Diameter: 20.000 mm (aureus)
Purchased with the assistance of the
Coins and Medals
Roman, about AD
Found near Didcot, Oxfordshire, England
A rich Roman's savings?
Hoards of Roman coins are quite common in Britain - over 1200 have been reported to date. But hoards of Roman gold coins are extremely uncommon. Only a handful are known from the first two centuries of Roman rule. This hoard was buried about AD 160-169. We know this because the latest coin in the hoard dates to AD 160, the last year in the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius.
Gold coins were very much the preserve of the wealthier classes, as each one was worth a great deal. This hoard of 126 gold coins was equivalent to 10.5 years of a soldier's pay at the time they were buried. The rich would keep their savings in gold as it made it easier to transport large quantities of money in emergencies.
Who owned these coins, and how did they come to be buried in Oxfordshire? It is possible that the coins represent an 'accession donative', a free gift of money made by Antoninus Pius' successor, Marcus Aurelius (reigned AD 160-181), to senior officials in the civil and military administration when he came to power. It was probably buried for safe-keeping and not recovered because its owner died. Alternatively, it could have been left as a religious offering.
R.A. Abdy, Romano-British coin hoards (Princes Risborough, Shire Publications, 2002)
R. Duncan-Jones, Money and government in the Ro (Cambridge University Press, 1994)
R. Reece, Coinage in Roman Britain (London, Seaby, 1987)
P.J. Casey, Roman coinage in Britain (Princes Risborough, Shire Publications, 1980)