Carausius' silver

Material Information

Carausius' silver
Luzader, David M
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
80 pages : maps ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Anthropology, CU Denver


Subjects / Keywords:
55 B.C.-449 A.D ( fast )
Numismatics, Roman -- Great Britain ( lcsh )
Silver coins -- History -- Great Britain ( lcsh )
Coins, Roman -- Great Britain ( lcsh )
Coins, Roman ( fast )
Numismatics, Roman ( fast )
Silver coins ( fast )
History -- Great Britain -- Roman period, 55 B.C.-449 A.D ( lcsh )
Great Britain ( fast )
History. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
History ( fast )


General Note:
An undergraduate thesis presented to the Dept. of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Denver.
General Note:
Department of Anthropology
Statement of Responsibility:
by David M. Luzader.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
54465449 ( OCLC )
LD1190.U523 L89 2002 ( lcc )

Full Text
Carausius' Silver
An Undergraduate Thesis Presented
To the
Department of Anthropology,
University of Colorado at Denver
In Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements
For Departmental Honors
David M. Luzader

Luzader 2
This Thesis, Presented in Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements
For Departmental Honors
David M. Luzader
Has been accepted by the
Undergraduate Faculaty of Anthropology
University of Colorado at Denver


Luzader 3
Table of Contents
Introduction 5
I. World Systems 5
1. World Empire Perspective 6
a. Core and Periphery 10
b. Cutting Ties 13
II. Case Study: The British Empire 17
1. Historical and Economic Background 17
a. Exported Resources 18
b. Monetary Collapse 21
c. Gallic Empire 24
d. Aurelian's Reform 25
2. History of the British Empire 27
a. Carausius 27
b. Allectus 31
3. Coinage of Carausius 32
a. Emergency Issues 32
b. Silver Issues 33
c. Radiate Issues 35
4. Allectus 35
III. Archaeological Evidence 36
1. Silver Mines of Roman Britain 37
a. Cupellation 37
b. Location of Lead Mines 39

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2. Mints 41
a. L Marked Coins 42
b. C Marked Coins 43
c. R Marked Coins 45
d. BRI Marked Coins 47
e. RSR Marked Coins 48
f. Unmarked Coins 49
3. Coin Hoards 51
a. Hoards of the British Empire 53
4. Silver Content 59
a. RSR Coinage 60
b. Radiate Coinage 61
c. Tarrifing 65
Discussion 70

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In A.D. 286 the commander of Rome's Channel fleet
(Carausius) seized control over the island of Britain and part of
Northern Gaul from the dominant power of Rome. The economic plan
undertaken by Carausius established for himself the loyalty of
his troops while stabilizing the previously sagging economy of
the island. Britain underwent an economic boom. The island could
incorporate its own resources to create a viable economy for
itself, which had not been provided for by the Roman core.
When looking at instances in which a periphery disengages
its relations with the dominant core, the researcher needs to
recognize the various aspects of core/periphery relationship.
Benefits to the core and periphery need to be understood in order
to distinguish the stimuli behind the reasons for the core's
incorporation of the periphery, why the periphery maintained the
relationship for as long as it did, and the stresses associated
with the risk taken by the periphery in its cessation of the
core/periphery interaction.
World Systems
Anthropological studies are capable of recognizing
behavioral and material changes within cultures, but the question
remains, what causes societies to undergo change? A comprehensive

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method for understanding the phenomena of social change in states
is through the perspective of world-systems. World-systems theory
incorporates historical, geographic, ethnographic,
ethnohistorical, and archaeological evidence of human behavior
over extended periods of time. Use of theoretical, conceptual,
and empirical approaches are basic concepts by which the
researcher can analyze social change in a long term framework
(Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:11,12).
World-Empire Perspective
The concept of predominating influence, or leadership
control, by one state over other states or regions is known as
hegemony and is useful in addressing economic domination by the
core in modern world-systems. But use of the concept can be
questionable for explaining early states (Chase-Dunn and Hall
1997:12,13). Domination refers to the process of accumulation of
wealth via taxes or tribute, and socially structured inequalities
between the imperial core and peripheral areas. In modern states,
domination is maintained through economic power, whereas, ancient
systems maintained domination through political/military power
(Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:13). While modern world-systems do not
adequately address ancient social relations, the world-empire
model is capable of explaining social change and relations in
ancient societies, such as the Roman Empire. The model is taken
from Wallerstein's ideas and adjusted to contrast pre-capitalist
core-periphery systems. The model examines the role of the

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conquered societies relative to neighboring groups and how the
societies interact in imperial situations (Wells 1999:86).
A world-empire is exemplified by a single state apparatus
encompassing multiple cultures bounded into a single economic
framework (Chase-Dunn 1998:2), and consists of an intersocial
division of labor (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:209). Dominant states
collect labor and material from cultures within their control.
The accumulation of surplus labor and raw material was
incorporated into the core through direct collection of goods and
labor from rural areas via political coercion (taxes, tribute,
and state sanctioned slavery), instead of through economic
domination for world-systems (Shannon 1989:2). "Wealth was
accumulated at the political center by those (usually a
hereditary aristocracy) who controlled the state machinery"
(Shannon 1989:22). The core's political elite strived to increase
its own wealth by climbing the political ladder and increasing
political power in order to gain control over more land and
peasants from conquered regions (Shannon 1989:22).
Political centralization strategies are successful to the
degree that the core monopolizes the "access of material, social,
and ideological resources needed by other segments to sustain
themselves and reproduce the social order" (Urban and Schortman
1999:125). Dependency ties create distinctions between rulers and
the ruled that can create situations in which the ruled surrender
labor, goods, and loyalty to the core in exchange for important
core goods and ideas (Urban and Schortman 1999:125).

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Growth of ancient empires often relied on the acquisition of
slaves and booty through conquest of adjacent regions, along with
the distribution of peripheral land and its dependent labor force
to core elites. Eventually, the nature of the structure creates
the situation in which the weight becomes more than the economy
can sustain (Chase-Dunn 1998:168), because the core needs to
continually expand in order to sustain the core's expanding
population. Once territorial expansion reaches the return rate of
zero, the core is no longer capable of providing the necessary
resources to meet growing overhead cost of maintaining the empire
(Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:50).
The world-empire approach can be too rigid in its
application to imperial interactions with peripheral regions
(Wells 1999:96). Interactions can be situational. The imperial
power evaluated the landscape and determined the potential of its
resources fitting into imperial needs (Wells 1999:97). In return,
peripheral regions receive from the core, status building goods,
finished products, political structures, and military protection.
Otherwise the periphery would need protection from the core
instead of the core's protection.
Interactions between conquered populations and populations
situated outside imperial borders need to be recognized as being
part of the same system. Indigenous populations need to be
recognized "not just in terms of how they react to the imperial
power, but rather as active participants in the construction of
the contexts of interaction" (Wells 1999:86) because imperial
expansion may contain less core influence over the periphery than

Luzader 9
may be expected (Wells 1999:86). If the periphery is not
receiving economic incentives from the core essential for
maintaining core/periphery interactions, then the periphery will
find itself needing to become less dependent on the core by
establishing new social and economic exchange links with areas
beyond the core's domination or with adjacent peripheries. Even
though the periphery may experience tremendous pressure to
maintain its ties to the core, it also has the option, which may
be preceded by the above, of cutting its ties to the core,
establishing itself as a newly emerging state and utilizing its
own labor and raw materials for its own economic, political, and
social structures.
Modern political economies consist of market based logic of
accumulation. In world-empires, such as the Roman Empire, there
existed non-capitalist markets and wage labor, but they were not
determinate or even very influential in imperial expansion and
contraction. In place of market economies, Rome utilized the
hallmark of world-empire concepts to obtain surplus: tribute,
slaves (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:157; Chase-Dunn 1998:93), and
taxation (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:157).
Archaeology has the capacity to evaluate world-empire
approach in two ways. First, archaeology can look at early
empires and the changes occurring over an extended period of
time. If a good data base exists, the researcher "can examine
changing circumstances, and adoptive patterns" (Wells 1999:86)
before, during, and after conquest. Societal changes can occur
over several centuries and the use of comparable archaeological

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evidence from different cultural phases enables the researcher to
study change on a broad-scale. Second, historians depend on
written text, archaeologists are able to analyze evidence of
daily life and discover patterns taking place over time (Wells
1999:86). The researcher can then recognize changes taking place
in various spectrums of society, from settlement, production,
status, trade, economy, and everyday life.
Core and Periphery
As with many modern world-systems, areas incorporated by the
core often suffered plunder by the core prior to incorporation as
a periphery. The incorporation then takes on the form of
coercion. The act of plunder can become a major feature in some
forms of incorporation (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:64).
"Economic exploitation is a more stable form of exploitation
than plunder" (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:64), because exploitation
does not reduce the goods and labor of the periphery to the point
of resource exhaustion as quickly as plunder (Chase-Dunn and Hall
1997:64), though resource and labor extraction may eventually
lead to similar consequences. It was typical for world-empire
systems to utilize tributary systems while leaving periphery
production activities untouched to avoid over exploitation
(Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:64).
Ancient core/peripheral structures usually were based on the
centralization of the state apparatus. Such structures relied on
the imperial power's ability to continue to expand the periphery

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in order to maintain its survival. If the core fails to expand
the core no longer can increase its stock of raw material and
labor essential for maintaining its growing population. Ancient
imperial expansion was accomplished via conquest and subsequent
exploitation of peripheral regions under the domain of the core
(Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:50.
The core is defined as the region that dominates the system
and usually is the system's most complex social group (Chase-Dunn
and Hall 1997:272). The periphery is a system component dominated
by the core and generally contains the system's least complex
social group (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997:273).
Core areas utilized resources of the periphery to continue
their economic growth and increase their level of consumption.
The political processes of the periphery can be stymied when the
core removes important resources from the periphery, thereby,
hampering its ability to maintain its own local power struggles
(Urban and Schortman 1999:128). The maintenance of local power
struggles is essential in the formation of periphery political
structures, such as tribal leaders and local magistrates who have
better understandings of periphery's needs and have the capacity
of influencing and/or directing tribal, clan, and lineage
loyalties to the core power.
The level of core-periphery interaction needs to be
understood in order to determine whether it is the core or the
periphery that is receiving higher benefits from the interaction.
This is important for finding potential stresses that may come
from core/periphery relations. Not all core/periphery

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interactions are structured the same. In the study of
core/periphery relations, it is essential to identify the variety
and types of goods imported/exported. Also important is to
distinguish the level of labor involved in the production of
goods, along with identifying whether the goods consist of raw
materials, manufactured goods, and/or if they are prestige goods.
Finally, the degree of centralization involved in the exchange
process and the importance that the exchange has on the economy
of both parties needs to be examined (Chase-Dunn and Hall
1997:61) .
From the core's perspective, there consists two poles on a
continuum of interactions. At one end, the weak pole of the
continuum indicates the major influence originates from the core
for the benefit of the periphery. Conversely, the strong pole of
the continuum indicates the relationship is advantageous to the
core's development and changes the periphery substantially. Goods
and influence flow in both directions, but in the strong pole
continuum, the wealth flows to the core (Chase-Dunn and Hall
Recognition of the variety of resources and the level of
accumulation by the core can indicate the items it needs for
maintaining its power and the core's level of dependence on
peripheral materials. Determining the benefits received by the
core enables the researcher to understand the potential tradeoffs
involved in core/periphery relations. On the other hand,
recognition of core produced goods, the type of social status
gained by the periphery, and the level of economic help received

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by the periphery from the core enables the researcher to
comprehend the sociopolitical and economic requirements sought by
the periphery. It also can indicate the level of the periphery's
technology at the time of core/periphery interaction.
Accumulation of raw materials, such as mineral deposits, are
often mainstays of imperial accumulation. The core may lack
substantial ore for maintaining their needs or have exhausted
their mineral resources during the core's expansion process.
Expansion increases the core's population base, which requires
the increased need for ore based commodities such as coinage.
Mining of peripheral ores for the benefit of the core can be
archaeologically recognized by evidence of shafts and galleries.
Ore processing centers can be recognized by smelting furnaces,
slag and finished products. Many quarry and ore sites can be
associated with settlements, processing structures, and road
networks. Settlements associated with quarry sites indicate the
level of ore extraction, the type of labor utilized such as
freemen or slave labor, and the amount of economic dependence the
local population has tied to the quarry site.
Cutting Ties
Cutting of core ties by the periphery can create very
"different results pending on the precise nature of the
connection and local circumstance" (Hall 1999:12). The cutting or
slacking of a periphery's relations to the core can create, for
the former periphery, times of boom or decline (Hall 1996:446).

