other provinces were similarly named
on the coins, on relevant occasions, so that coins naming Africa, Asia, Dacia, and
so on, would have been at least as common in Roman Britain as those naming Britannia.
Roman rule of their new province was at first limited to the southeast. By AD47 the
area south and east of the Fosse Way, which runs from Axminster to Lincoln, was firmly
under Roman control, but this was probably not a deliberately chosen frontier. It
marked the geographical border of the lowlands and, although the Fosse Way was fortified,
there were forts to the north and west of it, too. The conquest continued.
In the early days, the Romans created client rulers outside their immediate area
of occupation. Prasutagus, king of the Iceni in East Anglia, was one such, and soon
Cartimandua, queen of the Brigantes to the north, was also recruited. The Romans
were careful to appoint rulers rather than to create permanent client states. A client
king or queen was not necessarily followed by a natural heir or, indeed, by anyone
if it then suited Rome to take over.
These client kingdoms may have retained coining rights, but other local coinages
would definitely have ceased. The Brigantes had almost certainly never produced coins
of their own, but the Iceni may have continued coining until the famous revolt against
Roman rule in AD60 under their queen Boudicca.
Usually known today as Boadicea, her statue adorns London’s Westminster Bridge. She
was the widow of Prasutagus, and the Romans did not intend that she continue her
husband’s ‘client’ status. She is rumoured to be buried under what is now Platform
10 at London's Kings Cross Station.
Full Roman rule took some time to reach the west of England and parts of Wales. Its
extension northwards suffered several setbacks over the years, before the northern
boundary of the empire was more or less settled with the building of Hadrian’s Wall
in the second century, from the Tyne to the Solway Firth. Once again, this was probably
not seen by the Romans as a fixed frontier. For several years an Antonine Wall, named
after Antoninus Pius, emperor AD138-161, existed from the Clyde to the Forth. Forts
were established north of the walls, and there were military expeditions which penetrated
far into the north, one at least reaching the north coast.
The northern frontier area of Britain, though, was always a military region. The
northern limit of Roman civilian culture was the river Tees.
Administrators and Accountants
The arrival of the Roman legions and the administration of the province brought with
it an immediate requirement for large amounts of money in coin. The Romans, naturally,
introduced into Britain the coins which were in use in Rome at the time. The gold
aureus was used for large payments, but not much for day-to-day transactions. It
had a fixed value of 25 denarii until at least AD200. The silver denarius was the
main coin of value in general use. The low value coinage of sestertii, dupondii,
and asses was struck variously in bronze, orichalcum and in copper. [To avoid confusion
and uncertainty, we will use the generic term ‘aes’ when referring to base metal
coins throughout this paper.] The aes were a token coinage, in the following fixed
relationship to the silver: 1 denarius = 4 sestertii = 8 dupondii = 16 asses. The
as had further subdivisions called the semis, or half as, and the quadrans, or quarter
as, but these, as well as the gold and silver quinarii – half aureus and half denarius
– were used mainly in Rome and the more developed provinces.
These relationships are known today as the Augustan monetary system, because the
settled tariffs for the various denominations were arrived at under Augustus, the
first emperor, 27BC-AD14. The coins first used in Britain were principally the denarius
and the larger aes, mainly the as.
The mere presence of the Romans acted as a spur to the development of a monetary
economy in Britain. Long distance transport was a problem, so that food, fodder,
livestock, building materials and so on were all purchased locally. Around the military
settlements, traders would set themselves up to provide the goods and services required
by the soldiers and civil servants. The Romans in Britain were practically all government
servants, either military or civil, and had to be paid. Taxes and dues had to be
levied to pay for the whole set up.
Although pay for the Roman legionary was one denarius per day, a fairly sophisticated
system of keeping back money for his eventual discharge, and deductions for food
and equipment, left him (perhaps wisely) with much less actual spending power, and
most of the payments to the troops appear to have been in aes. Obviously, most of
the smaller transactions between the Romans and the local traders would also have
been in aes, and it was this requirement for huge quantities of large, heavy coins
which presented the authorities with their first major problem concerning the provision
of coinage in Britain.
