Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Half a Denarii f’ me Bleedin’ Life Story?

A short announcement (before we get on). Unfortunately (or possibly 'fortunately' depending on how you look at it) this will be my last posting on this board for the time being. (Sounds of thunderous applause echoing down the streets.)
No, I haven't fallen out with anyone this time. (At least, I don't think I have.)
And, no, I haven't run out of history or stuff to tell you. (The day I run out of things to gab about will be the day that...well...somebody else manages to get a word in edgeways.)
The simple fact of the matter is, I just haven't got enough time for all this at the moment. Between excavations, writing reports on said excavations, refurbishing my fisherman's cottage from top to bottom, and various other time consuming adventures, I've run out of hours.
So, for the time being I'm on sabbatical, or as an old departed friend of mine would have had it: "On hiatus".
I'm not sure when I'll be back (might be weeks, might be years...but I will return, you can bank on that), but for now the forum is still open for business and, of course, you catch up with me (not to mention the rest of the Wyre Archaeology mob) at Wyrefield Farm every third Wednesday of the month, 7.15 p.m. onwards in the evening.
Enough...let's crack on with the designated post:

Some time ago we posted an article on this board concerning the number of Roman artefacts discovered around the Fylde and Wyre. The posting was designed more to put those misanthropic local anti-history buffs (who claim that the Romans never ventured into our neck of the woods) in their proper place, rather than as a serious attempt to catalogue the whole of our known Roman history.
Towards the end of the posting, however, we also mentioned that we didn’t have enough space left to include the ridiculous amount of Roman coins unearthed around the district over the last couple of centuries.
It’s time to fill that gap.
Let’s start with one of the best known of our local hoards. (I said ‘hoards’ before we get any libellous comments!)
On September the third 1926, at the back of Hackensall Hall, about five hundred coins were discovered in a virtually disintegrated leather purse beneath a rock. They consisted of Valerian I (A.D. 253 – 259), Valerian II, Gallienus and Salonina, running chronologically through Claudius II to Tetricus II (A.D. 271 – 273), three of which are shown in the photograph below...I think.


We might be about to get done for copyright infringement with that photograph. I’m hoping that it’s one Neil took when we went so see them, but I could be wrong.
Whatever the case, the hoard was probably buried around A.D. 275, a time of political upheaval when Britain had joined forces with a rebel movement against Rome known as the Independent Empire of Gauls. Several portraits on the Hackensall coins reflected this.
About four hundred of them are now housed by the British Museum, the Harris Museum, the Storey Institute in Lancaster and Liverpool City Museum.
When we visited Blackpool’s Grundy Art Gallery (which has, or at least did have until recently, its own little museum upstairs) the curators turned up another large portion of them, which was rather excellent, and which is where, I assume, the photograph above was taken.
On the other side of the river, sticking with rebel coins for the moment, John Davis-Allen of Wyre Archaeology informed us recently that a friend of his had been metal detecting around Stanah and had discovered another rare Roman coin showing the face of a rebel leader rather than that of the emperor. The coin was so freshly minted that, according to those in the know at the British Museum (or wherever it was that he sent it to be analysed), there was a probably a mint somewhere in the area.
This theory is borne out by the even more recent discovery by Gary Thornton (Wyre Archaeology Treasurer) of another freshly minted Roman coin in the same general area. (We’re not going to tell you where because you need permission to metal detect these fields, and just in case you’re thinking of risking it anyway, I ought to add that the law treats metal detectorists pillaging fields where they’re not supposed to be mercilessly, resulting in fines and confiscation of equipment…so you have been warned.)
Anyhow, we have also scan of that particular coin (with no potential copyright problems attached this time):


Again, because of its excellent condition, the experts reckon that the coin was minted within a few months of it being lost.
But enough about that, let’s move on to our second hoard, almost as well known as the Hackensall coins.
Charles Preston and John Fairclough discovered this collection of coins on Preesall Hill in 1934 when they were opening up the sand quarry. As Fairclough recalled in the ‘Over Wyre Historical Journals’:

We had quarried back about forty yards from the entrance and had removed the turf and soil to a depth of approximately ten inches. At this depth I picked up the first coin.