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Prosperity may come about if the core was extracting local
resources. If the periphery was supplied resources by the core
without the possibility of substitution, the former periphery,
whatever prosperity it may have benefited from its former
relations to the core, would decline and collapse (Hall
If the core was not contributing enough to the periphery's
needs, the periphery will react accordingly, by establishing
connections with other areas or cutting ties with the core. The
core needs to provide the periphery with incentives in order to
maintain the periphery's willingness to continue the interaction.
If the core does not meet the periphery's needs then stress
between the regions increases. Increased stress requires the core
to raise its investment, either by meeting the needs of the
periphery or increase the dominance of the core over the
periphery. Increasing state dominance may manifest itself in the
increase of military presence, taxes, tribute, and/or slaves,
which would increase the periphery's stress and investment by the
core: ( paying troops, providing food and other goods such as
clothing and weapons).
If the core was taking slaves from the periphery, the
periphery's potential prosperity could be weakened, because
taking of slaves removes from the periphery part of its potential
labor force. If the periphery is receiving prestige goods from
the core, cutting of ties will effect the local elite's ability
to maintain or establish elite positions unless there exist

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substitutes for their goods, which may result in elite
monopolization of locally produced prestige goods (Hall 1999:11).
A periphery's success at cutting ties to the core can be
related to the military and administrative structures used by the
core within the periphery. Many Roman peripheries were
administered and defended, not by Romans or Roman citizens, but
by the local population (Wells 1999:94). Though many of the Roman
legions and auxiliary troops were stationed at locations other
than their base of origin, new recruits were often drawn from
local populations. After a generation, a particular unit would be
comprised entirely of the local population.
Once a periphery succeeds cutting its ties to the core, the
new political structure benefits the new administration.
Peripheral political freedom from the core translates to
political freedom for the local elites and not the population in
general. Emerging state political structures in the periphery
continue to extract demands from the population via common
methods: taxes, tribute, and labor. If the periphery severs its
core ties as the result of usurpation, the new administration
would consist of core elites who advanced their positions by
staking claim over region(s) formerly belonging to the dominant
core. The former periphery would continue to be administered
along the same lines as it had before, only now, its surplus and
labor could be destined to supply the needs of local elites and
not the needs of the core, thereby creating a smaller system.
The usurpation of Britain and Northern Gaul by Carausius in
A.D. 286 is a good example of a periphery severing its ties from

Luzader 16
the core. Britain and Northern Gaul had been peripheral regions
belonging to the Roman Empire. Prior to Carausius' usurpation,
these regions were experiencing economic instability because of
the drain of raw materials from the region. Carausius' control of
the area, particularly Britain, enabled these former peripheries
to retain the resources normally destined for exportation to the
Roman core. Carausius' formation of this early British Empire
brought about a ten year period of relative prosperity which
ended upon Rome's re-incorporation of Britain into the Empire in
A.D. 296. The details of Carausius' usurpation are provided in
the following chapter.

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Case Study: The British Empire
The Roman Empire commenced its incorporation of Britain in
A.D. 43 (Todd 1999). Prior to Claudius' Roman invasion of
Britain, the island was divided into territorial units defined by
tribal unity. The tribe (tuath) "embraced a small unit of
population ruled by a petty king, the ri" (Todd 1999:19). The
next social level were "the nobles who comprised the warriors
(the equites of Julius Caesar's account), Druids and skilled
craftsmen, and the free men, the peasants and the rank-and-file
of Celtic hosts" (Todd 1999:19).
When Carausius established control over Britain and part of
Northern Gaul in A.D. 286, he discovered his newly acquired
domain was bereft of viable coinage capable of maintaining the
region's economy. In order for Carausius to consolidate his
political position, he needed to remedy the island's economic
situation, which had been in decline since the reigns of Valerian
and Gallienus in A.D. 253.
Historical and Economic Background
The earliest knowledge of Britain in the Mediterranean world
lacked detailed information. The earliest surviving report of
contact between Britain and the Mediterranean dates to the end of
the fourth century B.C. by Pythens of Massilia. The island's
mineral resources were the stimulus which initiated direct

Luzader 18
contact by Rome (Todd 1999:1). After a period of sporadic contact
between Britain and the Mediterranean, contact between the two
regions accelerated in the second century B.C., once Rome
extended its power over Gaul (Todd 1999:4).
Rome and Britain became officially acquainted in 55 B.C.
when the former Roman councilor, Gaius Julius Caesar, established
himself in the province of Gaul. From Gaul, Caesar initiated two
minor invasions of the island of Britain (Vagi 1999 v.l:47),
between 58 and 56 B.C.. The invasions had little impact on the
island or on the relations between Rome and Britain (Todd
Britain's inclusion into the Roman Empire came about during
the reign of Claudius (A.D. 41-54). Roman troops landed along the
coast of Eastern Kent in A.D. 43 (Todd 1999) and initiated a
campaign of conquest and Romanization. Once Rome consolidated
their holdings in Britain, they established a loose boundary
along the Tyne Valley, which stretches between present day
Carlisle to the west and Newcastle to the east (See Figure 1).
Export of Resources
The Roman historian, Pliny the Elder, reported "Lead occurs
in Britain on the surface so freely that there is actually a law
against it being exploited beyond a certain amount" (Collingwood
1975:42). Pliny's remark did not imply lead is a surface product,
only that its abundance was so great that substantial amounts of
lead deposits were noticeable on the surface. Britain's inclusion

Luzader 19
into the Roman Empire provided Rome access to the island's
mineral wealth and other resources. The fifth century
ecclesiastical historian, Bede, mentioned Britain's copper, lead,
and silver resources, though he failed to mention the one British
gold mine utilized by Rome at Dolaucothi in Carmauthenshire
(Blair 1963). The majority of Britain's silver mines and its lone
gold mine were imperial property (Bowersock et al 1999) during
the Roman era. Sometime around A.D. 250 the management of
Britain's gold and lead mines became a state monopoly, owned by
the emperor and administered by state procuators. The exceptions
to this system were those mines in direct military hands instead
of state procuators, and the lead mines in Derbyshire which were
leased out to independent contractors (Collingwood 1975), known
as socii Lutudarenses (Todd 1999:111). Pliny's reference to
limitations of lead extraction implies that "not all official
control had been abandoned" (Todd 1999:112). Most, if not all,
copper mines were imperial property and leased to independent
contractors (Collingwood 1975).
Although Britain's lead mines, which are the source for
silver via cupellation, were not as important as the lead mines
in Spain and Dacia as a source for silver, they still were a
major source for lead and silver to the Roman Empire (Collingwood
1975:34). Due to the island's abundance of silver, one would
think there should be an abundance of archaeological evidence of
silver artifacts in Britain, but on the whole, such finds are
relatively rare (Collingwood 1975:99). Lead artifacts are more
apparent in Britain. Evidence of lead has been discovered from

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British-Romano building and plumbing materials (Todd 1999:112). A
majority of Britain's lead and silver was exported (Collingwood
1975:111), and considering these resources were mostly under
direct imperial control, were likely destined for imperial
workshops and mints located in Rome and Lugdunum (Lyons). The
export of lead and silver cannot be categorized as commerce,
since these resources hold the distinction as being state
property obtained through political and military coercion.
Figure 1
Roman Britain

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Britain's net revenue was accomplished by the export of
mineral ores in exchange for money. Along with the export of
precious and base metals, Britain exported perishable food
stuffs, which for the most part, went directly to the army
(Collingwood 1975). In Britain along with many locations
throughout the Roman Empire, weaving became a major professional
occupation. Clothing became an essential trade commodity (Jones
1974:352) throughout the empire because "even a poor man normally
bought ready made clothes" (Jones 1974:352).
Britain and Gaul were both major exporters of pork, and
along with Spain, these regions were also major sources of
leather (Toutain 1968). Britain gained a certain amount of
celebrity in its export of hunting dogs. The ancient writer
Oppian identified one breed as a small, lightweight beast that
hunted by scent, while another breed Oppian referred to as a bull
dog, which could break the neck of a bull.
Other British exports include oysters, pearls that were dark
in colour, and brooches that were produced in northern Britain,
prior to imperial control over all of Britain's silver sources.
The last item was only exported for a brief time in the early
part of the second century, and have mostly been found in the
Rhineland (Collingwood 1975).
Monetary Collapse
From its introduction in 212 B.C., the denarius was the
principle coinage of the Roman Republic and that of Imperial Rome

Luzader 22
up to the middle part of the 3rd century A.D. The denarius was a
silver coin which initially was struck at 84 to the Roman pound
(322.5 grams) (Vagi 1999 v.2:87). During the reign of Augustus
(27 B.C. to A.D. 14) pure copper stood to pure silver at 1:60
value and pure silver stood to pure gold at 1: circa 12
(Heichelheim 1970:215). During the reign of Nero (A.D. 54-68),
the denarius underwent its first noticeable debasement. Nero had
the issue struck at 96 to the Roman pound (Vagi 1999 v.2:87). The
denarius underwent another major debasement during the reign of
Septimus Severus (A.D. 193-211) reducing its silver content to
about 50% (Vagi 1999 v.2:87). The balance of the coinage's
material consisted of mostly copper, with small amounts of tin,
lead, and numerous minor elements.
In the year A.D. 215 there occured a fundamental change to
Roman denominations. Emperor Antoninus (A.D. 198-217), more
commonly known as Caracalla, introduced a new silver denomination
(Casey 1994) to counter the debasement of the denarius. The new
denomination, often referred to as antonininus, but more recently
referred to as double-denari or radiate coinage. The new double-
denari was officially worth two denari, thus the name, but in
reality contained the silver content of one and half denari,
thereby, providing sizable profits for the imperial exchequer
(Casey 1994:9) from the recall of old denari in exchange for new
double-denari. Caracalla's reform was essentially geared for
providing profits for the exchequer in order "to pay for his
massive army" (Vagi 1999a:181) and not to stabilize the coinage.
After Caracalla's reform, radiate coinage contained about 50%

