Thu, 06 Dec 2018
RARE Iron Age coins are now on display at West Berkshire Museum as a new addition to its Hoards exhibition, which runs until August 2019. Known as Selsey Two-Faced staters, the coins feature unusual designs on both sides, including mysterious hidden faces that give the coins their name. Each of the eight coins shows a three-tailed horse on one face, with a wide variety of figures and symbols on the reverse including a charioteer’s arm, a chicken, and a stylised stalk of wheat or barley.
The collection of coins date from 60-50BC. Discovered in 2017 by a group of metal detectorists near Wokefield, West Berkshire, the coins were deemed treasure in accordance with the terms of the Treasure Act 1996. West Berkshire Museum acquired the coins with support from Art Fund, Wokefield Parish Counciland Mary Buxey, a former member of Newbury District Field Club, who was immensely interested in local history, as well as being an admirer of the museum.
The coins are a significant find as very little Iron Age material has been recorded in the tiny parish of Wokefield. Buried in 60-50BC for unknown reasons, the coins raise a number of questions – such as was the hoard buried because of troubled times or deposited for ritual purposes? With this as a starting point, the museum intends to explore the Iron Age heritage of West Berkshire through community engagement and education programmes.
West Berkshire heritage assistant at the museum Dawn Sellick said: “The gold staters are beautiful and intriguing and the museum is very grateful to the landowner and metal detectorists who discovered the coins. We also would like to thank Art Fund and Wokefield Parish Council for their generous support in purchasing these coins, so that they can be displayed and
appreciated by all the museum’s visitors.”
West Berkshire Council culture and libraries manager Paul James said: “Hoards are always deeply mysterious as we know nothing about who buried them or why. One thing which they tell us very clearly, though is about the valuable currency of the day, which begs the question: ‘What would we bury in a hurry and why?’”
The Hoards exhibition has brought together, for the first time, all the hoards in its collection, displayed behind peepholes as though still underground. Visitors can learn about hoards and treasure, which include tools as well as coins, and which date from as early as 1,200BC up until the 18th century. The newly-acquired staters are displayed with other Iron Age hoards.
The gold staters and the other hoards can be viewed during regular museum hours, Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-4pm.