All Roman aes at this time was struck at Rome, which was a long way from Britain.
Very few ships attempted the stormy passage west of the Pillars of Hercules, so the
heavy bags of coin would have to be carted with strong military escort the length
of Europe, and taken by sea across the Channel. Little wonder that the military paymasters
were soon short of coin.
The solution to the problem seems to have been the striking of large numbers of ‘unofficial’
asses of Claudius, copying the official as, with Minerva on the reverse. Just who
produced these copies is uncertain, but the fact that they are sometimes found with
genuine coins in hoards shows that the better copies, at least, were officially accepted.
Numismatic opinion varies, but it seems likely that these better copies were produced
officially as a temporary measure to supply the local shortage, while the poorer
examples were produced by local entrepreneurs who seized the opportunity to, literally,
make a bit of money.
There was a long tradition during the Republican and Imperatorial periods, of Roman
commanders in the field being permitted to strike coins, when required on a campaign
far from home, so the striking of a temporary coinage in Britain by the local administration
should not be considered unlikely.
Another measure was the countermarking of Claudian and earlier aes, which seems to
have taken place all along the northern frontiers of the empire, including Britain.
The purpose of these countermarks – usually a few letters such as AVG, PROB, etc
– applied to the obverse of worn coins is not known, but, like the Claudian copies,
their presence in hoards shows that countermarked aes were officially accepted. The
marks may have been applied by officials, to confirm the continued validity or revaluation
of old and inferior coins, when the supply of new coins to the frontier areas was
At about this time, c. AD64, Imperial aes began to be struck at Lugdunum. The reason
for this is obscure, but Lugdunum was certainly closer to the geographical centre
of the western empire – while the east was still mainly using locally-struck provincial
aes coins. This must have improved the supply of aes to Britain and the whole northern
frontier area, where it was needed.
During the early empire there were other occasions when a shortage of aes in Britain
may have led to locally-produced coins of an official nature. The best known of these
is the issue, in the AD150s, of asses of Antoninus Pius with Britannia on the reverse.
Until the fourth century the governor of a Roman province (appointed by the Emperor
and acting on his behalf) was in overall charge of military and civil affairs. Financial
affairs were in the hands of the procurator, who collected taxes, paid the army,
and supervised imperial property.
Administrative changes in the fourth century meant that Britain, like other provinces
of the Empire, henceforth had a civil governor (Vicarius) and a duke (Dux Britanniarum
in the case of Britain) in charge of the military.
Initially Britain was governed from Colchester, but the administration soon moved
to London. Late in the second century or early in the third the province was divided
into Britannia Superior, governed from London, and Britannia Inferior, governed from
York. From the beginning of the fourth century Britannia Superior and Inferior were
both subdivided, and the four resulting provinces were known as Britannia Prima (the
southwest), Maxima Caesarencis (the southeast including London), Flavia Caesarencis
(the midlands and Lincoln), and Britannia Secunda (the north including York). From
AD369 a fifth province, Valentia, appears somewhere in the north of Britain but its
extent and exact location are uncertain
By the end of the first century AD, the Romans were able to begin a period of consolidation
in Britain. Wooden forts were replaced with those of stone, stone villas began to
appear in the country, and public buildings were erected in the cities.
During the second and third centuries, most cities in Britain built defences, and
by the fourth century almost all urban settlements were walled. This may indicate
some sort of military presence in most towns at the time, and also that the administration
seems to have been worried more about raiding incursions than an all-out invasion
of Britain. It wasn’t until the later third century that a systematic chain of coastal
defences, later referred to as the Saxon Shore, began to appear.
Relative to its size and population, Britain had an extremely large garrison, with
three permanent legionary bases. Legion II Augusta was quartered at Caerleon, Legion
VI Victrix at York, and Legion XX Valeria Victrix (probably named for its victory
over Boudicca) at Chester. There were also large numbers of smaller auxiliary units
in the province, which came from all over the empire. Auxiliary units were probably
recruited locally in Britain from around the AD80s, but the legions themselves were
manned exclusively by Roman citizens. As time went on, some Britons were accorded
the privilege of Roman citizenship, and local recruitment to the legions themselves
probably began in the mid second century. It wasn’t until around AD214 that the emperor
Caracalla granted full citizenship to all free inhabitants of the empire.