Luzader 23
silver (Vagi 1999b:83), which was the same silver percentage as
the denari.
Initially, radiate coinage was used sparingly until the
reign of Gordian III (A.D. 238-244), at which time radiate issues
replaced the denarius as the major silver denomination of the
Roman Empire (Vagi 1999b:83). The denarius no longer remained as
a regular aspect of imperial coinage (Casey 1994) and became
relegated to ceremonial issues. The denarius was briefly
reintroduced during the reign of Aurelian (A.D. 270-275) as part
of his monetary reform of A.D. 274, but was withdrawn because it
was a highly debased issue (Vagi 1999b:87).
Imperial silver coinage was the backbone of the economic
system, and its debasement greatly affected other denominations
(Casey 1994:11). The removal of denari issues and the ongoing
debasement of radiate issues profoundly affected imperial bronze
and copper issues (Duncan and Jones 1974:270) making their
metallic value less with each debasement, in order to pay for
Rome's growing military. During the reign of Claudius Gothicus
(A.D. 268-270) radiate coinage contained a silver content of only
2.5 to 3 grams, which is equal to about 2% silver content for the
issue (Casey 1994:11).
The need for precious metals remained constant from the
reign of Augustus through to the end of the third century. The
constant demands for silver and gold in the Roman Empire is
estimated to have reduced the retrievable silver stock by half
and the gold stock by two thirds. The major loss for silver and
gold took place in the third century (Heichelheim 1970:215).

Luzader 24
Because the radiate coinage was undergoing constant
debasements the silver content became so low that the issue began
to resemble copper coinage. To combat this, the government had
radiate coinage coated with a thin layer of silver intended to
distinguish it as silver coinage. Silvering was created by
pickling the coins in an acid bath which would leach the silver
content to the surface of the coin (Vagi 1999 v.2:86). Often the
silvering quickly wore away, causing the coin to appear as a
plane copper coin.
Roman mints produced a plethora of debased radiate coinage
by recycling relatively recent coins, which required the removal
of recent coinage from public circulation. This rapid recoinage
decreased the public's confidence in the imperial coinage, which
owed its success to public faith. When new coins stopped
resembling old denominations the public's faith in the system
fell even further (Harl 1996:132).
Gallic Empire
In A.D. 260 the Empire was experiencing political stress
from numerous directions. Italy had recently experienced a major
invasion of the Juthungi. Senior Emperor Valerian was defeated
and captured by the Sasanins. Valerian's son, Gallienus, was
engaged along the Danube frontier, and the western provinces were
having to deal with a German invasion (Vagi 1999a:385).
The commander of the Rhine, Postumus, was also the governor
of Upper or Lower Germany. He rebelled against Rome in A.D. 260,

Luzader 25
thereby establishing the seperast Gallo-Roman or Gallic Empire.
The Gallic Empire (A.D. 260-274) comprised all three of Gaul's
provinces, Upper and Lower Germany, Britain, and Spain. Once
Postumus was murdered, the Gallic Empire went into rapid decline
(Vagi 1999a:385) and was retaken by Emperor Aurelian in A.D. 274
following the battle of Chalons-sur-Marne (Vagi 1999a:396).
At the outset of the Gallic Empire, Postumus took control of
the imperial mints located at Treveri (Trier) in Germania
Inferior and Colonia Agrippina (Cologne). Postumus struck
superior radiate coinage than did Rome along with numerous
sestertii and heavy gold coinage (Harl 1996:145). Following the
murder of Postumus in A.D. 269, parts of the Gallic Empire relied
heavily on the use of imperial coinage, which by then contained a
higher silver value than post-Postumus Gallic issues, which came
into the area without Roman authorization (Vagi 1999a:397).
Aurelian's Reform
Emperor Aurelian (A.D. 270-275) enacted another coinage
reform in A.D. 274. The most important change was the replacement
of the radiates known as antonininus with a new radiate
denomination referred to as the aurelianianus. The new
denomination was more than an upgrade of the old coinage. It was
larger and a more consistently round coin containing a silver
content of 4.5 to 5%. Value marks (XI or KA) were added to the
reverse exergue (place below the portrait or device on a coin) of

Luzader 26
the coinage. Numismatists believe the value marks refer to the
purity of the coin: 1/20 = 5 percent silver (Vagi 1999b:86).
Aurelian's reform had limited success. Sufficient
distribution of the new radiate coinage failed to find its way
into certain regions of the empire. The provinces of Britain and
Gaul, in particular, underwent major coin shortages once Aurelian
relocated the imperial mints in the Rhineland to Lugdunum (Lyons)
in southern Gaul (Harl 1996:148). Older radiate coinage continued
to circulate throughout Britain and Gaul, filling the need for
coinage which the mints failed to provide. The lack of reform
coinage could be due to the fact that Aurelian's recovery of
lands lost to the Gallo-Roman Empire was quickly followed by his
murder, thereby providing only a short time span for his reform
issues to sufficiently penetrate Britain (Todd 1999:177). Also,
due to the collapse of the silver stocks throughout the empire,
the government may have found it necessary to drastically
restrict the circulation of silver coinage (Heichelheim
Britain was starved for legitimate and reliable coinage
(Harl 1996) The coin reforms of Emperor Aurelian failed to make
its way across the English Channel. The lack of legitimate
coinage in Britain lead to the wholesale manufacture of copies
(Casey 1994; de la Bedoyere 1999; Harl 1996) and counterfeits
(Harl 1996) of radiate coinage originally issued during the days
of the Gallic Empire. Britain's reliance on Gallic copies and
counterfeits lead to the production of numerous degenerate second
and third generation copies (de la Bedoyere 1999:32), which over

Luzader 27
time contained garbled legends and developed abstract styles
(Casey 1994:40).
History of the British Empire
Britain's coin shortage and economic crises was alleviated
not by the distribution of legitimate imperial coinage, but with
the unexpected arrival of Mausaeus Carausius. The birth of the
British Empire began with Carausius' usurpation of Britain and
part of Northern Gaul in A.D. 286. Carausius ruled for seven
years after which his advisor, Allectus, ruled the empire until
his defeat by the Roman Caesar, Constantius Chlorus, in A.D. 296.
In A.D. 285 a band of Gaulish peasants, chafing under Roman
oppression, amalgamated into one group called the Bagaudae. The
Bagaudae elected two emperors from their own numbers, and then
went about marauding the surrounding countryside and coast. In
the following campaign, one of the commanders from Rome's Channel
Fleet, Mausaeus Carausius, proved himself instrumental in the
defeat of the Bagaudae (Vagi 1999a:404). Roman Emperor Maximian
(A.D. 286-305, 307-308, and 310) appointed Carausius admiral of
the Channel Fleet, Classis Britanica (Askew 1967:29; Vagi 1999
v.1:404), with the task "of ridding the western coasts of
Frankish and Saxon pirates" (Vagi 1999 v.1:405) "and thus one of

Luzader 28
the most remarkable personalities in early British history
appears on the scene" (Askew 1967:29).
Carausius was a Menapia of humble birth (Askew 1967:29; Vagi
1999 v.1:404). The Menapia were a seafaring and trading people
(Askew 1967:29) inhabiting the area between the Waal and Scheldt
rivers (Vagi 1999 v.1:404) in present day Holland. The Menapia
also had established settlements along the coast of Britain and
Ireland (Askew 1967:29).
The tactic Carausius used for dealing with pirates was to
attack the pirates on their homeward voyage, when their hauls
would be weighed down with booty and unable to outrun Carausius'
ships. Afterward, Carausius was accused and found guilty of
keeping the booty for himself (Scullard 1979:68; Vagi 1999
v.1:405). Emperor Maximian, who was in the Rhine region at the
time, had Carausius sentenced to death. As soon as Carausius
discovered what was to befall him, he gathered his troops and
ships and sailed off to the western shores of Britain, making
landfall just south of the western edge of Hadrian's Wall (Vagi
1999 v.1:405) near Carlisle.
Once in Britain, Carausius formed a pact with the Scots and
Piets, establishing a united resistance to Rome. Meanwhile,
Britain's Roman governor, Quintas Bassianus, marched his Imperial
army north from its base in York and engaged Carausius in battle.
Carausius again proved his military ability and defeated the
Romans. After absorbing large numbers of Bassianus' solders into
his own ranks, Carausius marched towards London and took control

Luzader 29
of the city (Vagi 1999 v.1:405). Once in London, Carausius'
troops declared Carausius emperor of Britain (Gibbon 1946:279).
Why was Carausius able to conquer all of Britain so easily?
His own military prestige was not well known in Britain prior to
his arrival (Todd 1999:180). Part of the ease in which Carausius
took control may have to do with the military structure that had
developed in Britain following the days of the Gallic Empire. In
Britain, advancement into the officer ranks came from the
equestrian class instead of the senatorial legati which was the
Roman system. The auxilia units chose their commanders from the
ranks of centurions and decurians instead of from the municipal
aristocracy of other Roman provinces (Todd 1999:175). In other
words, military units in Britain promoted from within their own
ranks instead of being assigned officers from the Roman upper
classes. This may have created an atmosphere in which the troops
identified loyalty not to the central government, but to their
officers, who had a better understanding of what the troops were
capable of doing. With this in mind, when Carausius landed on the
island, the local commanders may have recalled that "the rule of
the central empire was rather more exacting than that of the
Gallic emperors" (Todd 1999:180). More importantly, Carausius
swiftly presented a sizable supply of money to pay the troops.
The amount of coinage which appeared, almost magically, may give
credence to the charges of embezzlement that Maximian had leveled
against Carausius (Todd 1999:180).
Rome was economically stressed from the lost revenues from
Britain (Gibbon 1946). Maximian's retaliation took two or three

Luzader 30
years to manifest itself, because Carausius had taken the Channel
Fleet to Britain, and Maximian had to construct a new fleet (Vagi
The first Paneygric of Mamertinus recorded the arrangements
for the Roman expedition to Britain and expressed Maximian's
confidence of victory. The second Paneygric fails to mention the
subject at all (Gibbon 1946:280). The expedition of A.D. 289 was
a disaster for Maximian and an immediate peace plan was made
between Carausius and the two Roman Emperors Diocletian and
Maximian (Todd 1999:180; Vagi 1999a:405). The peace plan may have
provided that Rome's emperors were willing to accept Carausius as
co-emperor (Todd 1999:180).
"It has long been accepted that Carausius was able to
maintain control over a part of Northern Gaul" (Todd 1999:180).
Carausius abandoned most of his continental holdings prior to
Maximian's failed invasion of A.D. 289, but for a time, Carausius
had established a mint at Rouen in Northern Gaul (Askew 1967:30).
Based on the inscriptions on coins produced at Rouen, Carausius'
control over Northern Gaul did not extend beyond A.D. 287. Rouen
coins do not mention Carausius' councilorship of A.D. 287, only
his councilorship of 286 (Burnett and Casey 1985:12).
Carausius established at least two mints in Britain; London
and Colchester. He may have had a mint at Wroxexter (Mattingly
1960) as well. The London mint was responsible for producing high
quality silver coinage as well as the production of radiate
issues (Vagi 1999a:406).

