Coinage of the Ancient Britons

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From The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, No. 358 Vol. XIII, No. 358., Saturday, February 28, 1829

Coinage of the Ancient Britons.

In 1749, a considerable number of gold coins were discovered on the top of Karnbre, in Cornwall, which are clearly proved to have belonged to the ancient Britons. The figures that were first stamped on the coins of all nations were those of oxen, horses, sheep, &c. It may, therefore, be concluded, that the coins of any country which have only the figures of cattle stamped on them, and perhaps of trees, representing the woods in which their cattle pastured,-were the most ancient coins of the country. Some of the gold coins found at Karnbre, and described by Dr. Borlase, are of this kind, and may be justly esteemed the most ancient of our British coins. Sovereigns soon became aware of the importance of money, and took the fabrication of it under their own direction, ordering their own heads to be impressed on one side of the coins, while the figure of some animal still continued to be stamped on the other. Of this kind are some of the Karnbre coins, with a royal head on one side, and a horse on the other. When the knowledge and use of letters were once introduced into any country, it would not be long before they appeared on its coins, expressing the names of the princes whose heads were stamped on them. This was a very great improvement in the art of coining, and gave an additional value to the money, by preserving the memories of princes, and giving light to history. Our British ancestors were acquainted with this improvement before they were subdued by the Romans, as several coins of ancient Britain have very plain and perfect inscriptions, and on that account merit particular attention.

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