Caratacus Gold Stater

Image copyright Chris Rudd
Image copyright Chris Rudd

It was only found in November last year by a metal detectorist and it turned out to be the first and only gold stater of Caratacus, British resistance fighter against the Romans. On Sunday (15th Nov 2020) it sold for… 80,000 pounds!! The most a British celtic coin has ever sold for.

Dr. John Sills says “The Caratacus stater is perhaps the most important single Iron Age coin ever found in this country being the only known gold coin of one of Britain’s greatest resistance leaders”It was probably minted at Calleva (Silchester in Hampshire) shortly before Claudius’ legions arrived in 43 CE.

Caratacus was the son of King Cunobelinus of the Catuvellauni. A prince with a romanized upbringing. He led the resistance to Aulus Plautius and the legions for 8 years until, in the north, Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes offered safe haven but then turned him over to the Romans. He was taken to Rome to be paraded in chains in the Triumph. He wasn’t killed but allowed to speak to the Senate where he made such an impression that he was pardoned. He lived on peacefully in Rome and declaimed “And can you, then, who have got such possessions and so many of them, still covet our poor huts?” or so says Dio Cassius.

Original auction listing on The Saleroom platform

Auction text by Chris Rudd >

Caratacus Warrior. c.AD40-43. Gold stater. 16mm. 5.35g. Ear of barley, [C]V to left, NO to right./ Naked warrior on stallion right, holding javelin and shield, CARAT around, beaded border. ABC−, VA−, BMC−, DK−, S−. CCI 20.0001 (this coin). Good VF, rich rose-gold, bold barley, crisp lettering, magnificent warrior. Found near Newbury, Berkshire, 2019. A superb example of a previously unknown and unpublished type. Of the highest rarity and possibly UNIQUE?     

In 2002 we sold the first recorded minim of Solidu. In 2006 the first silver unit of Inamn. In 2011 the first gold stater of Anarevitos. In 2012 the first bronze unit of Agr. In 2014 the first gold quarter stater of Dubn not in a museum. In 2016 the first gold stater of Sam. Now we have the good fortune to be selling the first known gold coin of Caratacus, Britain’s first famous freedom fighter and the best known member of Britain’s first famous royal family. David R.Sear, author of Roman Coins and their Values (RCV), regarded by many as the world’s foremost authority on ancient numismatics, says the Caratacus stater “must surely rank amongst the most exciting numismatic discoveries of the 21st century if not of all time” (pers.comm. 2.7.2020). We can be reasonably certain that wherever it goes, to a private collection or to a public institution, it will be – and will remain – one of the most important coins in their possession.