Luzader 31
After Carausius' victory over Maximian, he used the
opportunity to legitimize his imperial status by convincing
Diocletian and Maximian to accept him as co-emperor. Carausius
went so far as to adopt their clan names, Aurelius Valerius, to
his own name. Carausius produced coinage bearing the jugate busts
of himself alongside those of the legitimate emperors. He also
would produce coinage in the name(s) of Diocletian and/or
Maximian (Vagi 1999a:406).
Carausius realized he would never be truly accepted by Rome
when each of the legitimate emperors adopted a Caesar (prince) in
A.D. 293, despite the peace plan of A.D. 289. One such Caesar,
Constantius Chlorus, the father of Constantine the Great,
captured Carausius' last remaining continental stronghold,
thereby cutting Carausius off from the mainland. The loss of his
last continental holdings, ended Carausius' access to supplies
and military support from the continent (Vagia:406). His prestige
and authority was now severely jeopardized. In A.D. 293,
Carausius fell victim to a palace coup lead by his chief
minister, Allectus, and was murdered (Vagi 1999a:406).
"Almost nothing is known about this shadowy figure,
including his full name or his ancestry" (Vagi 1999 v.1:407).
Whoever Allectus was, the limited amount of information about him
indicated he was oppressive to the Britons (Vagi 1999a:407).

Luzader 32
Contantius Chlorus invaded Britain in A.D. 296. He divided
his fleet into two sections, with himself commanding one section
and the second section under the command of Asclepiodotus. The
British fleet lost sight of the Roman fleet in the fog, thereby,
allowing them to make landfall (Todd 1999:182). The Roman army
caught up with Allectus and his badly trained army of Germans
(Todd 1999:182) at Hamshire (Vagi 1999a:408). Allectus was killed
in battle and the remainder of his forces retreated towards
London. Constantius arrived in London before the remainder of
Allectus' army could reach the city (Todd 1999:183), thereby
cutting them off from making a stand behind the city walls. The
chronicles, possibly biased, inform the reader that the British
population was overjoyed at their liberation from Allectus (Vagi
Coinage of Carausius
Emergency Issues
When Carausius was declared Emperor (Augustus) of Britain,
he immediately issued large quantities of coinage into the
island's economy in the form of troop donatives (gift) meant to
gain support from the army (Casey 1994) and to circulate his name
and image as quickly and as widely as possible (de la Bedoyere
1999:32). Initially, Carausius' issues were overstrikes of
existing coinage, such as billon radiates issued by Gallienus and
barbaric radiates imitating coinage of the Gallic Empire (de la

Luzader 33
Bedoyere 1999:33). The production standards of the overstrikes
was based on Aurelian's reform of A.D. 274 (Casey 1994).
Carausius fully understood that the prime method of gaining
military and public support was through the production of strong
coinage. The troops obviously required their pay (Johnson
1976:27), but due to the debased nature of the existing coinage,
Carausius realized his subsequent coinage needed to exceed the
standards of the Roman Empire to maintain loyalty. Carausius'
post emergency issues required that the coinage should have a
silver content value capable of providing a strong basis for
trade and to provide the army with the confidence in the
coinage's ability to retain its full purchasing power (Johnson
Silver Issues
Once Carausius realized he needed to fill the monetary needs
of his empire, he enacted an extremely ambitious production of
gold and silver issues of high quality in order to secure
Britain's economic conditions (Johnson 1976:28). Due to the fact
Britain had only one utilized gold mine, the island was forced to
establish its silver coinage as the basis for most large
transactions (Mattingly 1960:247; Shiel 1977:138). The gold aurei
issues of Carausius are extremely rare, with about twenty samples
known (Vagi 1999a:408). For everyday use, the populace would not
require a large quantity of gold coinage.

Luzader 34
Carausius' major contribution to Britain's immediate
economic needs came in the form of silver coinage, which
initially was of poor style and quality, but quickly improved to
the point that the coinage was not only well struck but comprised
of very good silver (Askew 1980; Vagi 1999a).Carausius' silver
coinage had a purity of 90 percent (de la Bedoyere 1999:33) and
was struck at 84 to the Roman pound (Shiel 1977:140).
Though Carausius' silver coinage was of similar weight and
silver content as the earlier denarius issues, the new silver
coinage cannot be technically referred to as denarius.
Originally, Rome's radiate coinage was equal to two denari.
Carausius' silver coinage contained 90% silver and Rome's radiate
coinage contained 4 to 5% silver. Carausius' new silver issues
had an metallic value worth about twenty times more than that of
the current radiate coinage.
Carausius' high quality silver issues probably were not
struck after A.D. 289 (Shiel 1977:138) or A.D. 290 (Askew 1967).
But there is the hypothesis that Carausius issued the same silver
denomination to celebrate his quinquenium in A.D. 290/291 (Shiel
1977:139). Britain's increased economic stability, along with the
increase of reliable radiate issues could be the reason why
Carausius felt justified in ceasing the production of high
quality silver coinage (Shiel 1977:138).

Luzader 35
Radiate Coinage
"Carausius' coinage is remarkably varied in design, content,
with many elaborate obverse busts and a wide array of imaginative
reverse types" (Vagi 1999a:406). Carausius' radiate coinage
underwent gradual increase in metallic value as his reign
progressed. Some of his earlier radiate issues contained no mint
mark. These unmarked issues had extremely low silver contents
(0.2% or lower). His unmarked issues seemed to have been
immediately followed by issues commemorating the legions under
his command. These issues had a slight improvement in their
alloy, containing 1 to 2% silver (Cope et al 1997). Carausius'
radiate coinage continued to increased in value. His billon
radiate coinage was struck according to the Aurelianic standard
(Casey 1994:40) with a silver content of 4.5 to 5% (Vagi
"Allectus initially followed in the numismatic footsteps of
Carausius, but soon faltered" (Vagi 1999b:408). Instead of
striking high quality silver coinage in the form of troop
donatives, Allectus struck donatives in billon (bronze with small
amounts of silver). Allectus' radiate coinage became smaller and
lighter over time (Vagi 1999a:408).

Luzader 36
Archaeological Evidence
A majority of archaeological evidence that corroborates
Carausius' attempts at increasing Britain's economic independence
from Rome via currency lies within numismatic studies. Due to the
lack of evidence relating to actual mint locations, coin hoards,
coin distribution, and mint marks are studied to help researchers
identify minting centers. Lead mines utilized by Carausius and
Allectus were already established by the Roman authority long
before the formation of the British Empire. There are
archaeological finds that show extensive remains of both open
cast workings, and adits and galleries within mineral laden rock
at these locations (Blair 1963:131).
The purpose of this chapter is to examine how Carausius
utilized Britain's resources, such as lead mines that are the
primary source for silver. Coinage produced by Carausius needed
to contain a metalic value higher than that produced by the
earlier Gallic Empire and at least as viable as the coinage
issued by the legitimate emperors of Rome, Diocletian and
Maximian. I suggest that the silver increase of Carausius'
coinage was the poli-economic kick needed by Britain as a viable
alternative to that of the imperial coinage issued by the Roman

Luzader 37
Silver Mines of Roman Britain
Mines of both Spain and Britain had supplied the ancient
world, as far back as Classical times, "with metals so much
needed by the rest of the world" (Heichelheim 1970:222). The
majority of silver and gold mines within the bounds of the Roman
Empire were destined to become imperial property. The most
productive mining regions fell under the supervision of mining
procurators, who were freedmen (Bowersock et al 1999:579). The
exceptions to this system were those mines in direct military
hands and the lead mines in Derbyshire, which were leased out to
independent contractors (Collingwood 1975). Mine labor was made
up of slaves (which made up a large part of the workforce),
convicts, war prisoners, and freeborn wage laborers. Larger mines
contained army detachments who's task it was to oversee the
laborers, guard the ores and metals, as well as to provide
technical assistance in the smelting and drainage operations
(Bowersock, et al 1999:579).
Lead was the most important of the minerals extracted from
Britain. Not only was lead utilized for its own use (Blair
1963:131), such as lead pipes, containers, and articles for food
preparation and consumption, but also for the silver extracted
from it (Blair 1963:131). Lead was Rome's only viable source for

Luzader 38
silver. The mineral galena is also a silver source, but it is
uncertain whether the Roman Empire utilized this source
considering the extremely low amount (0.01 per cent) of silver
capable of being extracted from galena via forth century
technology (Todd 1999:112)
Once lead is smelted, it undergoes the process of
cupellation in order to extract its silver content. Cupellation
is performed in a cupellation furnace, which consists of a hole
in the ground containing bone ash. A cup shaped cavity was then
formed in the bone ash deposit. This cup shaped depression was
then filled with charcoal and the lead. The hole was walled and
roofed in clay and a heat blast was constructed on one side of
the structure. The lead was then "converted into litharge, which
was absorbed by the bone-ash, and a cake of silver was left on
the hearth" (Collingwood 1975:96,97). The lead saturated cupel
was re-smelted, producing pure lead (Collingwood 1975:97).
"Cupellation furnaces probably existed at all the smelting
works attached to the various mines" (Collingwood 1975:97), or
the process was performed at lead processing centers (Collingwood
1975:97). Lead molds (pigs) that had gone through the cupellation
process are sometimes marked ex arg(entariis), "from the silver
works"; though the lack of such a mark does not necessarily mean
cupellation was not performed on the lead. Based on mineral
analysis, all but one lead pig, dating from Roman Britain, are of
desilverized lead. The degree of efficiency enabled by
cupellation indicates the silver content of lead pigs can be as

Luzader 39
low as .01%, with the lowest percentage being .002% after
cupellation (Collingwood 1975:97).
Locations of Lead Mines
Rome was well aware of Britain's lead deposits and took full
advantage of Britain's lead resources within a few years of
Claudius' invasion in A.D. 43. This exploitation continued
through to the end of the fourth century (Blair 1963:131). The
possible motivation of Rome's invasion and incorporation of
Britain was the island's mineral wealth. All of Britain's ore
deposits "were exploited as soon as the territories in which they
lay had fallen to the army" (Todd 1999:111).
The Mendip lead mines are located in Somerset, and were
possibly in operation prior to Roman occupation. Mendip mines
came under Roman control in A.D. 49, six years after the Roman
invasion (Blair 1963:132). Evidence of imperial control is
confirmed by the existence of lead pigs bearing imperial stamps.
These stamps range from the reign of Claudius to the joint reign
of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (A.D. 164-169) (Blair
1963:132). Charterhouse mines in Somerset/Avon area exploited
lead and silver from the Mendips loads. Charterhouse is a clear
example of the existence of small towns forming adjacent to
mining areas (Burnham and Walach 1981:41).
One of the mines at Flintshire is the Roman mine of Hakyn
Morton, which was in operation by A.D. 70, and had its smelting
area located at Pentre Ffaiddan. Derbyshire had three major

