Vision / Culture and communication / Heads and tails

Culture and communication

Heads and tails

This Iron Age coin is a gold stater dating to the first century BC and shows an image of a horse. It was issued by the Corieltauvi civitas or ‘tribe’ who lived in the East Midlands. The designs found on British Iron Age coins were influenced by those made by tribes on the continent which were themselves inspired by Greek coins. The distinctive Corieltauvian horse, seen here, made up of disjointed crescents, was influenced by the horses and chariots found on Greek coins.

Iron Age coins continue to provide us with important information about the period. For example, the ritual site at Hallaton in Leicestershire has produced one of the most important hoards, from this date, consisting of 5,296 Iron Age and Roman coins. Inscriptions on the coins included the Latin alphabet demonstrating influence of Roman culture on Iron Age communities at the time before the Roman Conquest in AD43.

Coins from all periods reveal so much about the past including economics, religion, technology, even changing Roman hair fashions. However, until recently, very little work had been undertaken on the museum collection and it remained unidentified, unused and badly stored.

Thanks to funding from Arts Council England, we employed Anja Rohde, a numismatist and alumni of the University, who trained student and community volunteers in how to identify and store the collections. We have also shared this knowledge on the British Museum Coins and Medals Subject Specialist Network Database.

"Coins from all periods reveal so much about the past including economics, religion, technology, even changing Roman hair fashions."
Dr Clare Pickersgill

Now we know more about the collection, we are building exhibition and learning programmes around it. The collection is also used for teaching and research with undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Our work with numismatic collections helped bring the British Museum’s Viking: Rediscover the Legend exhibition to the University museum last year. Thousands of visitors had an opportunity to see important Viking hoards from the British Museum and York Museums Trust displayed together for the first time.

The University of Nottingham is also the East Midlands centre for the British Museum Money and Medals Subject Specialist Network, and we train museum staff and volunteers from across the region.

Clare Pickersgill

Dr Clare Pickersgill is Keeper at the University of Nottingham Museum.

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