Base-silver radiate of Maximian

Roman, AD 284-94
Minted in Lyon, France

A lasting image of a Roman emperor

Roman coins stopped being used as official currency in Britain in the early fifth century, when Roman forces were withdrawn from Britain in order to protect Italy against barbarian invasion. However, late Roman coins must have continued to circulate in Britain, even after the invasion and settlement of the Anglo-Saxons. Roman bronze coins, often in very worn condition, are sometimes found in early Anglo-Saxon graves, and they may have continued to be used even after the Anglo-Saxons began to produce their own coins in around AD 600.

Roman coins certainly had a strong influence on Anglo-Saxon coin design. Although the Anglo-Saxons produced some original designs, and copied others from continental Europe, the majority are copied from Roman models. This is particularly true of the busts. There was no attempt at realistic portraiture, and very few Anglo-Saxon coins even show the ruler in contemporary clothes or head gear. Even as late as the eleventh century, most busts of English kings are clearly stylized Roman emperors. This coin, of the Maximian (reigned AD 286-305) shows the emperor wearing a helmet combined with a radiate crown. The same design is copied seven hundred years later, on the 'helmet' type penny of Ethelred II of England (AD 978-1016). Touch the animation button to the left to compare the coin of Maximian and Ethelred.

Find in the collection online

Base-silver radiate of Maximian

Radiate of Maximian, minted in France, AD 284-94


More information


P. Bastien, Le monnayage de latelier de Ly (Wetteren, 1972)

P.H. Webb, The Roman Imperial coinage-1 (London, 1933)


Diameter: 24.000 mm
Weight: 4.030 g

Museum number

CM 1950-10-6-965


Gift of E.S.L. Robinson


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore