Jerry Parker wrote:
> I have read recently that in pre- and early Roman Britain the Dumnonii of
> Devon had no coinage unlike the Durotriges and Dobunnii. Why was this?
Celtic coinage had at least two functions. The earliest coins were not
money in the sense that we understand the word today, but rather,
symbols of power that were given for military favours and political
affiliations. In that sense, they resemble mercenary payments, except
that lump sums were given to chieftains to supply troops. The money
was not paid to individual warriors. The practice started with Celtic
mercenaries hired by the Greeks in the 3rd century B.C. Most of the
coins were posthumous gold staters of Philip II, although the Ambiani
were paid originally with gold coins from Taras in Italy. This was
during the campaigns of the Macedonian king Antigonas Gonatas in that
part of Italy. This tradition spread to the neighbours of the tribes
that had served in Greek campaigns.
Later coins, from areas with emerging market economies, were used for
purchases. In Britain the Trinovantes had gold, silver, and bronze
coins. It was mainly the latter that were used for transactions. The
Atrebates did not use bronze coins in Britain, although they did in
Gaul. The need for small denominations was possibly met by the use of
minims, a quarter of the weight of the larger silver coins, although
most of the surviving silver coins are from a temple context.
The Durotriges, at a late date, had bronze coins. However, these coins
were at the end of a number of devaluations from their original white
gold staters, and probably served a similar function to the gold. Most
of the evidence suggests that these coins were not used by the general
populace for everyday purchases.
The Dobunni had gold and silver, but I doubt that the silver was used
in a market context. This tribe seems to have had some connections to
the Atrebates, and the use of coins possibly spread from that source.
No Celtic coins were used for trading between tribes: they are usually
found within their own tribal territory.
Outlying tribes such as the Dumnonii and the Brigantes never adopted
the use of coins. This had nothing really to do with their identity as
peoples, as the Parisii in France had coins, while the British branch
of that tribe did not. It was a custom that was spreading, but the end
of Celtic coins, of course, halted this.
I hope this answers your question.
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