Obviously, after realising that the coin was Roman, both men suddenly found a new and amplified interest in their otherwise boring job and had soon uncovered a further twenty-two coins.
The sand, incidentally, was later used to create the bowling greens at the Marine Hall in Fleetwood. We’re saying nothing.
At this point we were going to include a photograph of the sandpit on Preesall Hill, but, true to form, we couldn’t find one. (We have got one somewhere, we just don’t know where unfortunately.) So, how about a general photograph of the view from Preesall Hill itself, copyright Juliette Gregson, who took this image at the same time we took the one of the sandpit but who had the foresight to store her photographs on the Internet, unlike us?


Up river to Poulton now and there’s always been a certain amount of speculation that St Chad’s church was originally a Roman fortlet. The Danes Pad appears to have run close by and a ditch originally surrounded the churchyard.
Adding to the speculation, William Thornber (the Victorian Antiquarian) recalled two copper coins from the time of Hadrian being found close by.
In the same vicinity (and still on line with the legendary Danes Pad) in September of 1852 at the railway station on the Breck another coin, this time a Domitian, was unearthed. (At that period, we perhaps ought to point out, the station was situated at the bottom of the hill opposite, what is nowadays, the Civic Centre.)
A quick turn around and back up to Fleetwood for our next find, which is mentioned in Philip Graystone’s book ‘Walking Roman Roads in the Fylde and the Ribble Valley’. This time the discovery was of two Nero coins (54 A.D. to 68 A.D.) and one coin of Augustus (27 B.C. to 14 A.D.).
And, in 1968 at Leyburn Avenue, a bronze coin dated to 22 B.C. emerged from somebody’s back garden.
According to David Shotter of Lancaster University, in 1991 another Roman coin, this time a Nero dupondius dated to A.D. 64, was unearthed in the same general area.
Then there’s the coin that was found umpty-tumpty years ago in a garden on Fleetwood Road. (We’ve got a newspaper article about it somewhere…back in the 30s I think it was found…which, predictably we’ve misplaced right at the moment.)
According to an article by Terry Statham in ‘Treasure Hunting’ magazine:

…we have a record of a hoard of coins being found when the old Mount Pavilion was replaced in 1902.

(We mention this article in particular because our ‘History of the Wyre’ book receives a mention in it, along with Wyre Archaeology, which is always good.)
Sticking with the Fleetwood Peninsula, it’s time for another whacking great hoard…possibly two.
In 1840 almost 400 Roman denarii were discovered by workmen in a brickfield belonging to Mr Walmsley between Rossall Point and Fenny. According to Thornber the hoard consisted of Vespasian Titus, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Sabina, Antonius Pious, Faustina and numerous others. About forty of them ended up in Thornber’s hands and the rest became the property of Peter Hesketh (founder of Fleetwood). After Hesketh declared himself bankrupt the coins were sold to Alderman Brown whose son donated them to the Harris Museum in Preston.
Henry Fishwick, author of ‘The History of Poulton-le-Fylde’ published in 1885, noticed that the coins donated to the Harris bore no resemblance to those recorded by Thornber. In fact Thornber hadn’t even mentioned the Flavius Victor and Eugenius coins that the Harris had catalogued, which was highly unusual as such coins are extremely rare.
In 1887, however, W. Thompson Watkin also wrote about the discrepancy, reaching the conclusion that:

“...two hoards were found at the same place, one of the Higher, the other of the Lower Empire.

Naturally we went to see the coins in the Harris, which were all brought out to us in sealed trays that, by the time they’d finished, had created a toppling tower on the desk.
We didn’t photograph them. We thought it best if they just put them back again and left it at that. Instead here’s an Ordnance Survey map (copyright infringement almost absolutely certain here) showing where they were found.



