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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 August, 2003, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Ancient forger's coin die found
Iron Age coins
The coin die was used to make Iron Age coins
An ancient British coin die - used to create the design on gold coins in the Iron Age - has been found in Hampshire.

The discovery near Alton is only the second time a pre-Roman or Celtic coin-die has been found in Britain.

It was uncovered by a member of the public who handed it over to local museums staff.

They sent it to the Curator for Iron Age Coins at the British Museum, who confirmed that the object was genuine, dating from about 100BC.

Early analysis of the die suggests that it may have been made by a forger producing imitation gold coins for his or her own purposes.

This find could help to unravel the mysteries of the earliest coins ever made in Britain
Museums boss Councillor John Waddington
The design engraved on the die is a galloping horse, a widely recognised symbol of wealth and power in ancient Britain, and a common motif on Celtic coins.

The type of gold coins made by the die - the Gallo-Belgic B - were found in south-east England and northern Gaul in France.

There were extensive trade and cultural links between the two areas before the Roman invasion of Britain in AD43.

Scholars have long believed that the Gallo-Belgic B coins were produced in Britain and not in France.

Museum experts say the discovery strengthens that view.

Hampshire's museums boss, Councillor John Waddington, said: "Our museums and archives service looks at thousands of objects every year as part of its identification service - but it is a rare occasion that we identify something of such international significance.

"This find could help to unravel the mysteries of the earliest coins ever made in Britain.

"We are delighted that our museums and archives service has played its part in the identification of the coin die and look forward to finding out more about its past."



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