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Roman Coins from Flitwick

The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. A large quantity of Roman coins has been found in Flitwick over the years. In 1864 two copper alloy “medals” were found in Flitwick churchyard, these are likely to have been brass sestertii (there were four of these sestertii in a silver denarius). A sherd of Samian ware and a spindle whorl were also found [HER 3513].

A horde of 177 coins was found on Priestley Moor on 22nd January 1880 by workers digging a drain through the peat [HER 226]. All the coins were from the reign of Tetricus II, a usurper who ruled Gaul from 268 to 273. These coins would have been of a type called, by modern numismatists, antoniniani, though their denominational name is unknown. The antoninianus developed in the reign of Caracalla (211-217) and is thought to have been valued at two denarii. Gradually denarii disappeared and the antoniniani proliferated. The amount of silver in these coins gradually declined to no more than a thin silver wash, which soon came off with handling to reveal the copper alloy coin beneath. Their designs are often poorly executed, certainly when compared to the miniature works of art which are Roman coins of earlier periods. They were often struck locally rather than at official mints, and so were forgeries, these coins are usually known as “barbarous radiates”. Such a debasement of the coinage was the result of loss of silver mines to barbarian attacks and rampant inflation in the 3rd century, a period which nearly saw the end of the Roman empire before its recovery under Diocletian and the Tertrarchy from 284 onwards.

Seven Roman coins and a seal box were found by metal detecting [HER 18598]. The seal box dates from the 2nd or 3rd century. It is lozenge-shaped with rounded corners, with a hinge which would have been attached to a lid. The coins comprised:

  • A copper dupondius, so worn as to be indecipherable but the size shows its denomination. Dupondii of this size were issued from about 23 BC  into the 3rd century, being revived by the Gallic usurper Postumus (260-269) after having fallen into disuse for many years. Two dupondii made a sestertius;
  • A bronze dupondius of Antoninus Pius (138-161);
  • Two small bronze coins commemorating the founding of Constantinople and dating between 330 and 335;
  • Another small bronze coin dating between 330 and 335;
  • A small bronze coin of Constantius II (337-361) or Constans (337-350) dating between 343 and 348;
  • A small bronze coin of Gratian (367-383) dating between 378 and 383.

Some coins were found by metal detecting south of Ruxox Farm [HER 18935]. Also found were an iron nail, probably from a hob-nailed sandal and ten sherds of Roman pottery dating roughly between 125 and 250. The coins found were as follows:

  • Two illegible antoniniani from the mid-3rd century;
  • An antoninianus, probably of Gallic usurper Victorinus (268-270);
  • A small bronze coin, probably of the 4th century but illegible;
  • A small brinze coin of Constantine II (337-340);
  • A small bronze coin, probably of Constans.

No less than forty-two coins were found by one session of metal detecting in Flitwick [HER 18610]. They are as follows:

  • An illegible silver coin, possibly a denarius;
  • A silver denarius of Septimius Severus (193-211) dating to 197;
  • A silver denarius of Septimius Severus minted in 198;
  • Three mid third century barbarous radiates;
  • Eight illegible coins of anywhere from mid 3rd to late 4th century in date;
  • A copper coin of Claudius II Gothicus (268-270);
  • A barbarous radiate in the style of Claudius II Gothicus;
  • A radiate coin of either Victorinus or Tetricus I;
  • A barbarous radiate of Gallic usurper Tetricus I (271-274);
  • Two illegible barbarous radiates or 4th century coins;
  • An antoninianus of British usurper Allectus (293-296);
  • A small bronze coin of Constantius II struck under Constantine I (307-337) between 324 and 337;
  • A bronze coin commemorating the city of Rome struck in the reign of Constantine I or one of his sons;
  • An illegible small bronze coin probably struck by Constantine I or one of his sions;
  • A small copper coin of Constantius II minted at Trier in 347 or 348;
  • A small bronze coin, probably of Constantius II;
  • Two barbarous copies of coins of Constantius II;
  • An illegible bronze coin struck some time between 310 and 355;
  • A small copper coin of Julian (361-363) struck under Constantius II between 355 and 360;
  • Eleven  illegible late 4th century bronze coins;
  • An illegible late 4th or early 5th century bronze coin.
Two more Roman coins [HER 18669] were a denarius of Septimius Severus and denarius of either Caracalla or Elagabalus (218-222). Two Roman coins were found east of Ruxox Farm [HER 19711]. One of these was a sestertius of Trajan (98-117) and the other a small bronze coin of Constantine I dating between 307 and 318.