The high quality of the Roman gold and silver coinage began to decline under Nero,
who reduced the weights of the coins, and also the fineness of the silver, in AD64.
Before this reduction, perhaps half of the Roman silver circulating in Britain was
old republican denarii. After it, the republican element in hoards gradually reduces.
A major debasement of the silver coinage took place towards the end of the second
century. Around AD214 or 215, a larger silver coin was introduced by Caracalla (whose
real name was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus) which has become known in modern times as
the antoninianus after the emperor. It was almost certainly intended as a double
denarius – the emperor is always shown on these coins wearing a radiate crown, just
as the dupondius (two asses) often uses the same device. It is because of this radiate
crown that the antoninianii are sometimes referred to as ‘radiates.’ Their silver
content and weight were significantly less than that of two denarii, although the
denarius itself remained the dominant silver coin until the AD230s.
During the third century, the antoninianus was steadily reduced in fineness and weight
until by the AD260s it was often little better than an aes coin. These debasements
of the third century reflect, to some extent, the state of the empire itself.
Emperors from all corners of the empire came and went with remarkable rapidity, although
nearly all of them (even Marius who is said to have lasted only two or three days
in AD268) managed to strike coins. Some of these rulers were only able to claim rule
of part of the empire.
The Third Century Revolts
It was in this climate that the phenomenon known as the ‘Gallic Empire’ arose. Under
the successive emperors Postumus, Victorinus, Tetricus I and Tetricus II, an area
roughly corresponding to Britain, Gaul and Spain, effectively seceded from the central
empire between c. AD260 and 273. During this time, when Gallienus, Claudius II and
then Aurelian, were the legitimate emperors in Rome, Britain was cut off from the
The Gallic emperors struck huge quantities of radiates, some denarii and a little
gold at their mints, probably Trier and Cologne, and for the period of their usurpation
these were the coins that entered Britain. At around this time, a shortage of official
coin in Britain and Gaul led to the local production of large numbers of imitation
antoninianii; these unofficial issues are known today as ‘barbarous radiates.’
After AD273, there was probably some attempt to suppress the coinage of the late
Gallic usurpers, and this could have created further shortages. The use of barbarous
radiates in Britain probably continued until c. AD286. They copy the coins of the
central as well as the Gallic rulers, and some are so ridiculously small that it
is difficult to imagine them all circulating at par.
The Gallic Empire was followed in AD287 by a British usurpation under Carausius,
AD287-293, and Allectus, AD293-296. Carausius had been the commander of the Roman
Channel fleet until he seized power, and the possession of the fleet placed him in
a very strong position. His rebellion also shut his territories off entirely from
all the mints of the empire.
The shortage of coin was remedied by the opening of the first identifiable Roman
mint in Britain. It is debatable if the mint of a usurper can be termed ‘official’
but the product of the London mint was very similar to the mints of the central empire.
In his yearning for recognition, Carausius sometimes used the style AVGGG on these
coins, the extra ‘G’s signifying his ‘colleagues’ Diocletian and Maximianus who were
now ruling in Rome and Byzantium. Carausius’ London mint was soon supplemented by
a second mint, probably established at Colchester.
It was during the usurpation by Carausius and Allectus that the emperor Diocletian,
AD284-305, carried out his far-reaching reforms of the way in which the empire was
governed. Among them was the division of the empire between east and west, governed
from Byzantium and Rome. An independent Britain had no part in Diocletian’s scheme
of things, and in AD296 Constantius Chlorus was sent to deal with Allectus. Britain
was returned to the rule of the western empire.
Diocletian’s Reform and the Common Currency
Another of Diocletian’s reforms was an overhaul of the coinage, which probably took
place over several years, and which marked the end of the old Augustan monetary system.
