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50 BC coin bearing the name Esunertos, a previously unknown Iron Age British king.	Source: Spinks Auctions

A New Iron Age King in Britain? Gold Coin Found Stamped with the Name 'Esunertos'

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Britain’s history may have just undergone a significant addition, thanks to the remarkable discovery of a coin bearing the name of a forgotten Iron Age ruler. The coin was unearthed by a metal detectorist in a Hampshire field and carries the inscription 'Esunertos.' Experts are speculating that Esunertos may have reigned as a king from the formidable Danebury Fort, and this discovery has been heralded as "one of the outstanding discoveries of recent decades."

Initially, the gold coin was expected to fetch around £4,000 ($5000) at auction. However, it exceeded all expectations by setting a new record at Spinks Auction, selling for a staggering £20,400 ($25,500), reports the Daily Mail.

The coin was found by Lewis Fudge, a metal detectorist who received permission to search a farmer's field in March this year. Lewis Fudge expressed his elation, stating:

"I am over the moon. If it were not for people in the auction room, I would have jumped around. The collectors I spoke to are gobsmacked. I'm so glad I did not take them up on their private offers before the auction. To think my find has generated its own Wikipedia page is incredible."

Lewis Fudge found the coin bearing the name of an Iron Age king in a field in Hampshire. (Spink Auctions)

Lewis Fudge found the coin bearing the name of an Iron Age king in a field in Hampshire. (Spink Auctions)

Crowning the Iron Age King Esunertos

Leading Iron Age experts have analyzed the coin and believe it to be associated with a prominent male figure known as 'IISVNIRTOS,' or ‘Esunertos' translating to 'Mighty as the God Esos.' One theory suggests that Esunertos could have ruled as king from Danebury Hill fort.

Dr. John Sills of the Celtic Coin Index at the Ashmolean Museum lauded the discovery, calling it "one of the outstanding discoveries of recent decades in Celtic numismatics."

The coin, estimated to have been minted between 50 and 30 BC, coincided with Julius Caesar's first Roman raid of Britain in 55 BC when the Roman general landed on the Kent coast with 20,000 soldiers. Despite a confrontation with Celtic warriors on the beach, the Romans encountered difficulties landing due to rough seas and eventually had to return home.

 The coin bearing the name Esunertos. Left, obverse, Right, reverse (Spink Auction)

The coin bearing the name Esunertos. Left, obverse, Right, reverse (Spink Auction)

Spink Auctions describe the coin as a quarter slater with the obverse side of the coin bearing the name Esunertos in Latin, and with the worn head of Apollo formed of three interlocking rows of outward facing crescents, a seven-spoked wheel at center in lieu of the ear, and an eye of visage with radiating spike towards neck line.

The reverse of the coin has tripled-tailed horse, with pincer-like mandible for face and linear ear, with pelleted mane, yoke or bucranium above the head, an 8-spoked wheel above spearing into the horse’s back, and double or triple ringed annulet below.

The Time of King Esunertos

Esunertos' reign, if confirmed, would have occurred well before the Roman invasion and subsequent occupation of Britain, which did not happen until 43 AD during the reign of Emperor Claudius.

Gregory Edmund, Iron Age Coin Specialist at auctioneers Spink, who led the team of experts in documenting this find, remarked:

"This fabulous piece of prehistoric artwork completes the mental image we have when we think of Iron Age Britain - the war horse and chariot. But it also surprises us with the appearance of classical languages like Latin."

Edmund continued, "This is the reason I come to work; to document the discoveries of national importance and share that knowledge directly with museums and amongst academics, collectors, and the public at large."

He concluded with a sense of historical vindication, stating, "Esunertos was once forgotten, but now his name looms large in the historic record."

The discovery of the coin bearing Esunertos' name has opened a fascinating new chapter in the history of Iron Age Britain, which might shed light on a previously overlooked ruler and his era. But Esos is a thought to be a Gaulish god, so before we conclude for sure that this is a new ruler that governed a territory in what is now England, other possibilities will need to be discounted.

Top image: 50 BC coin bearing the name Esunertos, a previously unknown Iron Age king. Source: Spinks Auctions

By Gary Manners

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Gary is an editor and content manager for Ancient Origins. He has a BA in Politics and Philosophy from the University of York and a Diploma in Marketing from CIM. He has worked in education, the educational sector, social work... Read More

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