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BGN356 - Magnentius (A.D. 350-353) Ć Centenionalis, 18mm, 3.00g.,  Trier mint, unknown officina, A.D. 350-353, bare headed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, rev., Victories standing, vis-ŕ-vis, holding wreath inscribed VOT / V / MVLT / X between them, no column, [TRP or S] in exergue, (cf RIC 316; similar to Bridgnorth Report #188-189), struck on a short dumpy flan, extremely fine, unable to locate in the haord report  $95 SOLD

 

BGN355 - Constantius II (A.D. 337-361), Post-Magnentian, AE Centenionalis, 21mm, 3.82g., Amiens mint, 18th August - the end of A.D. 353, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of the Emperor right, DN CONSTANTIVS PF AVG, A behind, rev., FEL TEMP REPARTIO, AMB in exergue, helmeted soldier spearing fallen horseman, (RIC 48; Bridgnorth Report #300), extremely fine, one of last coins of the mint of Amiens.  $195 SOLD

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BGN354 - Constantius Gallus (A.D. 351 - 354), Post-Magnentian, AE Centenionalis, 20mm, 3.75g., Amiens mint, 18th August - the end of A.D. 353, bare headed, draped and cuirassed bust of the Emperor right, rev., FEL TEMP REPARTIO, [AMB] in exergue, helmeted soldier spearing fallen horseman, (RIC 47; Bridgnorth Report #334), extremely fine, small deposit on lips, one of last coins of the mint of Amiens, mintmark off flan but Trier style.  $175 SOLD

 

BGN357 - Constantius II (A.D. 337-361), Pre-Magnentian Revolt, AE Centenionalis, 23mm, 5.49g., Lyons mint, second officina, A.D. 348-350, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of the Emperor right,  A behind head, rev., FEL TEMP REPARATIO, SLG* in exergue, helmeted soldier spearing fallen horseman, A in field, (RIC 101; Bridgnorth Report #75), good very fine.  $225 SOLD

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BGN330 - Constantius II (A.D. 337-361), Post-Magnentian Revolt, AE Centenionalis, 18mm, 4.49g., Lyons mint, second officina, A.D. 3538-355, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of the Emperor right, rev., FEL TEMP REPARATIO,  FSLG in exergue, helmeted soldier spearing fallen horseman, (RIC 184; Bridgnorth Report #310), very fine.  $95 NOW $55 SOLD

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BGN295 - Constantius II (A.D. 337-361), Pre-Magnentian Revolt, AE Centenionalis, 25mm, 4.58g., Arles mint, first officina, A.D. 348-350, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of the Emperor right, A behind head, rev., FEL TEMP REPARATIO, PARL in exergue, helmeted soldier spearing fallen horseman, A in field, PAR, (RIC 140; Bridgnorth Report #80), very fine.  $145 NOW $85 SOLD

 

BGN297 - Constantius II (A.D. 337-361), Pre-Magnentian Revolt, AE Centenionalis, 25mm, 4.87g., Arles mint, second officina, A.D. 348-350, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of the Emperor right, A behind head, rev., FEL TEMP REPARATIO, SARL in exergue, helmeted soldier spearing fallen horseman, A in field, (RIC 119/121-22; Bridgnorth Report #79), good very fine.  $135 NOW $80 SOLD

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BGN314 - Constantius II (A.D. 337-361), Pre-Magnentian Revolt, AE Centenionalis, 24mm, 4.24g., Arles mint, first officina, A.D. 348-350, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of the Emperor right, A behind head, rev., FEL TEMP REPARATIO,  helmeted soldier spearing fallen horseman, A in field, PAR, (RIC 140; Bridgnorth Report #83), very fine.  $135 NOW $80 SOLD

 

BGN292 - Constantius II (A.D. 337-361), Pre-Magnentian Revolt, AE Centenionalis, 23mm, 5.45g., Arles mint, first officina, A.D. 348-350, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of the Emperor right, A behind head, rev., FEL TEMP REPARATIO, PARL in exergue, helmeted soldier spearing fallen horseman, A in field, PAR, (RIC 140; Bridgnorth Report #80), very fine.  $95 NOW $55 SOLD

A copy of the preliminary British Museum report by Richard Abdy and F. López-Sánchez will be sent with each order, where possible the numbering used in this list is mentioned in our descriptions. Also included is a copy of UK / EU Export License.