The aureus had reduced considerably in weight during the third century, but was increased
to 1/60th of a pound around AD290. Already, by AD301, this coin was known to the
Romans as a solidus, but numismatists today apply the new term to the lightweight
coin of 1/72nd of a pound first introduced by Constantine I in AD309. There had been
no regular supply of silver coins since the debasement of the antoninianus, but Diocletian
re-introduced a silver coin, similar in weight and fineness to the denarii of Nero,
which was called the argenteus. It was not popular, and was replaced during the fourth
century by the miliarense, and then the siliqua, both of lighter weights.
Diocletian continued to strike the radiate antoninianus, but now with no pretence
that it was anything other than aes. There was also a small laureate aes coin, probably
in the same 1:2 relationship to the radiate as the denarius had been to the antoninianus.
The main subsidiary coin, though, was now a large silver-washed bronze coin. Astonishingly,
we don’t know what this coin was called at the time, although it was struck in huge
quantities. Numismatists today call it the ‘follis,’ which seems to represent the
name of the bags in which the coins were held, rather than the coin itself. [Though
since this paper was written in 1995 the term 'nummus' has come into more general
use when describing the follis. ] Fresh from the mint with a full silver wash, it
must have been an impressive looking piece, about the size of the old Augustan as.
Coins of all mints circulated throughout the empire and, as hoards show, mixed fairly
quickly. Obviously, local mints supplied the majority of new coinage in any one province,
and the London mint, which had been set up by Carausius, was kept in use by the central
emperors until c. AD325.
Other western mints such as Trier and Lugdunum also supplied a large part of the
circulating medium of Britain, particularly after the closure of the London mint,
but coins of more distant mints such as Siscia, Cyzicus, Nicomedia and Alexandria
circulated quite happily alongside them.
Diocletian’s reforms also brought an end to the independent coinages of the eastern
empire. By and large the same types were in issue at all mints at the same time thus
creating a truly common European currency, with an apparent ease which must be the
envy of many modern Eurocrats.
The relationship that Diocletian’s coins bore to each other is not known with certainty
today, nor are the values at which they circulated. The contemporary names of the
aes coins are also mysteries, but it is possible that the currency system, by 301,
was something like this:
Aes laureate = 2 denarii
Aes radiate (post reform) = 4 denarii
Silver washed aes (follis) = 20 denarii
Argenteus = 100 denarii
Aureus (solidus) = 1500 denarii
It must be stressed, though, that this is guesswork, and other systems have been
suggested based on an aes laureate of one denarius.
The fourth century was a period of continuous change to the coinage. The smaller
aes coins disappeared within a few years, and the follis was reduced in size quite
rapidly, until by 337 it was only around 15mm in diameter (known as AE3 today.) This
smaller coin was probably known to the Romans as a centenionalis. Larger billon coins,
possibly known as ‘maiorina,’ were introduced in 348 with a reverse legend of FEL
TEMP REPARATIO, and these may have contained a nominal amount of silver until c.
A shortage of aes in Britain in the 350s led to the same local remedy as had produced
the third century barbarous radiates, and huge numbers of copies of the FEL TEMP
REPARATIO coins, some very small, were produced in Britain and Gaul. An interesting
development during this rash of imitations was the overstriking of earlier coin types
by the FEL TEMP forgers, perhaps because of an official recoinage of earlier types.
This overstriking seems to be peculiar to Britain.
After Adrianople, the battle in which emperor Valens was killed in 378, the eastern
and western empires began to diverge. The west generally declined in importance,
stability and security, while the east prospered and eventually became the Byzantine
Empire. The unified coinage also began to diverge from c. 380 after which eastern
issues of aes are rarely found in Britain.
In spite of inflation and obvious problems with the supply of an adequate subsidiary
coinage, gold and silver became more plentiful as the fourth century progressed,
and the coins maintained constant purity.
The Beginning of the End
The lapse of the western empire into virtual anarchy led inexorably to its demise.
