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Roman coin find in Orkney thrills archaeologists

Archaeologists are thrilled by the discovery of a Roman coin during the excavation of an archaeological site in Orkney.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
18th July 2017ce

Comments (4)

"Archaeologists said the works of classical writers suggested the Romans were aware of Orkney, with the writers even making claims of an invasion, although archaeologists and historians believe this to have been unlikely."

Pytheas sailed around Orkney in 325BC and called the islands the "Orcas".
Pomponius Mela referred to them as the "Orcades" in the 1st Century AD.
Orosius wrote that representatives of the King of Orkney travelled South to Southern England to meet Emperor Claudius in 43AD in a diplomatic effort to avoid war. Tacitus in his "Agricola" referred to Agricola sending his fleet round the tip of Britain to try and complete the victory over the Northern Picts after Mons Graupius in AD 84 and that Agricola's fleet "discovered and subjugated the Orcades hitherto unknown". Ptolemy in around 140AD referred to Orkas off the Northern tip of Britain. He even gave the number of islands. On this voyage he mentions that North of the Orcades they sighted Thule - which some people take to be Shetland and the Ultima Thule of the Greeks.
Roman amphora from pre-60AD found in Orkney and Shetland. Roman trade goods found in Orkney, Shetland and across the Hebrides. There is little doubt the Romans (and some before them) were aware of the Orkneys, Shetland and Scotland's Northern Isles and Hebrides.
The question of invasion... nah... mibbe... cannae see the point... probably just stopped the fleet off to top up their water and trade some wine for Walrus Ivory.
Howburn Digger Posted by Howburn Digger
18th July 2017ce
And loads of coins in the Uists! drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
18th July 2017ce
It doesn't have to have been dropped by a Roman though, does it? I mean I've got coins on the mantelpiece from Holland, Hungary, Denmark. It might be something picked up by a trader wherever in the empire and dropped accidentally or given to somebody there as an Interesting Thing? Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th July 2017ce
Oh yes! Interesting things! There have been many instances of Roman Coins found in much later Anglo Saxon graves down in England. The bullion value of a gold or silver coin traded was recognised for a far longer period than Antoninus or Alexander or whoever's face was punched into them.
The re-use of interesting things Roman is regularly found in Scotland. Although not always coinage... just about anything really... a number of the cists in the cemetery at Parkview close by the City Bypass outside Edinburgh are constructed from re-used roman voussoirs (wedge-shaped dressed masonry used to build arches) which were robbed from the Roman Bath House close tp Elginhaugh Bridge at Dalkeith.
The roof of the soutterain at Crichton has the Pegasus emblem of the Legio II Augusta carved into it. The rest of the magnificent soutterain is constructed of dozens of pieces of crisply dressed Roman Stonework robbed from a military post near Pathhead.
Back to the metalwork... the massive precious metal hoard found at Traprain Law was of gorgeous and elaborate Roman workmanship. Wrought Silver and gilded goblets, jugs, cutlery, ewers etc. All chopped up into strips as bullion!
Howburn Digger Posted by Howburn Digger
24th July 2017ce
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