Gold coin in the name of Tincomarus

Late pre-Roman British Iron Age, late first century BC
Found at Alton, Hampshire, England

Spelling the king's name

In the later first century BC, the rulers of southern England began to put their names on the coins circulating in their kingdoms. These coins represent the earliest evidence of the use of writing in Britain. One of these kings, we now know, was called Tincomarus. His name is legible on the back of this coin. TINCO can be clearly seen above the horse, MA between the horse's legs and RVS running anti-clockwise in front of the horse's head. The name may mean something like 'Big Fish' in Ancient British (a variety of Celtic language) or Insular Celtic. He was the ruler over a kingdom centred on the modern counties of Hampshire and Sussex, where his coins have been found.

For over a hundred years, we thought that this man's name was Tincommius, like that of his father Commius, until the finding of two large hoards of gold coins at Alton, in Hampshire, in 1996, from which this coin comes. Its discovery allowed us to read King Tincomarus' name correctly for the first time in two thousand years.

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More information

Bibliography

R. Hobbs, British Iron Age coins in the (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)

P. de Jersey, Celtic coinage of Britain (Princes Risborough, Shire Archaeology, 1996)

C.E.A. Cheesman, 'Tincomarus Commi Filius', Britannia-3, 19 (1998), pp. 309-14

Dimensions

Diameter: 16.000 mm
Weight: 5.450 g

Museum number

CM 1996.10-22.50

NOT ON

Acquired with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the National Art Collections Fund and The British Museum Friends

Location

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