Celtic coinage

Celtic coinage

The first coins to be minted in Europe were by the Celts and by Philip II of Macedon. [ School of Archaeology, University of Oxford http://web.arch.ox.ac.uk/coins/cci8.htm] They were first minted in the 4th century B.C. and flourished around Europe for around 400 years. Traditional historians have tended to overlook the role played by Celtic coinage in the early history of British money. [Davies, Glyn. A history of money from ancient times to the present day, 3rd ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2002. 720 pages. Paperback: ISBN 0 7083 1717 0. Hardback: ISBN 0 7083 1773 1.]

The images found on these coins include giants trailing decapitated heads on rope, horsemen charging into battle, gods and goddesses, skulls and chariot wheels, thunderbolts and lightning, the sun and the moon. They are miniature masterpieces of surreal art.

The coins were either 'struck' or 'cast'. Both methods required a substantial degree of knowledge. Striking a blank coin formed in a clay was one way. After forming the blank, it would have been flattened out before striking with a die made from iron or bronze. The tiny details engraved on dies were just a few millimetres in diameter. Casting a coin required a different technique. They were produced by pouring molten alloy into a set of moulds which were broken apart when the metal had cooled.

The Boii tribe gave their name to Bohemia and Bologna; a celtic coin (Biatec) from Bratislava's mint is displayed on today's Slovak 5 crown coin.


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