Luzader 40
centers for lead mining operations (Blair 1963). Rome extensively
worked lead mines in Shropeshire and also worked mines in
Yorkshire and Northumberland to a lesser extent (Collingwood
1975:34). The list of all known British-Romano lead mine
complexes are as follows: Pentre, Clwyd; Machen, Gwent both in
modern Wales; Crich, Derbyshire; Shelve Hill, Shropshire;
Charterhouse, Avon; Priddy and Cheaton Mendip, both in Somerset
(See Figure 2) .
Figure 2
Lead mines of Britain

Luzader 41
Prior to Carausius' usurpation, Britain sent its silver
stocks across the Channel to various processing centers, such as
mints. After Britain cut its ties with Rome, the silver was
transported to British mints to process the silver into coinage.
The mint system controlled by Carausius is far more complexed
than that of his successor, Allectus. Allectus' coinage can be
distinguished by marks incorporating either a C for Camulodumun
(Colchester) and L (Shiel 1977:170) or ML (Mattingly 1960) for
the London mint. Carausius' coinage contain a proliferation of
marks, which may or may not indicate mint location of the issue.
The location of all the mints utilized by Carausius is
uncertain (See Figure 3). London was the most important British
mint, "but there were perhaps four others, one signing itself
with a mint-mark C, another with RSR, a third with no mint-mark
at all and a forth generally placed at Rouen" (Todd 1999:180) in
Northern Gaul. RSR coinage may have been a branch of the London
mint. Coinage bearing the C mark "has recently been placed at
Camulodunum on the evidence of find distributions, though Calleva
and Clausentum have also been proposed" (Todd 1999:180). Coinage
containing no mint-mark has been groundlessly associated with
Boulogne and is generally associated with a possible London
location (Todd 1999:181).

Luzader 42
Figure 3
Possible Mint Locations used by Carausius
L Marked Coins
London is considered to have been the location of the
British Empire's most important mint. The London mint issued
gold, silver, and silvered radiates during the reign of
Carausius. During the reign of Allectus, London issued gold and
silvered radiate issues (Collingwood 1975:63).
Carausius' coinage containing the mark L is more
straightforward. "There seems no reason to dispute the

Luzader 43
attribution of coins with marks including the letter L to a mint
at London, by this time certainly the most important city in
Britain" (Shiel 1977:171). But there is evidence suggesting that
London was not the only mint center utilized by Carausius.
C Marked Coins
The coinage of Carausius bearing the mint mark C has been
identified as issues minted at Colchester (Camulodunum) (Askew
1967:30; Collingwood 1975:64; de la Bedoyere 1999:37; Harl
1996:148; Shiel 1977:174), though Bitterne (Clausentum)
(Collingwood 1975:69; Shiel 1977:174) and Cirenchester (Shiel
1977:174) have been suggested as possible locations for these
issues. All locations have been suggested because they were sites
well established during the reign of Carausius and their place
names all begin with the letter C. Arguments supporting
Colchester as the location for C marked coinage are primarily
based on the existence of the large numbers of C marked coins
recovered at Colchester, but this should be expected because
Roman Colchester was larger than Clausentum, and has been more
extensively excavated than Clausentum (Shiel 1977:176).
Both Colchester and Bitterne are in close proximity to
London, therefore, both locations can be seen as being too close
to the London mint for Carausius to set up a second mint at
either location. Except for the fact that coins bearing the C
mark, Clausentum (Bitterne) would not be considered a candidate
as a mint location (Shiel 1977:176).

Luzader 44
"Colchester was an important place which may have had some
tradition of local coinage on which to enlarge" (Shiel 1977:176).
Because of Colchester's importance, the city may have been one of
the locations minting barbarous coinage prior to the arrival of
Carausius in Britain. If this was the case, Carausius may have
utilized the minting facilities at Colchester for the
establishment of his own mint, thereby controlling the mint
production center at this location. Colchester was not vulnerable
to attack from the Saxon Shore "nor in the hands of a strong
detachment of troops who might stage a coup and communications by
land and sea were good" (Shiel 1977:176).
Besides the actual C mark on Colchester issues, these coins
contain a style that differed from London coins, though there is
debate concerning the actual level of style difference between
the two mints (Shiel 1977:176). "The variations of style are not
so very great and the exceptions and overlaps all suggest a
single mint than several different ones" (Shiel 1977:177). The
notion of only one British mint contains some favorable
arguments, but the argument for variation is that there is no
proof that C and L issues contain any kind of die links.
Carausius' C issues appear in such a large numbers that it
supports the idea of a second mint and there is noticeable
distinction in the different exerguel letters between coins
containing C marks and L marks (See Figure 4). Therefore,
"Colchester is accepted as the probable but not certain location
of the C mint until conclusive evidence is discovered" (Shiel

Luzader 45
Figure 4
C and L mint-marks
Exerguel L mint-mark Exerguel C mint-mark
From Cederlind (1997) From Cummings (1997)
The administrative differences between L, C, and unmarked
issues indicate differences in how each used obverse and reverse
legends. The L mint used six variations of the obverse legend IMP
CARAVSIVS AVG, while C marked coins utilized eight variants, and
unmarked issues contained eleven variants of the legend. Legends
containing IMP C CARAVSIVS, C mints used eight variants, unmarked
issues had seven variants, and the London mint used but one
variant. Based on these attributes, the C marked coinage and
those of the unmarked issues have similar minting practices,
indicating that different mints followed different practices
(King 1985:4).
R Marked Coins
Coinage emanating from the Northern Gaulish city of Rouen
are so clearly distinct from those produced at Carausius' other
mints, that Rouen issues are not mistaken for any other issues,

Luzader 46
or even give credence to the notion of a common mint (Shiel
1977:180), such as London. The distinct style of Rouen coins
contain similarities to coin issues produced by the last Gallic
emperor, Tetricus (A.D. 271-274). Rouen issues differ from the
British mints in both fabric and portraiture. It would seem the
die engravers, who probably had never seen Carausius, were
evidently never given a description of the man (Shiel 1977:181).
Rouen coinage depicts Carausius with a narrow neck instead of the
thick neck as depicted on coinage produced in Britain (Askew
1967:42). Coins produced in Britain portray Carausius with such
uncomplimentary features, their actual existence indicates that
not only was Carausius unconcerned about how his own physical
appearance was portrayed to the population, but gives credence to
the notion that Britain's coinage depicted him more realistically
than the coinage from Rouen, which evidently portrayed Carausius
Coin issues produced at Rouen often contain poor lettering
with garbled legends. Sometimes the exergue mark R can be found,
which gives credence to the attribution of Rouen as Carausius'
Gaulish mint. Also, there has been a sizable hoard recovered at
Rouen consisting entirely of R marked issues, and these issues
have been recovered in other areas of France, though they are
somewhat scarce in Britain (Askew 1967:42; Shiel 1977:181).
Coins bearing the R mint-mark have been recovered from five
British hoards (See Figure 5). Of the five hoards, Gloucester,
Penard Gower, Little Orme, and Blackmoor contain large numbers of

Luzader 47
R marked coins. The Canterbury 2 hoard consists of only eight R
marked coins (Shiel 1977:75).
Figure 5
R mint-mark Hoards
Data from Shiel (1977)
BRI Marked Coins
There exist a limited number of Carausius issues bearing BRI
within the exergue. BRI issues have been associated with a
possible mint at Briconium (Wroxeter) (Mattingly 1960:119; Shiel
1977:177). The alternative meaning for the BRI mark is that it is

Luzader 48
an abbreviation for BRITANNIA. The usage of abbreviations were
likely meaningful to the public as a whole. It would be illogical
to place mint marks on issues if their representation was unknown
to the population (Shiel 1977:177). The limited number of
recovered BRI issues suggest that Wroxeter was not a local mint
utilized on a short term basis. A local mint would have been set
up to meet local demands, but the distribution number of BRI
issues in the Wroxeter area does not indicate Wroxeter as the
mint of issue. The distribution of BRI coins possibly indicate
they were part of a short term issue, produced early in the reign
of Carausius, and likely based at the London mint (Shiel
RSR Coins
The silver coinage produced by Carausius can be categorized
into two groups. The largest of these contain coins bearing the
letters RSR in the exergue and the smaller group consist of coins
bearing no exerguel marks. There is a very limited number of
silver issues bearing the same exerguel marks as are found on
Carausius' radiate issues (Shiel 1977:94).
One theory concerning RSR issues states that these coins
were produced in Richborough. The Richborough hypothesis is based
on the fact that a majority of these coins, excluding hoards,
have been recovered at Richborough. Stylistic similarities, such
as portrature and lettering style, between RSR issues and those
originating from London, indicates that RSR coins originated from

Luzader 49
London (Shiel 1977:138; Todd 1999:180). There is also a RSR gold
coin discovered in London, which contains the same stylistic
similarities as other L marked coinage (Shiel 1977:138).
The RSR coinage of Carausius has been interpreted as meaning
either R(ationalis) S (ummae) R(ei) (Collingwood 1930:196; de la
Bedoyere 1999:34; Vagi 1999b: 405) or R(edeunt) S (aturnia) R(egna)
(de la Bedoyere 1999:34; Vagi 1999b:405). Rationalis Summae Rei
translates "Chief Finance Minister," which was Carausius'
successor, Allectus (Vagi 1999b:405). Reduent Saturnia Regna
translates "The Saturnia Reigns Return." In other words, "the
golden age is back." The line comes from Virgil's Forth Eclogue
(Vagi 1999b:405) and is derived from the myth that the earliest
days of the world consisted of a peaceful paradise ruled by
Saturn (de la Bedoyere 1999:34).
Unmarked Coinage
Coinage issued by Carausius containing no marks in the
exergue are numerous. Originally thought to be issues emanating
from Boulogne, the unmarked issues are now thought to originate
from London. Evidence of hoards show a greater concentration of
unmarked issues "polarizing towards the south east of Britain"
(Shiel 1977:171). The notion that Carausius had set up a major
mint at Boulogne would not be a logistically viable location for
providing Britain's monetary needs, because of the city's
location on the Continental side of the English Channel.