Discovery

On October 10th, 2007 a metal detectorist discovered a large scattered hoard of late Roman coins that had been disturbed by deep plowing in a potato field near Bridgnorth, Shropshire. His subsequent actions are praised in the UK government 2007 Portable Antiquities and Treasure Annual Report, where local finds officer Peter Reavill states: “The finder is to be congratulated on the careful plotting and speedy reporting of this hoard as it enabled the excavation to take place and vital depositional information recorded. In turn, this minimised the impact to the landowner and his farming activity.” The majority of hoards that come to light are found outside of planned archaeological excavations, the original owner having selected a secluded spot to conceal his or her wealth away from human habitation, leading to loss of information on the archaeological context of the hoard. In this instance, swift action and close cooperation by the finder and the local Finds Liaison Officer led to an excavation of the findspot. The results of which showed that the hoard had been contained in a large pottery vessel (broken by the plow), most probably previously used as a cooking pot as evidenced by burns marks on the outer edges. The pot had been buried in a U-shaped gulley or ditch that formed part of an otherwise unknown late Roman site.

Composition

The hoard consisted of 2892 coins, ranging in date from a Reform Antoninianus of Probus to post Magnentian issues of Constantius II up to A.D. 355. The majority of the hoard was issues of Magnentius and Decentius (75%), followed by pre-Magnentian issues of Constantius II and Constans (18%) and closing with post Magnentian issues of Constantius II and Gallus (7%).

 

Mints

 

Ruler & Type

Amiens

Trier

Lyon

Arles

Others

Uncertain

Imitations

Total

Probus

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

1

Constantine I & Licinius II

-

-

-

-

3

-

-

3

Constantius II & Constans (AD 348–50):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fel Temp Repartio (Galley)

-

184

14

21

34

14

153

420

Fel Temp Repartio (Hut)

-

8

4

1

17

-

-

30

Fel Temp Repartio (Falling Horseman)

-

-

14

33

1

1

11

60

Constantius II & Vetranio (AD 350-1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCORDIA MILITUM

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

1

Magnetius & Decentius (AD 350-1):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fel Temp Repartio (Galley)

-

28

-

-

-

-

-

28

Felicitas Reipublice (Emperor standing)

 

174

65

22

-

-

152

413

Gloria Romanorum (Emperor standing)

18

105

30

25

1

12

97

288

Falling Horseman

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

1

2 Victories

529

296

52

47

5

61

243

1233

Chi-Rho

64

53

31

8

-

42

10

208

Brockage

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

‘POEMENIUS’ Chi-Rho

-

40

-

-

-

-

-

40

Constantius II & Gallus (AD 351–54):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fel Temp Repartio (Falling Horseman)

42

12

27

-

18

17

46

162

Illegible fragments

-

-

-

-

-

2

-

2

Total

653

900

237

158

81

150

712

2893

Coin Types

The AD 348 reform of the coinage by Constantius II saw the introduction of three different reverse types all with the reverse legend Fel(icium) Temp(orum) Reparatio (Happy Times Restored), probably linked into the commemoration of the 1100th anniversary of Rome’s foundation. All three types are well represented in the hoard, with the mint at Trier being the largest supplier.

The coinage of Magnentius begins with reverse types that copy those of Constantius II before the introduction of new types like GLORIA ROMANORUM (horseman), Two Victories and most notably the Chi-Rho types for which he is best known. These later types were also struck by his junior colleague Decentius. An innovation in this reign was the striking on new larger Double Centenionalis with the Chi-Rho reverse and the opening of a new mint at Ambianum (Amiens in northern France). This town was allegedly his birthplace but also provided some security against wavering loyalty to his regime at the main mint town of Trier. Indeed, late in the life of the rebellion a certain ‘Poemenius’ struck Double Cententionalii with the Chi-Rho reverse in the name of Constantius II at Trier, as the city switched sides. Another visible departure from the coinage of Constantius II and his predecessors is the bare headed portrait as opposed to the diademed one.

The hoard ends with issues of Constantius II and his junior colleague Gallus of the Fel Temp Repartio (Falling horseman) type, many struck at the mint if Ambianum which remained in operation for about a year after the fall of it’s founder Magnentius.

Almost 25% of the hoard were imitative types, this is a common feature of other Magnentian Hoards and illustrates how quickly the forgers took up the new types.

Historical Background – The Revolt of Magnentius

In A.D. 350 the Roman Empire was ruled by the two remaining sons of Constantine the Great, Constantius II and his younger brother Constans. Responsible for the western provinces, Constans increasingly cruel, corrupt and unpopular reign inspired a coup amongst the political and military elite led by Marcellinus the comes Largitionum (chief finance minister). Flavius Magnus Magnentius commander of the Ioviani and Herculiani elite guard units was elevated to the rank of augustus by the coup leaders. A native of Amiens and reputedly the son of a Romano-British father and a Frankish mother he quickly took control of Britain, Gaul, Spain and for a period of time Rome. From the position of a slave in the service of Constantine I, he had quickly risen in the military ranks and must have been a very capable individual despite the hostile opinions of later Roman historians.   Constans fled and was killed as he attempted to cross the Pyrenees.

