A rare set of 300 Iron Age coins dating to the first century BC has been discovered on an HS2 construction site in west London.
The Iron Age ‘potins’, or small coins, were discovered in Hillingdon last year and their significance could see them being recognised as ‘treasure’ under British law.
The coins were struck in Marseille in France around 2,175 years ago and have the left-facing head of Apollo on one side and a bull charging on the other.
The coins are typically a mixture of copper, tin and lead.
Describing the discovery, Emma Tetlow, now working as historic environment lead for HS2’s main works contractor Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture, said: “We were coming to the end of our archaeological work on the site when we found a patch of soil that was a very different colour from what it was expected to be.
“The patch of soil was dark greeny-blue which suggests oxidised metal, and when we checked more closely, we could see loosely packed metal discs. This is a once-in-a-lifetime find, and allows us to expand our knowledge of what life could have been like in Hillingdon many centuries ago.”
Because of the significance of the find, and the number of coins, the local coroner has been alerted. The coroner will determine whether the discovery amounts to ‘treasure’ under the Treasure Act after considering specialist evidence from the British Museum – and whether a museum wishes to acquire the coins.
The value of the hoard has not yet been determined, nor has its future location.