The real decline of Roman control in Britain probably began about the middle of the
fourth century with barbarian incursions coming from what are now Scotland, Ireland,
Germany and Holland. These incursions were raids for personal enrichment, rather
than attempts at invasion, but by the mid 360s barbarian attacks on the north western
provinces of the empire became more concerted – a new and worrying trend for the
A military defeat of the Romans in Britain in AD367 by several barbarian tribes led
to a general breakdown of law and order, large scale desertions from the Roman army,
and unchecked plundering of the province. The subsequent re-establishment of Roman
control by c. AD369 under Valentinian I, AD364-375, included the reconstruction of
Britain’s defences and town walls, and the establishment of the obscure fifth province.
It was probably the last major assertion of Roman power in Britain.
After this, the last thirty years of the fourth century may well have been a peaceful
and prosperous period for the province, although it included the usurpation of Magnus
Maximus, AD383-388. Maximus was commander of the Roman troops in Britain when his
forces, unhappy at the rule of Gratian, proclaimed him emperor. He never attained
full recognition from the Eastern emperor in Constantinople, and was eventually executed
after a military defeat. Numismatically his reign is interesting in that he briefly
reopened the London mint, where he struck solidi and siliquae. By this time, London
had been renamed Augusta, and his London mint coins use AVG as a mint signature.
The Final Days
When, in the early fifth century, the capital of the Gallic prefecture, through which
Britain was administered, was moved south from Trier to Arelate, this must have led
to a growing feeling of isolation in Britain and, once again, to political unrest.
The move south was due to barbarian incursions into Gaul, and followed the removal
of the Western seat of government from Milan to Ravenna. It was probably the uncertainties
caused by this which led to usurpations of power in Britain by influential Romans
during the early fifth century. The first two attempts to seize power at this time,
by a ‘Marcus’ and a ‘Gratian’ in AD406-7, were brief and insignificant, but that
of Constantine III, AD407-411, was much more important.
Constantine’s seizure of power was almost certainly a genuine attempt to secure the
province of Britain against the Alans, Vandals and Suevi, who were spilling into
Gaul, and against whom the central authorities were taking little action other than
the removal of their regional capital southwards. His choice of name, and the fact
that, like Carausius before him, he used the title AVGGG (and sometimes AAAVGGGG)
on his coins to indicate equality with the central emperors, is an indication of
the importance that he attached to himself and his mission, but he does not seem
to have been popular in Britain, and was only tolerated by the western emperor Honorius
for as long as was necessary.
To oppose the Gallic incursions, Constantine III took his Romano-British army to
Gaul, and was soon at Trier. In his absence, in AD409, his administration in Britain
was expelled, and in AD410 the Romano-Britons may have appealed to Honorius to resume
control. With Rome itself temporarily in Gothic hands, this was not possible, but
when Honorius had stabilised affairs, regained Gaul from Constantine III and executed
him, in AD411, it would have seemed to many Romano-Britains that yet another crisis
was over, and Britain would soon be restored to the empire.
In fact Honorius was not strong enough, or interested enough, to mount a cross-Channel
expedition to regain a troublesome province. Although the Romano-Britons may not
have realised it at the time, their expulsion of Constantine III’s administration
in 409 marked the end of the Roman government in Britain.
The amount of gold in circulation increased in Britain, as in the rest of the empire,
in the later fourth century, and the province was very well supplied with silver.
Silver struck after AD402 is scarce in British finds, however, and the official import
of aes coins into Britain seems to have ceased soon after AD400, as no post-AD404
issue has been found here in any quantity.
From the usurpation of Constantine III in AD407, no coins of the central empire would
have been officially sent to Britain except, perhaps, after Honorius temporarily
recognised Constantine in AD409. He did, though, strike his own coins in the Gallic
mints – gold, silver, and a little aes. These were probably not struck in very large
quantities, as they are all rare today, but some are found in Britain.