That’s under the golf course nowadays, so if you’re going to go out digging don’t say we haven’t warned you about the consequences.
Right, let’s not forget Blackpool in this lot (as if we could).
Just south of the Pleasure Beach, in 1907, at the junction of Clifton Drive and Burlington Road West (albeit before those roads existed) a Roman coin horde was discovered buried in the sand dunes. Alongside the coins, as marked on the 1911 Ordnance Survey map, were the remains of a building.
Three of the coins (nobody ever bothered to record exactly how many were excavated so they might represent the entire horde) are, once again, housed at the Grundy Art Gallery where, if you’re very polite, the curators will dig them out for you to have a look at. They’re a bit on the small side, which was why we drew the following picture of them rather than take a photograph (because our camera’s not very clever when it comes to macro shots).


Allen Clarke mentions them in his ‘Story of Blackpool’ in the following manner:

These are three specimens of Roman Coins, now preserved in the Museum at Revoe Library, discovered in the Blackpool district. They are each three quarters of an inch in diameter and one eighth of an inch thick. They were struck at Alexandria, the first two during the reign of Gallienus (A.D. 259), and the third during the reign of Claudius II (A.D. 268)

Unfortunately, archaeology being low on the political agenda in Victorian Blackpool, to the best of our knowledge no record of the wall against which they were buried was ever made, other than the few lines on the Ordnance Survey.
Clarke also mentions that a certain Mr. Willacy also discovered two coins of the Emperor Adrian at the ruins of the fortress at Dowbridge.
Michelle decided to check through some old back issues of the Evening Gazette (courtesy of Phil Barker – Master Butcher) to see what other Roman coins might have come to light and soon discovered the following reader’s letter:

Dear Seasider,

I have read about the old coins that have been found, and have just looked up two old ones that were found on the Blackpool cliffs. An expert on these matters told me the copper coin was minted between 17 B.C. and 25 A.D. during the reign of Augustus. The Bronze coin is of Julius Caesar period and both are in very fair condition.

And in the Evening Gazette dated Tuesday the 10th of August 1937 we find the following:


An interesting find of a roman coin has been made at South Shore. Mr E. Creed of Horncliffe Road, whilst hoeing potatoes in his garden, turned up an ancient silver coin, proved to be a denarius of Julius Caesar, of the date 44 B.C. Parts of the coin are worn, but it is possible to decipher some of the letters and the design on it.

And so on and so forth. I’m sure you’re starting to get the idea now.
Obviously this little lot doesn’t collate every single Roman coin ever found in the district, but the more mathematically inclined amongst our readers will have already worked out that we’re into the thousands by now, so perhaps it’s time we brought the article to a close.

51 comments:

frank said...

You have a pic of the sandpit on the Preesall topic on the forum

Brian Hughes said...

Frank,

So that's where I put it. I knew there was one about somewhere.

Jayne said...

Those rebel coins are very crisp and new looking!

Good luck with everything.

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

You get the impression they didn't see much use.

Anonymous said...

As a silent observer over the last year, thanks for your articles. I will particularly miss the comments in brackets (even when they are not needed).

Enjoy your sabbatical.

Ozfemme said...

hope you come back soon. all the best. all the best to your trowels and bacon butties.

Brian Hughes said...

Anonymous and Bella,

I'll be back as soon as I've finished putting my house back together. What started as an innocent pot of paint to do up the living room skirting board about a month ago has turned into a massive, time consuming rebuild of the whole place. (Damn those evil DIY pedlars at Dulux!)

frank said...

It's the curse of those famous words- 'of course it will be all finnished before Christmas'

Brian Hughes said...

Frank,

At this rate, it'll be me what's finished before Christmas.

Marshall-Stacks said...

