From my diary

The Christmas and New Year holiday season has been in full swing here, although the very unseasonably warm weather – 14C most days, and warm at night – has disguised this.  We’ve even had sunny days, such as today.

I’m spending this holiday quietly, as it is really the first holiday that I have had in 2015.  It’s really important to take your holidays, and not just work through them.

I’ve been doing a little light translating from Eutychius, and I may do some more.

Today I had some business in Norwich, and I took the opportunity to go into the Norwich Castle museum, and photograph all the items on display in the Roman gallery, using the camera on my mobile phone.   I had to stop when my hands grew shaky, but I think I got the lot.  The photos are not great – but they exist, and I have uploaded them to Flickr.

The majority of the items on display came from Venta Icenorum, modern Caistor St Edmunds.  They were found during the never-published excavations in the 1920’s.  Most of the rest came from hoards, discovered at one place or another.

One caught my eye:

Gold solidi, mainly of Honorius. Norwich Castle Museum
Gold solidi, mainly of Honorius. Norwich Castle Museum

It’s a collection of gold (and silver, according to the card) coins, mainly of Honorius, and was found in “South Norfolk” – a description that makes me think of the huge extant walls of the Roman fort at Burgh Castle.  Sadly the card did not indicate precisely what coins, and of what dates, we are looking at.

Is it possible that this is a donative, a collection of imperial solidi given to the soldiers at the accession of the new emperor?  Is this the property of some late Roman soldier, buried for some reason and then never reclaimed in the disorders that almost immediately followed?

Did that soldier march with one of the usurpers of the time?  Did he hear, when Stilicho removed most of the British troops in 402 AD?

In 409 AD the British rose in revolt and disgust and “expelled the Roman magistrates”, in Zosimus’ phrase.  Were those coins already in the ground then?

It’s worth making these speculations, not as history, but to bring before our mind that these are not just lumps of gold, but something that took part in momentous events, and belonged to a real man who saw them.

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