The end of official Roman administration in Britain in AD409 was sudden, but the
people who remained in the ex-province were very Roman in outlook, and actual change
would have been slow. Many Romano-Britons no doubt considered themselves still to
be Roman citizens, and life had to go on. Just what form that life took, and how
they administered and defended themselves is quite uncertain, but after more than
360 years of Roman rule it is very probable that a Roman way of life continued for
many years. Britain was probably governed on broadly Roman lines by quasi-military
leaders of whom Vortigern was one.
It was once thought that many of the smaller imitations of Roman coins found in Britain,
of the barbarous radiate and FEL TEMP types, were struck for local use during the
first half of the fifth century. While it is possible that some of them were, site
finds which are securely dated show that even the smallest of these imitations were
current at the same time as the originals. In any case, why copy coins that were
no longer current?
Although the prime need for a coinage had disappeared with the Roman army, there
must still have been a need for currency of some sort for a number of years. Probably
the aes in circulation, which are often found very worn today, were sufficient for
small transactions, and a few aes coins were still imported until at least AD435.
Late fourth century siliquae found in Britain, sometimes in large hoards, are often
clipped quite severely. This phenomenon is not known from elsewhere within the empire,
but it does occur in areas outside it. It would therefore seem that these clipped
silver coins belong, in Britain, to the period after the Roman withdrawal. The clipping
of these earlier coins perhaps brought them into line with the weight of fifth century
Some citizens no doubt still owned quantities of solidi for wealth storage, but widespread
coin use in Britain probably ceased by c. AD430. A sixth century site, Castle Dore,
is completely coinless, and the next coinage to appear in Britain was that of the
Germanic settlers in the seventh century. But that is another story.
The last known appeal by Britons to Rome was in AD443, according to the Anglo Saxon
Chronicle. It was unsuccessful, but the Britons who fought the battle of Mons Badonicus,
c. AD500, probably still thought they were defending a basically Romano-British,
Christian, way of life against the pagan Saxon interlopers. In this, of course, they
eventually failed, but that too is another story.
The following map shows the locations of the principal civil and military features
of Roman Britain.
Click to go directly to your chosen chapter
Administrators & Accountants
The Third Century Revolts
Diocletian’s Reforms and
the Common Currency
The Beginning of the End
The Final Days
For Reference - Map
of Roman Britain
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Obverse & Reverse of a silver denarius issued for Julius Caesar from an unknown mint
believed to have been in Africa
Republican denarii circulated in Britain well into Imperial times
Obverse & Reverse of a sestertius issued for the Emperor Claudius
Claudius’ coinage was the first Roman money to enter Britain in quantity
Obverse & Reverse of a silver unit of the Iceni tribe, sometimes attributed to Queen
Orichalcum Dupondius, issued by the Emperor Caligula in the name of his father Germanicus.
Detail of the NCAPR Countermark
Nero Caesar Augustus PRobavit?
An Orichalcum Sestertius of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, the reverse showing a seated
figure of Britannia. Similar designs appeared on dupondii and asses possibly struck
at a field mint in Britain
Debased billon Antoninianus of the ephemeral Emperor Marius, said to have been a
blacksmith, killed with a sword of his own manufacture after a reign of three days.
Not really very likely!
Debased billon Antoninianus of the Emperor Postumus thought to have marked the opening
of the second mint
in the Gallic Empire, possibly at Cologne
Celtic copy of circulating Roman Antoniniani, produced both in mainland Europe and
Antoninianus issued by Carausius who maintained a breakaway state in Britain and
northern Gaul . In his quest for recognition some very rare coins showed Carausius
as the colleague of Diocletian and Maximianus, the legitimate Emperors
Silver-washed copper or bronze Reduced Follis, Licinius, GENIO POP ROM
London Mint, indicated by the mintmark PLN in the exergue
Silver-washed copper or bronze Reduced Follis, Constantine the Great,
PROVIDENTIAE AVGG, Cyzicus Mint
Clipped silver Siliqua of the Emperor Honorius, from the mint at Milan, indicated
by the mintmark MDPS in the exergue
Silver Siliqua of the Emperor Constantine III, from the mint at Trier, indicated
by the mintmark TRMS in the exergue