COINS OF PRASUTAGUS
Norfolk, England
40-59 CE
Gold
British Museum, London
Photo after Braund, 133


Since so few written accounts of early Britain are in existence, scholars have come to rely on coinage as a historical account of the lands earliest rulers. In some places where only names of kings have survived, the study of coins has helped assign a possible time period to their reign. By observing the evolving stylistic details of the coins, a chronology of their reigns can be constructed. We are to assume that the coins served two purposes. The first is of a monetary nature, while the second is a method of propaganda for the ruler; often depicting them with idealized characteristics and minted to celebrate any victories or achievements.

This coin of Prasutagus, King of the Iceni and husband of Boudicca, is viewed in contrast with the previous coins of the Iceni. The reverse face of the coin is consistent with Celtic tradition in that it is highly ornamental. The depiction of the horse also typifies the Celtic adoration of animals. On the obverse face, however, the supposed head of the king is "Romanized", indicating the recent influx of the Romans and their culture into the native land. This idealized head was the first sign of development away from Celtic tradition towards a Roman one. Written around the head in a crude yet complex Latin are the words "SUBRIIPRASTO" which has been broken down to possibly read "under King Prasutagus", while around the horse it reads "ESICO FECIT", or "this coin" (Braund, 133).

 

Braund, 133