Luzader 50
"The critical problem in regard to the unmarked pieces of
Carausius is to distinguish the official (or genuine) pieces from
the unofficial (i.e. the ancient copies)" (King 1985:1), which
Carausius may have tolerated (Mattingly 1960:119) in order to
supplement his officially sanctioned coinage. This problem is
magnified because the minting of unmarked pieces evidently
appeared early in the reign of Carausius when mint practices had
no continuity. The early L and C issues contained various styles,
fabric, and size, thereby, proving it difficult to distinguish
official from unofficial coinage (King 1985:1). The reason for
the variability of his coinage can be attributed to the fact that
before Carausius, Britain had never officially produced coinage.
"Carausius had no stable of die engravers on which to draw and
while he could have used local craftsmen, perhaps gem engravers,
the crudeness of many of the earliest coins suggests that the
artists he used were anything but of the first rank" (King
1985:1). Style variation can consist of differences in
portraiture and/or lettering. Fabric refers to the alloy content
of the coinage. Size refers not only to weight, but also the
roundness of the coinage.
There is the possibility that Carausius' unmarked issues
predated the establishment of C marked mint issues. The producer
of C marked coinage may not have been fully operational at the
time Carausius had unmarked coinage produced. Once Carausius had
established his C mark mint, he may have found it necessary to
distinguish his coinage with appropriate mint identifications in
order to control the production standards of his coinage.

Luzader 51
Roman coinage did not contain mint-marks until the reign of
Gallienus, in the middle of the third century A.D. Mint-marks
gave the emperor strict control over the moneyer's actions
(Klawans 1995:214). If Carausius had but one British mint, the
need for distinguishing the mint location on his British coinage
was unnecessary until the establishment of other mints.
Coin Hoards
Once coinage was produced, the issues entered circulation
via payments and commercial transactions. What did the people of
antiquity do with their money when not spending it? The Roman
Empire lacked any form of an established banking system. Savings
needed to be hoarded, unless one invested their money. The
tendency for one to hoard was often in response to the economic
conditions at the time. When the value of the coinage was
dropping and coinage was not purchasing as much as it previously
had, the behavior of hoarding increased. The exception to this is
gold coinage, which seldom passed from hand to hand. Hoarding
behavior, due to monetary depreciation, increased in the second
half of the 3rd century, culminating in financial disaster during
the reign of Gallienus (Collingwood 1930:192).
"Strictly speaking, coin is being hoarded whenever it is not
being spent. The money in one's purse or pocket, or in the till
of a shop" (Collingwood 1930:190). Archaeologist define "a lost
purse or a pocketful of loose cash, as a hoard; but in a special
sense the word is used regarding a quantity of coin put by in a

Luzader 52
safe place" (Collingwood 1930:191). In other words, recovered
coinage is often referred to as a hoard, even if its original
deposition was not as a savings of cash.
Once a coin hoard is discovered, there exist two primary
reasons for the hoards actual occurrence. First, the coinage was
deemed worthless by the hoarder and hoarded in hope that it would
recover its purchasing capacity. Second, the hoard's owner died
and knowledge of the hoard's whereabouts was lost (Collingwood
Coin hoards are generally made up of two classes: savings
hoards and floating cash hoards. Hoards consisting of savings
contain pieces pulled from normal circulation over a number of
years. If this was the case then the hoarder "usually chose good
pieces for the hoard" (Collingwood 1930:191). In other words, the
pieces may be in excellent or uncirculated condition. Such a
hoard does not represent the state of the currency at the time of
its deposition, but the financial history of the hoarder, because
the hoard is more indicative of the person's floating cash and
not a savings hoard. A savings hoard may contain a broad range of
specimens and often consist of pieces that were available in
times when the hoarder was able to save. A floating cash hoard
contains mostly coins from one time period along with a
diminishing number of earlier coins. (Collingwood 1930:191).
"The more valuable a coin is, the less often it is carried
about loose, or passed from hand to hand" (Collingwood
1930:191-192). With this in mind, hoards containing gold coinage
usually indicate savings, whereas, a copper hoard is more

Luzader 53
representative of a floating cash hoard. Due to evidence showing
that gold coinage usually shows little wear and "is almost always
relatively good" (Collingwood 1930:192), but it can be marked
even by a fingernail, Gold coinage seldom travels from person to
person, therefore, it is often in better condition even if a long
period of time had passed from its minting to its deposition
(Collingwood 1930:192). Gold withstands wear produced by rubbing
and other forms of contact, but due to the soft nature of its
fabric, it does not withstand scratches.
Britain's monetary condition in the late 3rd century can be
seen in the existence of large coin hoards recovered throughout
the island. The existence of coin hoards can be attributed to the
people stashing away their depreciated radiate currency that
would normally be part of a floating cash hoard, to be retrieved
once the economy improved and the coinage would recover its value
(Collingwood 1975:63). The only other option would be to throw it
Hoards of the British Empire
British-Romano coin hoards were generally deposited in
locations falling into three main classes. The first location
class consists of British-Romano sites, which include military
and civil locals. The second location class are native British
sites. Finally, the third location class consists of sites
containing recognizable landmarks (Robertson 2000:xxiii), such as
boulders, trees, etc..

Luzader 54
Hoards deposited during the reign of Carausius recovered
along the south coast of Britain are few in number. This may
indicate Carausius had secured the area from raiders. Carausius
held naval supremacy in the Channel (Todd 1999:181). On the other
hand, the larger number of hoards recovered along the Severn and
in Wales may indicate evidence of Irish raiders preying on the
region during the reign of Carausius (Robertson 2000:xxiii). This
is not to say that warfare and raiding caused hoarding to
increase, since these situations do not increase a person's
savings, only that the proportions (Collingwood 1930:192) of
hoards "lost increases with every increase in the intensity of
the disturbance" (Collingwood 1930:193).
The number of hoard deposits during the reign of Allectus is
slightly less than that of Carausius. The composition of these
hoards seem to fall into two classes: hoards consisting of only
Rome's legitimate emperors, thereby, excluding coins issued by
Carausius, Allectus, and the Gallic emperors, while other hoards
contain high percentages of Carausius and Allectus issues.
Deposits of these distinct classes are not accidental (Robertson
2000:xxiii). Generally, only 10% of British coin hoards number
over one thousand coins. During the reign of Carausius and
Allectus, the percentage increases to about 15 percent. Almost
50% of their hoards contain over one hundred coins (Shiel
1977:74) (See Figure 7). Of these hoards, coinage produced by
both British Emperors formed a low percentage of all coins (Shiel
1977:75). Data for this research, taken from Robertson (2000),
shows that from one hundred and twenty hoards ending with the

Luzader 55
reign of Carausius and Allectus, there contained 125,743 total
coins. Only 3,079 (2.4%) of the total were attributed to
Coin hoards deposited during the reigns of Carausius or
Allectus (See Figure 6), and hoards predominantly consisting of
Carausius and/or Allectus coinage (See Figure 7), seem to exhibit
two characteristics. First, hoards comprised of only or mostly
issues of Carausius and Allectus are few. Second, the large
hoards deposited during the British Empire contain low
percentages of coins issued by Carausius and Allectus (Shiel
1977:74). "If the contents of these hoards provide a strictly
accurate cross sectional picture of contemporary circulatory
currency then we would have to conclude that less than ten per
cent of it consisted of coins issued by the contemporary
authority" (Shiel 1977:74). Site finds alter this idea,
indicating that production of Carausius and Allectus may have
been larger and more available for hoarding, but the population
spent their coinage instead of hoarding their coinage (Shiel
1977:74). This indicates that Carausius' coinage had a viable
purchasing power that was lacking in coinage produced prior to
his usurpation, thereby increasing the economic stability in
The limited quantity of Carausius' coinage in hoards can be
partially explained as being hoards deposited at the outset of
his reign when a majority of his coinage was not in public
circulation, but this does not explain the lack of his coinage in
later hoards (Shiel 1977:74). Later hoards can be identified by

Luzader 56
the inclusion of mint-marks and information on the legends, such
as the appearance of AVGGG on coinage produced by Carausius from
A.D. 289 to 293. A possible reason for the limited number of
Carausius and Allectus coinage in later hoards may be due to an
increase in the silver content of the coinage eliminating the
need for hoarding, thereby, increasing the purchasing power of
the coinage which helped increase the economic situation of the
island. Another possibility is that Britain was challenging Rome
and Carausius' coinage was being circulated more readily than
Roman coins.
Figure 6
Hoards Terminating A.D. 287-296
From Robertson (2000)

Luzader 57
Figure 7
Hoards Predominantly Carausius and Allectus
From Shiel (1977)

Luzader 58
Figure 8
Hoards of Carausius and Allectus
containing more than 100 coins
From Shiel (1977)

Luzader 59
Silver Content
Since this research originates out of the study of Britain's
coinage during the reigns of Carausius and Allectus, the majority
of the sample coinage originate from Britain. Some of the samples
originate from Continental Europe, especially those representing
the Roman Empire and not the British Empire.
The coinage produced by Carausius needed to contain a silver
content higher than that of the Gallic Empire and at least as
viable as the legitimate issues distributed by the Roman
emperors, Diocletian and Maximian. I suggest that the silver
increase of Carausius' coinage was the political/economic
requirement that he needed in order to be a viable alternative to
the legitimate coinage issued by the Roman authority.
I expect to see an increase of silver content in radiate
coinage during the reign of Carausius as he asserts independence
from Rome. Carausius' radiate coinage needed to increase its
metallic value in order to meet three requirements. First, his
radiate issues needed to become viable in order for Carausius to
justify ceasing the production of high quality silver coinage.
Second, the radiate issues needed to increase to the degree to
which it could viably compete with the coinage of the Roman
authority. Third, the radiate issues needed to be more viable
than the limited number of barbaric imitations and Gallic
radiates that were still circulating in Britain. If Carausius'
radiate issues could meet these three requirements, then his

Luzader 60
usurpation of Britain could be justifiable to the British
RSR Coinage
Table 1 consists of a group of high quality silver coinage,
issued by Carausius, and contains the letters RSR within the
reverse exergue. Table 1 contains sample information taken from
Norman Shiel's report (1977), The Episode of Carausius and
Allectus. This research utilized data pertaining to Carausius,
all data pertaining to Diocletian and Maximian's pre-reform
coinage, and data pertaining to the last Gallic Emperors, the
Table 1 contains data on 90 coins. The coin weight is listed
for each sample. Three of the coins (numbers 88-90) have been
damaged to a major extent and will not be utilized in this
report. The remaining 87 coins provide a reference point to
determine the amount of silver each RSR silver coin contained and
to determine the number of radiate issues that could possibly be
produced using the same amount of silver. I want to determine the
silver content level radiate coinage needed to achieve in order
for Carausius to justify the cessation of his high quality silver
Carausisus' silver coinage contained a silver purity of 90%
(de la Bedoyere 1999:33) and was struck at 84 to the Roman pound
(Shiel 1977:140). None of the 90 samples of Table 1 have been
tested to determine whether de la Bedoyere's statement can be

