- Museum number
Iron currency bar. Long, narrow, flat iron bar with slightly tapering blade. At top, sloping shoulders and a long rolled 'socket' with pinched end.
- Production date
- 100 BC - AD 1 (circa)
Length: 810 millimetres
Weight: 509 grammes
Thickness: 4.80 millimetres (bar)
Thickness: 13.20 millimetres (pinched end)
Width: 38.30 millimetres (max)
- Curator's comments
- Currency bars such as this may have been used as a form of trade iron in the middle to late Iron Age in southern Britain. Following his raids on south-east Britain in 55 and 54 BC, Caesar commented: "They use either gold or bronze coinage or, instead of coinage, iron bars weighed out precisely." (Caesar’s Gallic War, 5.12). Iron bars of standard weights have been found at many southern British sites. The rolled and pinched ends, which occur in a variety of different types, may signify different types of iron (e.g. high vs. low phosphorus). These features also served to show that the iron was high quality and could be smithed into complex forms. Richard Hingley (e.g. 1990, 2005) has argued that currency bars may have been intentionally deposited in liminal contexts such as enclosure ditches.
This currency bar is of the Danebury/HodHill type (see Crew 1994). About 500 are known, including several large hoards and many individual finds. Currency bars of this type are known from a variety of sites in south-central Britain. They are made from a high phosphorus, low carbon iron. They display tapering blades, with a variety of socket types (from long tubes with slack shoulders to short splayed tubes with wider shoulders). Typical measurements: 780-850 x 35-45 x 4-5mm; 450-700g.
Crew, P. (1994) Currency Bars in Britain, typology and function. In M Mangin (ed.) La sidérurgie ancienne de l 'Est de la France dans son contexte européen, Besançon, pp.345-350.
Hingley, R. (1990) Iron Age 'Currency Bars'; the archaeological and social
context. Archaeological Journal 147, pp.91-117.
Hingley, R. (2005) Iron Age 'currency bars' in Britain: Items of exchange in liminal contexts?. In Iron Age Coinage and Ritual Practice. Haselgrove, C. & Wigg-Wolf, D. Mainz am Rhein: Phillipp von Zaberg. Studien zu Fundmunzen der Antike.
- On display (G50/dc21)
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number