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general they bear on the face a regal bust, with an inscription; and waarhe reverse an emblematical device, accompanied also by a legend. In shape they are round, and sometimes flat, but often disked, or concave on one side and convex on the other.
The costume of the ancient British kings, as to their diadem; a portion of attire; and instruments of war and command; is curiously exhibited by their coins. The reverse of those which are of the rudest mintage, often presents an indistinct mass of small implements, or ornaments, unknown as to real - name and use. But in the more refined, a mixture of allusions to Roman manners is frequently perceptible. On the reverse of such, are often seen the Janus, the Sphinx, (the favourite device of Augustus,) the Centaur, and the Pegasus. From the occurrence of these figures, it is satisfactorily argued, that the art of minting was introduced to Britain by practitioners from the Roman continent. In confirmation of this opinion it may be oba serveil, that some of the inscriptions are latinized ; and the Roman alphabet is used in the legends of all.
The coins of Cunobeline, who is supposed to be the first British sovereign that established a mint, are the most curious, as well as the most numerous, that have been discovered; and have consequently attracted the greatest share of antiquarian notice.These coins are of gold, silver, and brass or copper; with an alloy of lead or tin. They are all circular, and most have a slight convexity of form.
The style of execution, though far from elegant, is still respectable. On the obverse of many is seen the head of the king, - under whose auspices the coins were issued. Others have, on the face or obverse, various emblematical devices, as a horse (the animal most valued by the Britons, from its useful qualities in war, and likewise a symbol of the sun, a British Deity;) the two faced Janus, supposed to allude to the increasing civilization of the country; a griffin; and an ear of corn.-On the reverse part of the same coins is presented a great variety of symbolical designs, as a winged female figure, supposed to be Victory; a pegasus; horses in various modes of action, and with many albusive accompaniinents (that of a band sustaiving a truncheoir being one;) Apollo playing on the harp; a hog and a tree; a workman coining money, several pieces of which appear on the ground.
The legend, or inscription, presents the name of the king, Cunobeline, variously spelt and in dissimilar modes of abbreviation, together with the Roman letters CAMV. CAM. (the place at which the coin was minted, Camulodunum) VER. (Verulamium;) and NOVANIT, or NO. NOVANE, and NOVA. (supposed to signify the capital of the Trinovantes.)
In addition to the above abbreviated words, the British coins, and especially those of Cunobeline, often present an inscription which has given rise to much antiquarian discussion. This is the word TASC, or TASCIO, sometimes written with a varia. tion in the last syllable, but uniformly similar in the first, except in one instance, where it is thus spelt, TACIO.
It is not desirable to enter on an investigation of the respective opinions of the different writers, who have deemed the probable meaning of this word deserving of laborious enquiry. The conjectures of two may suffice; the first a professed numismatic essayist, and the latter an antiquarian critic of no ordinary attainments. Mr. Pegge * supposes that the word is the nominal designation, either personal or national, of the Roman-gallic mint master under whose direction the coins were produced: but Mr. Whitaker + observes “that the word occurs too frequently to be that of a mere mint master, however honoured;" and he considers it to be nothing more than the British and official appellation of the king whose coins exhibit the inscription, and to signify only the Leader.” In pursuit of this idea, he examines into the presumed source of the word, and remarks that “ Tus, Tuis, Tos, and Tuschich mean the beginning, or hiead, of any
• Essay on the coins of Cunobeline, &c.
thing, in the Irish language; and that I'uiseach, and Taoiseach, are the Irish appellatives for a commander, to this day.” From the latter word he imagines the Tasc of the British coins to proceed. If this mode of explanation be accepted, the Tasc of the British answers to the Rex of the Latin inscriptions.
It is quite impossible to form, at this period, a satisfactory estimate of the quantity of money in circulation, while the privilege of coining was possessed by the native princes; but, from the numerous pieces, of a dissimilar mintage, issued by Cunobe, line alone, it is probable that the amount was far from inconsiderable. The comparatively small quantity discoverable in subsequent remote ages, is no proof of an original deficiency, as the circulation of money issued by British princes was severely prohibited by the Romans, after they gained an ascendant in the island.
