Roman Gold from Finstock, AD 70

Coin Room Lobby, Gallery 36


Focus on the Object

This Roman gold coin of the emperor Vespasian was struck in AD 70 and found about 1850 at Finstock, Oxfordshire. The coin has the head of Vespasian on one side and the figure of Justice on the other. A gold coin such as this represented a month’s pay for a legionary soldier.

The coin is remarkable in that it was struck not in Rome but in the East, in Judaea, quite possibly from gold from the Roman sack of Jerusalem in AD 70 when the Temple was destroyed. The figure of Justice on the reverse suggests that the Romans choose to represent the bloody suppression of the Jewish Revolt as imperial Justice. Half a million died.

The coin probably came to Britain as part of a significant movement of gold from east to west shortly after the Jewish War. The most obvious explanation is that the transfer of the gold reflects some kind of military movement from Judaea to Britain in the aftermath of the Jewish Revolt. This was a time of renewed Roman conquest in Britain, which was only just recovering from its own revolt under Boudicca (Boadicea).