I'm thinking about that rebellious guy with 500 rebel deeners* in his purse - (thinks) 'here come some nasty guys who'll do me for being on the rebel team - I'll just stick my incriminating purse under this rock and get it after the dust settles'.
and they did him alright and the purse stayed there for centuries.
* deener is Old Aussie slang for 10p

re
"That’s under the golf course nowadays, so if you’re going to go out digging don’t say we haven’t warned you about the consequences".
Archaeologists probably make wild golfers, so pay for a round and start excavating with 9-irons n stuff, as in "whoops! another Really Big Divot - oh is that a coin in it? etc.

Good luck with the refurb - start under the floorboards and here's hoping there's a purse.

Brian Hughes said...

"Archaeologists probably make wild golfers, so pay for a round and start excavating with 9-irons n stuff..."

Annie,

Archaeologists can't afford to join golf clubs. And even if they could, I strongly suspect they wouldn't want to.

Anonymous said...

Hi and looks like bye Brian. Just as I was returning to the fold for a winter lock in. I had high tea with the one and only Decimus Burton (lokkand sound alike Dick Gillingham) last week at the museum with dainty tea cups and dodgy dainty cake racks, twas brilliant as we were served by Edwardian waitress. Anyway we had a guided tour of Fleetwood and its cottages. Were you the guy peeping through nets in the fisherman's cottage? It was freezing and raining and I was given refuge in a house on Queens terrace. Back to your old coins (I found a bit of an old coin once in Staining whilst digging a veg patch)
I have just won runner up for the prestigious Super Senior Citizen Award for volunteering and feel decidedly dodgy now. Shirley xx (best to Michelle, you both missed out on a yummy buffet at the library last week) Don't leave your post for too long.

Brian Hughes said...

Hi Shirley.

"Were you the guy peeping through nets in the fisherman's cottage?"

If he was surrounded by stray cats, and wearing an expression that read, "Help...I'm buried beneath an avalanche of extensive renovations", then probably, yes.

"I had high tea with the one and only Decimus Burton (look and sound alike Dick Gillingham) last week..."

That wouldn't be the same Dick Gillingham who used to be teacher at Monty, would it?

"Don't leave your post for too long."

Don't worry. My cottage is in a bit of a post-apocalyptic state at the moment, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It's probably an oncoming train, but it is there. Will be knuckling down to some more hard research and stuff before you can say boo to an extremely timid goose.

By the way, did Phil get in touch with you about the republication of 'The History of the Blackpool Lifeboat' book yet? He's done a reet grand job on it and your grandfather would have been proud.

Anonymous said...

No Phil didn't but I am so glad he has. Shirley (I am stuck doing some academic research as per usual)

Jayne said...

That house in the photo, last on thr right, red brick?
That wouldn't be a B&B by any chance?

Brian Hughes said...

Shirley,

I'm sure he will as soon as he gets the chance. (He said he had a free copy for you, but he's been a bit busy of late what with one thing and another.)

Jayne,

I very much doubt it. Looks more like a farmhouse to me. I'm sure there's a B&B in nearby Knott End if you're looking for somewhere to stay, though.

Jayne said...

No, was just curious as there's 3 similar houses together, thought they may have been a pub or a B&B or some such Midsomer Murders Appreciation Society all grouped together.

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

For some reason they tend to build them like that round these parts. It's something oddly Lancastrian I think. Just the occasional Victorian terrace in the middle of nowhere, almost as though somebody was expecting a town to grow up around them but it failed to materialise.

They always remind me of the late Queen mother's teeth for some unknown reason...

Jayne said...

Tuck pointed brick work?
Dawn French said in her autobiography that Her Royal Dentures were quite frightening to behold....

Brian Hughes said...

They were dentures? Who made 'em? Thomas Chippendale?

Sue in Spain said...

Come back soon!! I always enjoyed reading your articles :)- besides, you´re probably a much better antiquarian than a decorator.

Jayne said...

I think Amy Whinehouse has been using the Queen mum's toothy-pegs of late.
And Prince Phillip is, according to news reports, crawling about on the floor to record shows and change tv channels....