The subject of British coins has been treated with some contempt, by an able numismatic writer;* and, assuredly, the study of them is less captivating than that of the medals of nations inore brilliant in exploit, and favoured more largely with the notice of historians. Still, it is capable of affording rational satis. faction to the investigator of statistics, and to the antiquary.-The authenticity of the greater number of the coins ascribed to the Britons is unquestionable. Many have been found among monuments decidedly British; and, in legend and symbolical embellishment, they plainly evince their original.f As evidences of the progressive data of the arts among the ancient inhabitauts of Britain, they are truly valuable; and they are curious, from the circumstance of exhibiting, in unequivocal outlines, many partiF 2
• Mr. Clarke, in a letter to Mr. Bowyer, quoted by Gough, in a note to Conjectures on British coins, in the Britannia.
+ Specimens of British coins, exhibiting a great variety of impressions, are engraved in Speed; in Camden's Britannia (a corrected plaie being intro. duced in Mr. Gough's edition ;) in Borlase's Antiq. of Cornwall; in Mr. (afterwards Dr ) Pegge's Essay on the “coins of Cunobeline,” &c.
culars of the costume of a people, whose manners are little known, and have been too often misrepresented by such superficial historians, as have neglected to unite the researches of the antiquary with the common place task of collating lettered authorities.
CIRCLES COMPOSED OF Stones.- In several parts of Eng. land; in nearly every division of Wales; in Scotland; and in many other parts of the British islands; are to be seen circles of unwrought, upright stones, which are commonly recognised under the name of Druidical Temples.* These curious vestiges of antiquity are usually found on spots naturally elevated; and one structure often consists of several circles, either concentric, lateral, or in some other mode of disposal indicating an attention to mathematical regularity of arrangement. Similar monuments with those of Britain, and equally void of appropriation in the page of history, are to be seen in Iceland, Norway, Scandinavia, and various parts of Germany. In Sweden, Denmark, and the Western Isles, circles of stone are also frequent.
Amongst other arguments for the great antiquity of these monuments in Britain, it is observed, that in some instances they are crossed and injured by Roman Ways; a proof that all reverence for the object of their original destination, was lost before the construction of those roads. Circles of stone appear, indeed, to have been used in the performance of religious and judicial ceremonies, by the most remote nations of antiquity;t
and, • Circles of upright stones occur in the following English countics : Cornwall(in which county, Beauties, p. 337. see the Hurlers, an extensive Druidi. cal monument ;) Cumberland (Long Nog and her daughters, p. 146.) Derby. shire; Devonshire; Dorsetshire; Oxfordshire (Rollrich, p. 500. et seq.) Somersetshire (Stanton-Drew, p. 699.) Westmorland; Wiltshire (the cele. brated works of Avebury and Stonehenge ) Curious circles of stone are abuudantly spread throughout both North and South Wales. Relics of the Druids, which are (ruly interesting, are found in Anglesea, the ancient Mona, andile final retreat of the Druidical priests.
+ see a dissertation on the high antiquity of this usage, Munimenta Anii. quia, Pol. I. p. 133, et seq.
and, under the prevalence of that similarity of manners, which may be traced between nearly all countries in the infancy of society, they were probably constructed by the earliest miuisters of the Druidical religion. That many of the vestiges which are still superior to the wear of centuries, and the more destructive assaults of human contumely and avarice, were existing in very high ages of British antiquity, seems evident from the contents of those numerous barrows, which are usually found in the vicinity of circles of stove, and which appear to have been placed in their proximity from motives of reverence and piety.
Although the whole of these monuments possess a striking simplicity of character, they are yet decidedly different in many component particulars. Frequently they are surrounded with a ditch and a vallum, the latter forming the boundary, or being on the outer side. The number of stones is far from being uniforın, and in some instances is not more than nine. Dr. Borlase observes, that the greatest number which has reached his notice is seventy-seven;* and he adds, that “the difference in number was not owing to chance, but either to some established rules observed in the construction of these monuments, or referring to, and expressive of, the erudition of those ages. In some places we find them oftener of the number twelve than of any other number; either in honour to the twelve superior deities, or to soine, national custom of twelve persons of authority, meeting there in council upon important affairs.”+
The same writer (who has, perhaps, considered the subject more attentively than any other antiquary, and who certainly ranks among the best authorities for this species of information,) thus notices the plans most prevalent among these monuments;. and, on comparing his account with the statements in the “ Beau
• To leave unnoticed the stupendous monuments of Avebury and Stonebenge, it may be observed, that the circle termed Gris Yands (no'icev in the Beauties for Cumberland, p. 136—137.) consists of eighty-eighe stones.
+ Antiq. of Cornwall, p. 191.