Luzader 61
confirmed. Shiel's data originated from his 1977 research report,
and therefore is 25 years old. Additional research addressing the
silver content pertaining to high quality silver coinage may have
been done during this interim.
Table 1
Carausius' RSR Silver Coinage
# Weight # Weight # Weight # Weight
1 4.4 24 4.63 47 5.69 70 4.26
2 2.62 25 2.57 48 3.19 71 2.75
3 3.73 26 4.65 49 4.67 72 3.78
4 4.3 27 2.96 50 4.05 73 3.47
5 3.5 28 4.67 51 4.34 74 3.7
6 4.79 29 2.67 52 3.4 75 4.17
7 2.52 30 5.08 53 4.02 76 3.31
8 2.98 31 4.24 54 4.62 77 2.8
9 3.88 32 3.09 55 4.38 78 3.13
10 3.69 33 3.59 56 4.15 79 4.25
11 5.22 34 2.62 57 4.34 80 4.06
12 3.4 35 3.94 58 2.76 81 2.95
13 4.61 36 2.79 59 2.76 82 3.65
14 2.55 37 4.35 60 3.3 83 3.72
15 3.42 38 4.55 61 4.17 84 4.29
16 3.89 39 4.14 62 4.57 85 2.99
17 4.17 40 3.61 63 3.39 86 3.75
18 4.4 41 2.76 64 2.7 87 4.1
19 4.46 42 4.19 65 3.27 88 2.37*
20 3.57 43 3.82 66 3.68 89 3.07*
21 3.34 44 3.69 67 3.8 90 2.00*
22 3.34 45 4.41 68 3.77
23 4.63 46 4.17 69 2.77
* indicates the coin contains major damage
Data from Shiel (1977)
Radiate Coinage
Table 2 contains information taken
from the British Museum's
Occasional Paper Number 120 (Cope et al 1997). The data provided

Luzader 62
in Table 2 were collected via a destructive metallurgical
examination to determine a coin's alloy content. The argument for
a planned destructive examination is that such a method removes
uncertainties that exist in non-destructive techniques (Cope et
al 1997:1). Destructive examination is capable of determining
nine common elements of a coin as long as the proportions are
greater than 0.01% for samples that range between 0.05 grams and
1.5 grams in weight (Cope et al 1997:2).
A planned destructive examination "is a wet-chemical
procedure involving preliminary sample attack and dissolution,
followed by sequential quantitative separations of the elements
by specific precipitation's with added reagents." This is
followed by removing the cooper at the proper point "by the
electrolytic deposition method" (Cope et al 1997:2)
Table 2 contains eighteen radiates issued by the legitimate
Roman emperors, Diocletian and Maximian; seven radiates issued by
the last Gallic Emperors, the Tetrici; and eight radiates issued
by Carausius. Each sample contains the name of the emperor of
issue, the coin's weight, mint, and the major elements: silver
(Ag), lead (Pb), tin (Sn), and copper (Cu).

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Table 2
Ruler Mint Weight Ag% Pb% Sn% Cu%
1 Diocletian Lug 3.11 4.13 2.18 2.81 90.43
2 Diocletian Lug 4.57 4.08 2.76 0.69 92.07
3 Maximian Lug 3.46 3.57 2.29 2.02 91.62
4 Maximian Lug 4.01 4.23 2.03 0.45 92.66
5 Maximian Lug 3.01 3.92 NA 0.35 NA
6 Diocletian Rome 3.48 1.36 NA NA NA
7 Maximian Rome 3.13 0.12 4.92 2.73 91.47
8 Maximian Rome 3.42 3.3 NA NA NA
9 Diocletian Antioch 3.07 2.99 0.81 2.35 92.33
10 Diocletian Antioch 4.66 2.3 NA NA NA
11 Diocletian Antioch 2.88 3 NA NA NA
12 Diocletian Antioch 3.92 3.58 NA NA NA
13 Maximian Antioch 3 3.56 5.33 2.33 88.55
14 Tetrici Trier 3.09 1.85 0.09 0.13 97.33
15 Tetrici Trier 4.02 1.09 0.69 0.23 97.65
16 Tetrici Trier 2.46 1.04 0.45 0.05 98.29
17 Tetrici Cologne 3.2 0.94 0.66 0.15 97.87
18 Tetrici Cologne 2.17 0.91 1.26 0.18 97.43
19 Tetrici Cologne 3 1.21 1.16 0.09 97.22
20 Tetrici Cologne 2.94 0.96 0.82 0.13 97.54
21 Carausius Unmarked 3.09 0.08 8.78 4.29 86.42
22 Carausius Unmarked 3.74 0.16 1.58 0.48 97.7
23 Carausius Unmarked 3.32 0.17 3.24 1.23 94.88
24 Carausius Unmarked 3.52 0.08 1.14 0.084 96.57
25 Carausius London 3.96 2.17 1.12 0.15 95.91
26 Carausius London 3.43 2.59 1.46 1.88 92.81
27 Carausius C Mint 2.79 1.46 0.21 0.08 96.4
28 Carausius C Mint 2.7 1.6 NA 2.51 NA
Lug = Lugdunum (Lyons)
Data from Cope et al (1997)
The coins issued by Carausius are not indicative of the
later silver increases produced by Carausius. All the samples
contain AVG on the coin's obverse and/or reverse legends.
Carausius' radiate issues began to conform to Roman standards by
about A.D. 289 and the reverse legends contained AVGGG (Askew

Luzader 64
1967:35; Shiel 1977:19) instead of AVG. Each "G" was a
representation of each emperor: Diocletian, Maximian, and
Carausius (Askew 1967:35; Vagi 1999b:406). The AVGGG legend also
was used on Carausius' triple bust coinage, associating himself
with the two legitimate emperors (Johnson 1976:30). The AVGGG
legend on his coinage indicates that Carausius was not trying to
establish a separate state but associating himself with the
Rome's legitimate emperors. He wanted to be a co-emperor, with
Britain as one of the three imperial thrones.
I suggest that Carausius' issues continued to increase
silver purity. According to Vagi (1999b:86), the silver content
of Carausius' radiates reached 4.5 to 5% silver per coin. Sample
data with AVGGG in the legend is required to determine whether
Carausius' radiates reached the silver content that Vagi has
suggested. Carausius began to issue coins with the AVGGG legends
at the same time he ceased issuing high quality silver issues
(Shiel 1977:138). I suggest that once the radiates reached a
particular silver purity, Carausius ceased issuing silver coinage
because the more viable radiate issues met Britain's monetary
The 28 coins from Table 2 were used for conducting a cluster
analysis (Attached after Discussion section) to determine if
coins produced by Carausius were different in their mineral
content from coinage produced by the Gallic or Roman Empires. The
particular kind of cluster analysis performed for this research
is Wards.

Luzader 65
The variables for the analysis are silver percentage (Ag,
lead percentage (Pb), tin percentage (Sn), and copper percentage
(Cu). The labeling variable is the Mint location. Mint locations
include Lug(dunum), Rome, Antioch, Trier, Cologne, Unmarked,
London, and C mint.
The analysis was stopped at the two cluster solution. All
the Gallic coins, two unmarked coins, one C mint, and one London
coin were in one grouping. All the coins from the legitimate
emperors, two unmarked coins, and one London coin were clustered
into another grouping. Based on the data, there is an indication
of metallic differences between the Gallic coins and the
legitimate issues. Coinage of Carausius was clustered in both
groups, indicating that some of his coinage was metalically
similar to coinage of the Roman Empire.
To determine the silver weight of the coinage I have devised
a simple formula that can be used for individual coins or for
group averages. It must be noted that the atomic weight for each
alloy has not been calculated into these equations, which may
skew the mathematical results but not the implications.
(weight divided by 100) x silver content = average weight of
silver per coin
The average weight for the silver coins from Table 1 is
3.76. Assuming de la Bedoyere is correct in his statement that
Carausius' silver coinage contained 90% silver, then we apply the

Luzader 66
above formula. (3.76 / 100) x 90 = 3.38 (average weight of silver
per coin). To check the work, simply use the same formula and
multiply by the percentage of non-silver alloys.
The Roman coinage from Table 2 can be broken down into three
sections, based on mints. Based on the five samples from the
Lugdunum mint, the sample radiates have the average weight of
3.63 grams and an average silver content of 3.97 percent. The
three samples from the Rome mint have an average weight of 3.34
grams and an average silver content of 1.59 percent. The five
samples from the Antioch mint have an average weight of 3.51
grams and an average silver content of 3.09 percent. The thirteen
samples as a whole have an average weight of 3.52 grams and an
average silver content of 3.09%, which closely corresponds to the
data from the Antioch mint. The average silver weight was
calculated as follows, (3.52 / 100) x 3.09 = 0.11 grams(average
weight of silver per coin).
Diocletian reformed the empire's coinage around A.D. 293/4.
He eliminated the prior radiate issues and introduced a short
lived, silver coin similar to that of Carausius (Vagi 1999b:421).
The empire's new silver denomination (argenteus) was struck at 96
to the Roman pound with a silver purity of 90% (Vagi 1999a:94).
The average weight from 560 argenteus samples is 3.09 grams (West
1941:186) .
The sample data of Diocletian's silver coinage indicates a
silver content of only 3.09%, which is 0.6 to 1.1% lower than the
expected silver content for Carausius' later radiates. The
introduction of the argenteus may have taken place for similar

Luzader 67
reasons that Carausius introduced his silver coinage. Diocletian
and Maximian may have realized that their radiate coinage was no
longer viable enough to maintain the Roman economy, therefore
they introduced the argenteus to maintain troop loyalty and
booster the economic situation.
The Roman coins from Table 2 and Diocletian's argenteus were
not issued contemporaneously, but there must have been an
exchange rate in order for the government to recall the radiate
issues. It is unknown whether the exchange was based on an
abstract rate of exchange or on the silver value of the coinage.
The silver weight of the argenteus would be based on the
following, (3.09 / 100) x 90 = 2.781 gm. (average silver weight
per coin).
The number of radiates that could be potentially produced
from a single argenteus (based on the silver amount) was
calculated as follows, average silver weight divided by the
average silver weight of the radiate 2.781 / .11 (silver
weight) = 25.28 = number of silver radiates based on silver
weight alone.
The Gallic radiates have an average weight of 2.98 grams and
an average silver content of 1.14% resulting in the silver weight
of (2.98 / 100) x 1.14 = .034 grams. To determine the number of
Gallic radiates (based on silver amount alone) that can be made
from a single silver coin of Carausius, the following formula was
done. 3.38 / 0.034 = 99.4 Gallic radiates from the silver in one
high silver content coin.

Luzader 68
The eight coins by Carausius have an average weight of 3.32
and an average silver content of 1.04 percent. Silver weight of
these coins is 0.35 grams. The number of radiates (based on
silver amount) from a single silver issue was calculated, (3.38 /
0.035) resulting in 98 radiates. If the silver purity of
Carausius' later radiates was 4.5 percent, then the formula
indicates that 22.6 radiates could be produced from the silver it
took to produce one silver coin. If the silver content was 5
percent then 20.4 radiates could be produced.
The coin radiates issued by the legitimate empire average
3.09 percent silver, which is higher than the samples of
Carausius' early radiates, but not as high if Vagi's (1999b:86)
statement that Carausius' radiates increased to 4.5 to 5% silver
is accurate. Even without Carausius' later radiates, the later
Gallic radiates average only 0.1% more silver than that of
Carausius' earlier radiates. This indicates that even without
accepting Vagi's statement about the silver content of Carausius'
later radiates, his issues were more viable than the Gallic
issues still circulating within Britain during his reign.
The mathematical model used to determine the amount of
silver to produce an average radiate and high quality silver coin
was done in order to understand the desired level of silver the
radiate coinage needed to obtain to be considered viable enough
for Carausius to justify the cessation of his high quality
silver. If Vagi's statement holds true, then that level was 4.5
to 5% silver.

