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Ancient British silver half unit of the Catuvellauni

By this time of year the number of fields available for detecting will be greatly reduced. Many will already have the green shoots of crops showing through and will be out-of-bounds until much later in 2022. Some lucky detectorists will still have sites to search but in winter the ground conditions can be poor. However, beggars can’t be choosers, so we have to take whatever is available.

Roger Paul said he had been having a barren period. Even the best of us have spells when nothing of note turns up but we keep at it in the hope that our bad luck will eventually turn good. Roger told me he had been trudging about in a field of very sticky mud when the coin pictured here turned up, which made his efforts worthwhile.

The coin is an Ancient British silver half unit of the Catuvellauni. It is only 0.60 of a gram in weight and 10mm in diameter but is shown greatly enlarged. On the obverse is a crossed wreath design with lyres in two angles and what look like stickmen in the other two. On the reverse is a horse facing left, with two lyres above it and below is a stylised corn ear.

In Ancient British Coins this half unit is described as the snakes and lyres type (number 2005) and is listed as being extremely rare. In the Standard Catalogue it falls under Early Uninscribed Coinage as number 54A.


The coin looks as it would grade close to good VF but has a noticeable striking crack and the edge is a bit irregular. It’s a real rarity and even with the defects a pre-sale auction estimate shouldn’t be any lower than £350 – £400.

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