Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Carausius Coin with Silly 'First Brexiteer' Narrativisation

A Hampshire metal detectorist ('only in it fer th' 'istry') is profiting from the sale of an artefact found on a club dig on a Roman site (Andrew Ross, 'Metal detectorist finds coin minted by 'first Brexiteer'...' Daily Echo 5th February 2018). It is a denarius of Carausius 287-293 AD HAMP-2E6A12.'Itchen Stoke and Ovington'
Richard Patterson from West End has unearthed only the second ever recorded coin minted by “the first Brexiteer”. Rebel Emperor Carausius ruled Britain for seven years when he rejected Roman rule and appointed himself leader of an independent Britain. Now the silver coin, found in a field near Winchester, is expected to fetch thousands when it goes under the hammer this month. Mr Patterson was out with the Hampshire Detector Club in November when his detector gave off a loud beep. Just inches beneath the surface he found the silver coin [...] “We had found a few bits of lead and that usually means there has been some action (sic) there. 
Yes, it most likely means he was on an archaeological site. It took him several hours of concentration to work out what it was. It is really difficult, lots of big words written all over it . Blimey, difficult, innit? On the flat side with the head on it sez: 'IMPCARAVSIVSPFAVG. Eh? Impcaer Avsivs Pfaug'? Eh? No wonder Mr Patterson had problems, there was no emperor Impcar Avsiv, ever. Must be rare! luckily someone came to his aid: 'But the next day someone saw something like it in a magazine that had sold for £17,000'. So that gave him a boost... He says:
It took me about four hours of searching to work out what it was. There’s hardly any information on Carausius or the coin. “I realised that it was a silver coin but I did not have a clue about what it is and how much it might be worth. “I went into shock when I found out. [...] But Mr Patterson will have to split his haul with the land-owning farmer. [...] Mr Patterson said he will use the cash to pay for a new car exhaust.
How much it is worth? I thought that lot were into the history and not the cash. Hmm. What on earth is this artefact hunter on about when he says there is 'not much information on Carausius or the coin'? Nonsense. They are called 'books' and there's a few on the life and times of Carausius (and historians have been interested in him for a long time, for example 'The history of Carausius; or, An examination of what has been advanced on the subject by Genebrier and Stukely...', Richard Gough 1762 ). Here are some more

There are not a few catalogues of his coins - like for example the classic Roman Imperial Coinage where he'll find RIC 591 which is the coin he found (the PAS database also has one  BUC-7A7BF7  and this one WILT-0FA13F and this one  BM-B49CF4 (= this one on Timeline Auctions). There are four on Wildwinds. The PAS record is silent on how many of this type were in the Frome Hoard. Dead loss that is. I think it is hardly true to say that the metal detectorist had found one of the two coins known, even of this type. Fake News. More fake news:
Head of coins at Dix Noonan Webb, where the coin will go up for auction Christopher Webb said: “Carausius has been largely ignored by historians but he was a truly extraordinary man. “As well as being a rebel who briefly won independence from European rule, he was also a showman who held what were effectively Britain’s first Olympic Games and introduced African lions to an astonished British public.” 
The newspaper proclaims Caurausius to have been the 'first brexiteer', but that would be ignoring Clodius Albinus (196-197 AD). But the carausian coin evidence really suggests something else anyway - the ruler is represented as the legitimate emperor who had come  (Adventus) to replace the others (to whom he offers 'Pax') and the most common reverse type is not anything to do with an independent 'Britannia', but Romulus and Remus. This is just vacant coin dealer spin, trying to bump up interest in a poorly struck and ill-centred example of this coin. Here is another popular text along the same lines:  Christopher Woolf, 'Britain’s first ‘Brexit’: 286 A.D. It didn't last long' PRI's The World June 23, 2016.

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