Worden Hoard

Roman Coins from Worden, Lancashire

The Worden Hoard of Roman coins was found in 1850, on the outskirts of Leyland, and is, so far, the only evidence of Roman activity around the town.

The hoard, said to have consisted of 126 copper coins known as radiates, dates to the late third century AD, and contains coins minted on behalf of most of the many emperors who reigned between AD 259 and AD 282. The find was first published in 1883 by WT Watkin in his book, Roman Lancashire.

The coins came into the possession of the Preston Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge (16), the Vicar of Leyland (10), and Miss ffarington of Worden Hall (100). Subsequently, the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston acquired 108 of the coins.

The time in which these coins were minted was fraught for the Roman Empire, since the western provinces (including Britain) had temporarily rebelled from the central government in Rome. This rebel organisation was known as the 'Independent Empire of the Gauls' (AD 260-74). Surviving evidence shows that this was a bitter, sometimes violent, civil conflict. Like many coin hoards of this period, the Worden Hoard is dominated by issues of the 'Gallic rebels'. The rebellion was ended in AD 274 by the defeat of Tetricus I and his son, by the 'legitimatist' Emperor, Aurelian.

The reason(s) for the concealment and lack of recovery of these coins can only be guessed at. The second half of the third century was a disturbed period, as emperors tried to stabilise the Empire's finances, as well as its political and military fabric. is possible that their owner simply died, leaving his 'savings' concealed. Alternatively, inflation may have meant the coins became worthless, or, again, coins containing so many issues of the recently defeated rebels may have been regarded as in some way 'politically incorrect', perhaps leading to their informal demonetisation. Another explanation is that these groups of coins, which have generally been labelled as hoards, were not the property of a particular individual, but coins deposited in a ritual context.

This rare coin was minted on behalf of Marcus Aurelius Marius. Mystery surrounds his place in the history of the Gallic rebellion: some ancient writers suggest that he was a failed conspirator against the Emperor Postumus, whilst others say that he succeeded him. Some say that Marius reigned for only two or three days, although the fact that coinage bears his image argues against this. His reign was short-lived, though, and he may not have exercised complete control over all of the rebel territory.

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A selection of coins depicting Gallic rebels.

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The reverses of the coins of the Gallic rebels rarely show events, instead displaying deities, together with relevant mythological figures and personified 'virtues', which the emperor was thought to embody. These appear in male or female form but, in some very poor copies, deteriorate into 'matchstick' figures that lose most of their identifying characteristics.

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One of the latest coins in the hoard, a mint-condition coin of Probus, reigned AD 276-82.

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An earlier, heavily worn coin of Quintillus, reigned AD 270.

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The Tithe Map, showing the area in which the find was made.

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