Luzader 69
Carausius needed to produce radiate coinage that had the
silver content to compete with coinage produced by the Roman
authority in order to maintain the loyalty of his troops and to
continue receiving the support of Britain's population. The
coinage needed to have a metallic value capable of reinstituting
commerce in Britain and make the island a favorable region for
other areas to establish trade links with.
The data shows that Carausius utilized Britain's labor and
raw materials to stabilize and increase the island's economic
structure. The Roman Empire was restricting the circulation of
its coinage. Britain had not been receiving coinage from Rome,
and was starving for legitimate coinage. Before the arrival of
Carausius, independent entrepreneurs were independently minting
barbaric imitations to help Britain with it monetary shortages.
After Carausius usurped Britain, he commenced with the production
of high quality silver issues while producing radiate coinage
that underwent gradual increases in silver content.

Luzader 70
The emphasis of this research is to provide an understanding
of why and how Carausius gained the loyalty and support of his
troops, while creating economic stability in Britain and
Northern Gaul. The study focuses mainly on coinage produced in
Britain and Northern Gaul under the reign of Carausius. The
coinage analyzed was recovered from contexts associated with the
reigns of Carausius, Allectus, the end of the Gallic Empire, and
the joint reigns of the legitimate emperors: Diocletian and
Maximian. I must point out that this study does not incorporate
coinage of Carausius recovered in hoards or other finds
associated with later emperors (A.D. 305 and after). With this in
mind, though these finds may only contain limited material, more
research may be warranted.
The most important result of this study has been the
recognition of the increased silver content of Carausius' radiate
issues over time. Previous sections presented evidence indicating
that the increase in silver content provided Carausius the
support required from Britain's population to be a viable
political and economic alternative to the domination of the Roman
Empire. Initially, his radiate issues consisted of overstrikes of
barbaric radiates and low quality radiates issued by Emperor
Gallienus (de la Bedoyere 1999:33), utilizing Aurelian's
post-reform production standards (Casey 1994). Carausius' post
emergency issues show a gradual, though important, increase in

Luzader 71
silver content, thereby increasing the value of the issue's
metallic content.
Apart from Carausius' high quality silver issues, which
strengthened his position in both the military and provided
Britain with immediate economic relief, his early unmarked
radiates contained extremely low silver content, as seen in Table
2. His unmarked coinage was followed by L and C marked issues
show substantial increase in silver content. Coinage containing L
and C marks contain silver contents ranging from 1 to 2 percent
(Cope et al 1997). The sample data in Table 2 shows the silver
content of L and C marked issues ranging between 1.46 to 2.59%,
which closely resembles the recognized production standards of
Gallic Emperor Victorinus (A.D. 269-271) (Cope et al 1997:6).
The model predicts the level of silver content Carausius'
radiate coinage needed to obtain to justify the cessation of his
high quality silver issues. The model accepts Vagi's claims
(1999b:86) that Carausius' later radiate coinage had a silver
content of 4.5 to 5 percent. If Vagi's assumptions are correct,
then radiate coinage containing 4.5 to 5% silver was viable
enough to maintain troop loyalty and maintain the island's
economy without the need for high quality silver issues. The
silver contents of Carausius' later radiate issues needed to
match or exceed Imperial Roman radiates (Table 2). When this
occurred, Carausius no longer felt compelled to produce special
high quality silver issues to maintain military support, but
could do so with the production of radiate coinage containing
greater value of its metallic content than Roman radiates.

Luzader 72
This research was unable to recover sample data consisting
of Carausius' radiate issues bearing the mark AVGGG within the
legend. Radiates containing AVGGG in the legend appeared on his
radiate issues following his peace plan with Rome in A.D. 289
(Askew 1967:35; Shiel 1977:19). Carausius discontinued issuing
high quality silver coinage in A.D. 289 (Shiel 1977:138) or A.D.
290 (Askew 1967). This indicates that his AVGGG radiate issues
contained higher amounts of silver than his earlier issues and
therefore had a value of its metallic content capable of
maintaining Britain's economy and supporting his political
Carausius' gradual increase of silver content in his radiate
coinage needs to be addressed. Based on the assumption Carausius
was increasing the silver content of his radiate issues to
justify the cessation of his high quality silver coinage while
maintaining the stability of the economy, the reason why he did
not immediately create radiate coinage with higher silver content
can be explained by the economic stress that would accompany such
a drastic imbalance in the exchange rate between low quality
Gallic and barbaric radiates and new radiate issues containing
higher silver content. This is evident by the fact that even with
the gradual silver increase to his coinage, Carausius discovered
some of the population found the exchange rate unacceptable and
were reluctant to exchange their old coins for new radiates
containing but a slight increase in silver (Johnson 1976:27).
On the anthropological level, this study demonstrates the
economic stress created when the Roman core extracted resources

Luzader 73
from peripheral Britain. Extraction of Britain's lead and silver
by the Roman authority cannot be categorized as commerce in the
typical sense, but as coerced exchange of precious and base
metals for imperial currency (Collingwood 1975). In other words,
Throughout the Roman Empire, there was a collapse of silver
stocks and the Roman government drastically restricted the
circulation of silver coinage (Heichelheim 1970:215). Once the
flow of imperial coinage into Britain and Northern Gaul dwindled
and practically ceased, the region was starved for viable coinage
(Harl 1996). The monetary reforms of Aurelian failed to make
their way into the region. Britain continued to export raw
material to the Roman core, but was not receiving the economic
incentives important for maintaining the island's willingness to
continue its interaction with the Roman core. Individual
entrepreneurs in Britain took the initiative by producing
barbaric imitations (Casey 1994; de la Bedoyere 1999; Harl 1996)
and counterfeits (Harl 1996) of radiate coinage based on coinage
of the Gallic Empire (de la Bedoyere 1999:30). Particular
elements in Britain were demonstrating a level of economic
independence in response to Rome's apparent monetary abandonment
of Britain.
Carausius' usurpation of Britain from Rome officially
severed Britain as a periphery to Rome. Causausius establishment
of mints only legitimized the continuation of the process Britain
was compelled to follow prior to Carausius' arrival. Only now the
process was sanctioned by a political authority with military

Luzader 7 4
backing. Carausius, in his mind, was officially utilizing the
island's ores for their own economic requirements. Carausius'
administration of Britain was by the Roman model, with former
Roman administrators and structure, but having at their disposal
the surplus and labor normally allocated to production centers of
the Roman core.
How Britain's cessation as a Roman periphery affected the
Roman Empire was not the emphasis of this study, but there exist
particular actions on the part of Imperial Rome that may provide
a better understanding of the importance of Britain's resources
to Rome. Rome also had to respond to the presence of a
potentially hostile state.
In A.D. 286, the year of Carausius' usurpation of Britain,
Rome's junior emperor, Maximian, closed the gold producing mint
of Lugdunum (Lyons). The gold stocks from Lugdunum likely were
transferred to Rome. The closure of the Lugdunum mint is a strong
indication that the threat of Carausius' presence in Northern
Gaul was to Imperial Rome (Burnett and Casey 1985:11).
Britain's silver mines were not as important to Rome as the
mines in Spain and Dacia, but they still were an essential source
of silver for the Roman Empire (Collingwood 1975:34). Emperor
Diocletian initiated a coin reform in A.D. 293/4. He ceased
production of the existing radiate issues replacing them with a
series of base metal denominations and a new silver issue similar
to that of Carausius' (Vagi 199b:421), known as the argenteus
(Vagi 1999b:94). Diocletian's reform may have been his reaction
to the Empire's own economic instability and the loss of

Luzader 75
Britain's silver resources. Argentei were produced in bulk, but
saw little circulation within the empire. Diocletian's silver
issues ended up being "hoarded, melted or exported to the East to
be recoined into Sasanian dirhems" (Vagi 1999b:94).
Carausius took Britain by force and stabilized his position
via money payments to his troops (Todd 1999:180). Emperor
Maximian undertook an ill fated attempt at reconquering Britain
in A.D. 289, which led to a temporary peace plan between Rome and
Carausius (Todd 1999:180; Vagi 1999a:405). Rome exhibited concern
over having a potentially hostile neighbor. The legitimate
emperors needed to reestablish control over Britain's resources
and needed to expand its boundaries and influence to a manageable
extent in order to maintain its economic survival. The empire
eventually reconquered Britain in A.D. 296 (Vagi 1999a:408),
thereby reincorporating Britain as a periphery of Rome.
This research shows how viable coinage can be influential as
a tool for maintaining loyalty and cooperation of a periphery to
the core. The circulation of dependable currency, from the core
to the periphery, could nullify potential stresses that could
lead to cutting core/periphery ties. Coinage is a reflection of
the economic stability of a state. If the coinage is weak and
undependable, so might be the state. The development of a strong
monetary base has the potential of increasing the population's
confidence in the local economy or polity. Carausius recognized
Rome's economic instability and used it against them in his
usurpation of Britain.

Case Processing Summary3
Valid Missing Total
N Percent N Percent N Percent
21 75.0% 7 25.0% 28 100.0%
i. Correlation between Vectors of Values used
rd Linkage
Agglomeration Schedule
age Cluster Combined Coefficients Stage Cluster First Appears Next Stage
Cluster 1 Cluster 2 Cluster 1 Cluster 2
9 10 O O m 0 0 4
11 14 .999 0 0 4
8 21 1.496 0 0 12
9 11 1.994 1 2 11
16 18 2.491 0 0 14
6 20 2.986 0 0 13
1 3 3.480 0 0 13
12 13 3.972 0 0 11
2 4 4.457 0 0 18
i 5 15 4.939 0 0 15
9 12 5.421 4 8 14
: 8 19 5.857 3 0 17
i 1 6 6.271 7 6 16
9 16 6.602 11 5 17
i 5 17 6.872 10 0 19
i 1 7 7.105 13 0 18
8 9 7.189 12 14 20
\ 1 2 7.146 16 9 19
i 1 5 5.712 18 15 20
i 1 8 -.010 19 17 0
Page 1

ster Membership
se 3 Clusters
ug 1
ug 1
ug 1
-ug 1
tom 2
\nt 1
tot 1
T ri 3
rri 3
:T ri 3
:Col 3
:Col 3
:Col 3
:Col 3
:UnM 2
:UnM 3
:UnM 2
:UnM 3
:Lon 3
:Lon 1
:C 3

drogram using Ward Method
Rescaled Distance Cluster Combine
: A S E 0
bel Num
i 9 1
i 10
i 11
i 14
i 12
i 13
,M 16
iM 18
i 8
n 19 1
m 5 |
M 15
M 17
g 2
g 4
t 6
n 20
g 1
g 3
.t 7
Page 3

Luzader 76
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