Iron Age gold coins discovered in Kimbolton

A HOARD of gold coins more than 2,000-years-old has been discovered in Kimbolton.

The 67 Iron Age coins were discovered by a metal detector in October last year but details of the find, described as significant by a curator at the British Museum, were only made public last week. The coins were subject to an inquest at Lawrence Court in Huntingdon on Thursday (September 29), where it was down to the deputy coroner of Cambridgeshire, Belinda Cheney, to determine if the hoard should be officially classified as treasure.

After their discovery, the coins were sent by a local finds liaison officer to the British Museum in London, where they were examined by the curator of Iron Age and Roman coins, Ian Leins. In his report to the inquest, Mr Leins expressed his opinion that the coins were treasure, as defined by the 1996 Treasure Act.

The inquest heard that the coins were discovered by Andrew Thomas, from Loughborough, in a field owned by John Williams, on October 26. The find included 67 gold coins known as staters, and a single quarter-stater coin.

After hearing the details of the find and noting Mr Leins report, Mrs Cheney declared: “It’s treasure!”

Mr Leins told The Hunts Post the coins were a significant find and explained that they were in circulation in 30-40BC – 50 to 60 years before the Roman invasion of Britain.

He added: “They are one of the earliest examples of money to be circulated on our island; they are right on the cusp of pre-history. Coins are one of the only pieces of evidence we have for this period of history.”

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The coins found in Kimbolton are described as South Ferriby type coins, after the town close to the Humber estuary where they were first found.

Mr Leins said: “Different areas at the time had different style coins. This sort of coin almost certainly comes from the Lincolnshire area; being found in Cambridgeshire is a little bit off where we would expect to find them. It’s right on the southern edge of where these coins circulated.”

He said that Iron Age coins are not common to find.

“We know of about 50,000 Iron Age coins which sounds a lot but we have been recording them for hundreds of years. In the last 15 years alone, we have found a quarter of a million Roman coins.”

He said that on average, one coin is expected to be found every day.

“It’s quite common to make a find, things are coming up all the time, but compared to medieval or Roman, Iron Age is pretty rare.”

Bob Burn-Murdoch, curator at the Norris Museum in St Ives, said: “It’s a remarkable thing to find anywhere in the country. Huntingdon is a very interesting area during the Iron Age, certainly towards the end. We were in a hostile area, between three warring tribes: the Iceni, from just across the Fens, the Catuvellauni, who were based in St Albans and were a large, expanding, prosperous tribe, and the Coritani. During periods of conflict, people would bury treasure for safe-keeping, such as a collection of coins.

“This is a very interesting find.”

Three further items, including a medieval silver-gilt bar mount and a post-medieval silver bodkin, both found in Kimbolton, and a post-medieval cufflink element discovered in Great and Little Chishill, were also declared to be treasure by Mrs Cheney, at inquests held on Friday (September 30).


Under English law a landowner has sole title to any archaeological artefacts found on their property but legitimate metal detectorists usually come to an agreement with the owners to share any proceeds from treasure sales.

Under the 1996 Treasure Act, treasure is:

• All coins from the same hoard. (A hoard is defined as two or more coins, as long as they are at least 300 years old when found). If they contain less than 10 per cent gold or silver there must be at least 10 in the hoard for it to qualify.

• Two or more prehistoric base metal objects in association with one another.

• Any individual (non-coin) find that is at least 300 years old and contains at least 10 per cent gold or silver.

• Objects substantially made from gold or silver but are less than 300 years old, that have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery and whose owners or heirs are unknown.