A pragmatic pagan, Magnentius chose to exploit the theological divide between Orthodox (more like modern Roman Catholic) Christians, many of which were to be found in the western provinces and the followers of the sect called Arianism, of which Constantius II himself was a supporter. The overt use of the Chi-Rho on his later issues, especially on the Double Cententionalii but also as a minor device on other issues is evidence of this. In addition his portraiture is bare headed and not diademed, imagery more reminiscent of Christ. The chief divergence between the Orthodox and Arian creeds is centered on the exact nature and relationship between the elements of the Holy Trinity, ('God the Father', 'God the Son' and 'God the Holy Spirit'), in short the divinity of the ‘man’ Jesus Christ as opposed to 'God the Father' and the ‘Holy Spirit’. He also removed the ban on some pagan practices and was clearly looking for support wherever it could be found.

Decentius, possibly the brother of Magnentius was raised to the rank of Caesar early in A.D. 351 at Milan, in response to the earlier elevation of Gallus to Caesar by Constantius. Looking to eliminate Constantius and expand his territory, Magnentius marched east and engaged the enemy at Mursa in Pannonia (Osijek, Croatia) on 28 September A.D. 351. Despite huge losses on both sides, over 50,000 dead, the battle was indecisive and Magnentius was ultimately forced to retreat. Having lost the momentum of his campaign his rebellion was ultimately to end with his total defeat at Mons Seleuci in the Hautes-Alpes, Southern France in the summer of A.D. 353.

We know from the surviving accounts of the contemporary writer Ammianus Marcellinus, which survive from the period following the death of Magnentius, that the reprisals against the supporters of the defeated regime were severe. Constantius II sent an imperial notarius (secretary) known by the nickname Paul ‘the Chain’ to Britain to root out supporters of Magnentius. The upper classes who had actively supported the rebel regime suffered most, with the seizure of property and the imprisonment and torture of the accused, often the innocently accused. It is in this climate that the Bridgnorth Hoard was buried and not recovered by its owner. Whilst it is tempting to speculate that the owner met an unpleasant death at the hands of imperial agents because of his or her supposed allegiance to the rebel regime, simply monetary policy might also explain its non-recovery. Eager to eliminate any vestige of the rebellion, the Magnentian coinage was rapidly removed from circulation, as evidenced by slightly later hoards of the fourth century which very rarely contain coins of the rebels. Whilst in part inspired by political reality, the removal of the Magnentian coinage from circulation was also part of a wider currency reform that took place around A.D. 354 and that removed the larger module coinage from circulation. Incredibly the legal text that authorized the demonetization of these denominations still survives today (CTh 9.23.1.), having been preserved in the later Codex Theodosianus compiled around A.D. 438

UK Treasure Act

Discovered in 2007 and promptly reported to the Local Finds Liaison Officer of the Portable Antiquities Scheme the hoard was legally processed under the UK 1996 Treasure Act. Following a coroner’s inquest the hoard was declared ‘treasure’ in terms of law and was examined and cataloged by the British Museum. The Treasure Trove Valuation Committee arrived at a far market value for the hoard. The British Museum and the local Shropshire County Museum then got to select items they wished to retain for their collections, the finder being financially compensated for these coins. The balance of the hoard was then returned to the finder who subsequently released it onto the market. York Coins Inc. has acquired over 1800 coins of the roughly 2000 released onto the open market. The coins have been legally imported into the United States with a UK / EU export license in place.

Sources, Further Reading and Web Links:

López-Sánchez, F & Abdy, R, Bridgnorth Hoard Official Report BM ref: 2007 T664, British Museum Report

Portable Antiquities and Treasure Annual Report 2007, Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, British Museum: http://finds.org.uk/documents/treasurereports/2007.pdf

Sutherland, C. H. V., The Roman Imperial Coinage, Volume VIII, 1981, Spink and Son Ltd, London.

De La Bédoyčre, G., Defying Rome, The Rebels of Roman Britain, 2003, Tempus, London.

Portable Antiquities Scheme website (information on the find): http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/199900

Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae (A.D. 353-78): http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/ammianus_01_intro.htm

The Theodosian Code (CTh): http://ancientrome.ru/ius/library/codex/theod/liber09.htm#23