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Title: Numismatic data reconsidered: coin distributions and interpretation in studies of late Iron Age Britain
Authors: Leins, Ian
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Coins have played an important role in the construction of narratives and models of late Iron Age society in Britain. Distribution maps, in particular, have been employed to identify the supposed tribal structure of the island in the pre-Roman period, which is thought to have survived the Roman conquest to be preserved in the Roman civitas administration system. The continued prominence of the broad stylistic categories that structure all numismatic classifications, and which are often seen to support the projection of Romano-British civitates back into the pre-Roman period, has ensured that while archaeology has moved away from interpreting Iron Age Britain in terms of ‘tribes’ and dynastic kings, coins are often still interpreted in this way. In the twenty-two years since the publication of Van Arsdell’s Celtic Coinage of Britain (1989), the number of provenanced Iron Age coins has increased by almost seventy-five percent and the number of distinct types almost doubled. This thesis assembles a digital dataset comprised of 32,866 provenanced coins, adding dating and new classification information that allow it to be interrogated from geographical, chronological and typological perspectives using GIS software. The corpus of Iron Age coinage is now too vast to consider every coin at a contextual level, repeating the approach of Haselgrove (1987). Instead, this thesis has developed an alternative method of analysing the complete dataset, providing an overview of the national trends and patterns against which future localised, contextual studies can be compared. By analysing the data in this way it is possible to show that localised distribution patterns are often obscured by regional-stylistic or ‘tribal’ identifications. Some of these patterns are highly significant and allow the numismatic data to support non-tribal models of a regionally diverse and dynamic late Iron Age in Britain.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Historical Studies

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