Press Releases

Treasure found on Anglesey

A hoard of Iron Age gold coins was declared treasure on Wednesday 9th August 2023 by HM Senior Coroner for North West Wales, Kate Robertson. 

The coin hoard (Treasure Case 21.29) comprising fifteen gold coins known as staters was discovered in Llangoed Community, Anglesey between July 2021 and March 2022 by metal detectorists Peter Cockton, Lloyd Roberts and Tim Watson, who reported the find to the Portable Antiquities Scheme. This is the first hoard of Iron Age gold coins to have been discovered in Wales.

The coins were discovered scattered across the corner of a field. Lloyd Roberts, who found the first two coins in the hoard, said:

“Having been searching for history for over 14 years, finding a gold stater was always number one on my wish list. Having never expected to actually find one, let alone in Anglesey, can you imagine my shock, delight and surprise as I called out to my friend Peter, having dug up a beautiful full gold stater in mint condition?! That one coin alone would have made my year, but I went on to find another on my next signal, and then Peter found a total of three. After contacting the Portable Antiquities Scheme, we both just sat on the spot, had a coffee and imagined what our surroundings and people’s lives were like over 2000 years ago! We were delighted to discover that this was the first hoard of Iron Age gold coins ever found in Wales, and we’re pleased that they will be on display at a museum for all to share the joy with Peter and me.”

Tim Watson, who found the remaining ten coins, said:

“I’m relatively new to metal detecting and was encouraged to give it a go by my dad during lockdown. I’d been over this field a few times and not found much of interest and then one evening literally struck gold! I rushed home to show my wife and we were both in awe of this coin, which was like nothing else I had found, immaculately preserved with such unusual stylised images. Enthused, I decided to upgrade my metal detector, which was money well spent, as I proceeded to find another 9 coins in the same area in the following weeks. I’m really looking forward to seeing them all together in the museum, as I only had a small number in my possession at any one time.”

After more coins came to light, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust visited the findspot with Mr Watson and the landowner Gwyn Jones in September 2021 to see if any archaeological features were visible on the surface, which might have given clues as to why the coins were buried. Sean Derby, Historic Environment Record Archaeologist and PAS Cymru Finds Recording Officer at Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, said:

“This hoard is a fantastic example of the rich archaeological landscape that exists in North-West Wales. While the immediate vicinity of the find did not yield any clues as to the find’s origin, the findspot lies in an area of known prehistoric and early Roman activity and helps increase our understanding of this region. I’m very grateful to the finder and landowner for reporting the finds and allowing us to visit the site.”

The coins were struck between 60 BC and 20 BC at three different mints across what is now Lincolnshire. They are attributed to the Corieltavi tribe, who inhabited the geographical area of the modern East Midlands during the late Iron Age. 

The design of each of the coins is very stylised, derived from Macedonian gold coins of Phillip II, which show the bust of Apollo on the obverse (heads side) and a two-horsed chariot and charioteer on the reverse (tails side). The obverse of these staters shows Apollo’s wreath and hair, while the reverse shows a stylised triangular-headed horse with various symbols surrounding it. These symbols are the key distinguishing features for separating the coins into their different types.

The Iron Age tribes inhabiting modern Wales did not make their own coins and rarely used other tribes’ coins, so coin finds are rare in Wales from this period. Iron Age coins are rarely found on pre-Roman settlement sites in Britain. They were probably not used for everyday transactions in the way that we use coins today. Instead, they are thought to have been used as gifts between elites to secure alliances or loyalty or as votive offerings to the gods, although in some cases they may have been used for high value purchases. Commerce, politics and religion were inextricably linked. This hoard may therefore have been buried for one or multiple reasons. Pagan priests known as druids feature in Roman sources referring to Anglesey, and archaeological finds, such as the votive deposit at Llyn Cerrig Bach, indicate that the island was an important religious centre during the 1st centuries BC and AD. The apparent holy nature of the island is likely to have played a role in the deposition. Additionally, Parys Mountain on Anglesey and the nearby Great Orme were sources of copper, so these coins may have formed part of an exchange of by the Corieltavi in exchange for copper.

Oriel Môn in Anglesey is interested in acquiring this coin hoard, following their independent valuation by the Treasure Valuation Committee. Ian Jones, Building and Collections Manager at Oriel Môn, said:

“This local discovery is thrilling news for Oriel Môn. The coins are of national importance and we are excited about acquiring them for Anglesey’s museum collection and to put them on public display.”

Amgueddfa Cymru belongs to everyone and is here for everyone to use. We are a charity and a family of seven national museums and a collections centre, located across the country. Our aim is to inspire everyone through Wales’ story, at our museums, in communities and digitally.   Our welcome is free thanks to funding from the Welsh Government and extends to people from all communities.  Play your part in Wales’ story: by visiting, volunteering, by joining, by donating.