Brian Hughes said...

Sue,

Archaeology/antiquarianism's easy. I just have to sit in my chair and order people about. Decorating's far more strenuous. As a result I've pulled a muscle in my shoulder now.

Jayne,

The D of E was probably hunting for a twenty-pence piece that he'd seen one of his butlers drop.

Jayne said...

Twenty-pence piece?
Brian, do you think they'd drop their whole weeks' pay like that?!

Brian Hughes said...

Apparently they frequently do...especially when Charles in the shower.

Jayne said...

LOL
I read that first as "when Charles is in the tower" and was wondering who had locked him up!

Brian Hughes said...

That 'ud be 'er majesty, in an attempt to keep 'im out of trouble.

Jayne said...

...and then Camilla let him out to run amok....

Brian Hughes said...

Ah, Camilla. I'm sure I spotted her at Ascot a couple of years back. I thought she fell at Beecher's Brook and had to be shot, but I must have been mistaken.

Jayne said...

Now there's one that Uncle Ben pet foods would reject.

Brian Hughes said...

Although McDonald's would probably buy it. (Law suit pending. I really shouldn't write things like that. Still...blood and stones and all that stuff.)

Jayne said...

Mz Zara is winging her way to our Spring Racing Carnival, apparently.
Wanna bolt that stable door, Brian...?

LaLa said...

Hi Brian. Sure do miss your brand of funny. How've you been??

LaLa said...

Hahaha, Camilla knows she looks a hot mess, her and Charles just had too much fugly for one couple!

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

It should have been bolted before they let Anne and Mark inside with their riding crops, I reckon.

Lala,


"How've you been??"

Busy, as always.

"...her and Charles just had too much fugly for one couple!"

Shorts on genes, even shorter on chins, so they have to make up for it somehow I suppose.

Jayne said...

Annes home was a former mental asylum.
I rest my case :P

Brian Hughes said...

What do you mean...'former'?

Lord Sedgwick said...

Good luck with the tunneling out of Stalag Guantanamo 4b.

See you, Alec Guinness, Kenneth More, Trevor Howard, Davy Niven and the other chaps on the other side.

Brian Hughes said...

Terence,

Tunnelling out of the Tower of London should be easy once we've made an adequate shovel from the ravens' beaks. We'll just have to make sure that we make the proper records when we hit the corpses of the two princes hidden away under the doorstep.

Jayne said...

Can we ship Babs Windsor in to you for some light entertainment?
Promise not to mix her up with those other Windsors, but you know how couriers mis-read handwriting these days...

Brian Hughes said...

"Can we ship Babs Windsor in to you for some light entertainment?"

Having watching the reruns of 'Carry On Laughing' on digital telly recently, I'd rather you didn't.

Jayne said...

Oh, no, I was thinking more the current-day Babs, you know, from that soapie thingie series where she's pulling pints and dodgy geezers...

OT -
Melbourne Museum is doing an archaeology dig on their own grounds

Brian Hughes said...

A 19th century garden? I don't think my own garden has been tended since the 19th century. If I send the Australian government some snapshots of the layout, do you reckon they'll send me a share of that five and a half million quid?

Jayne said...

Certainly they will, Brian!
Right after they've cancelled wasting $40 million on that bloody useless Big Dick(Grand Prix) that nobody wants!

Brian Hughes said...

Big Dicks (plural) surely?

Jayne said...

Oh no, we only call our govt by their formal title...Big Heap 'o' Toxic Waste and The Oxygen Thieves.

Brian Hughes said...

Big Heap 'o' Toxic Waste? Isn't he related to Chief Spitting Bull?

Jayne said...

Half brothers through their father Who Flung Dung.

Marshall-Stacks said...

Hi Bri - what are they digging up on Bosworth Field?
I know you know.
mwah mwah

Brian Hughes said...

Annie,

Hopefully more than we're digging up at the moment.

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