3.3 Bronze

Just as was the case for siliquae, the supply of bronze coinage to Britain in the early 5th century AD was limited. Bronze nummi of the VICTORIA AVGGG type ceased to be struck in Trier, Arles and Lyons mints in c.AD 395 with Aquileia following suit soon afterwards (Delmaire 1983, 166) In the west, only Rome continued to issue SALVS REI PVBLICAE nummi until AD 402. (LRBC 109, VICTORIA AVGGG type 2; for a general overview of late Roman coinage, see RIC X and Moorhead 2012; for a general overview of late Roman coinage in Britain, see Reece 2002, 59-66; PAS record BH-FCCB01)

In the short period between AD 402 and 407/11, only a handful of nummi are known to have arrived in Britain. These include two VRBS ROMA FELIX pieces from the mint of Rome (AD 404-8), one from near Bowood, Wiltshire, and another from near Guildford, Surrey. Another piece was reported to have been found at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, but there is some question as to whether this example actually represents an ancient loss (RIC X, 1271-83; King 1977/8, 185, no. 448; Kent 1954, 119, n8; Robertson 2000, 363, no. 1494; Collins 2008, 359). Five further coins from unclear eastern Mediterranean mints are recorded from Britain: a VIRTVS EXERCITI piece of Arcadius (AD 395-401) and a Theodosius II CONCORDIA AVGGG cross type (AD 404-6) both from the Isle of Wight; as well as three GLORIA ROMANORVM (three emperor) pieces of the House of Theodosius (struck AD 406-8) from Didcot (Oxon), Great Chesterford (Essex) and just north of Hadrian's Wall, from a small hoard at Great Whittington (Northumberland).

After AD 411, only nine nummi with British findspots are known. One is a GLORIA ROMANORVM piece of Theodosius II, probably from Thessalonica (struck AD 408-23) said to be from Clywd (Abdy and Williams 2006, 31, no. 56, type as RIC X, 395ff). There are three nummi of the VICTORIA AVGG type struck for Honorius in Rome (c.AD 421-3) one certainly from Verulamium and two possibly from Richborough (Abdy and Williams 2006, 30, nos 48-50, RIC X, 1357). Finally, there are five nummi of Valentinian III, dating to c.AD 425-35: one VICTORIA AVGG two Victories type from near St Albans, Hertfordshire (Abdy and Williams 2006, 31, 57, RIC X, 2131-2), one VOT PVB camp-gate piece from Wroxeter, Salop (Abdy and Williams 2006, 31, 58; RIC X, 2135), and three VICTORIA AVGGG Victory advancing coins from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, near St Albans, Hertfordshire, and Richborough, Kent (Abdy and Williams 2006, 31-2, nos 59-61, RIC X, 2138-9).

Few sites have large assemblages of Theodosian nummi, although several coin assemblages from southern and south-western Britain include significant numbers of Theodosian pieces. These include various sites across London (Gerrard 2011a; 2011b), Silchester, in Hampshire (Reece 1991 45), Wanborough and Nettleton in Wiltshire (Reece 1991, 64-5 and 131) and Cirencester and Uley in Gloucestershire (Reece 1991, 39-4 and 140). Beyond the south, however, there are only a handful of sites with significant numbers of late coins. These include Water Newton in Cambridgeshire, Ashton in Northamptonshire and Sapperton in Lincolnshire (Reece 1991, 44, 80-1, 76), as well as three sites on Hadrian's Wall; Vindolanda, Corbridge and South Shields (Collins 2013).

Against a backdrop of minimal bronze supply and limited use, the large quantities of late Roman nummi of the House of Theodosius (AD 388-402) recovered during excavations at Richborough in Kent and Caerwent in Wales are significant. A total of 27,000 nummi and 6,000 nummi respectively were found at these sites (Reece 1991, 119; Robertson 2000, 379-82, nos 1543-1555A; Guest and Wells 2007, 24-43, nos 18-63) as well as several hoards, some containing thousands of coins (Robertson 2000, 379-382, 1543-1551A, 401-2, 1611-15). While interpretation of this material is difficult, these sites with their close military links must have fulfilled a special function in the early 5th century AD, where large quantities of bronze coinage were either needed or could be discarded en masse.