Saturday, 30 June 2012

Jersey coin hoard

The discovery of a huge hoard of Gaulish and Roman coins in Jersey has hit the headlines recently. An interesting overview of the hoard and its significance is given by ASNC alumna Carly Hilts in Current Archaeology. Further press coverage can be found in the Guardian, the Independent and on the BBC News website.

Dr Rory Naismith, a numismatics expert based in ASNC, gives us some further context for the find:
Coinage was already well known among the pre-Roman peoples of what is now France and Britain long before the Roman conquest. Gold, electrum, silver and base-metal pieces were all made in large volume, many of them bearing rich and artistically accomplished designs. Some also carry the names of kings or mint-places. This major find sheds light on the scale of the Iron-Age currency, and on interaction with the Roman world around the time of Caesar's campaigns in Gaul (c. 50 BC). It constitutes the largest collection of Iron-Age coins ever found, containing approximately 50,000 Iron-Age copper-alloy and silver pieces, along with some Roman pieces. Most of the Iron-Age coins were probably made in Armorica, the region of Gaul now known as Brittany and Normandy. Importantly, its finders - who had been searching with metal-detectors - alerted local archaeological authorities when the nature of the discovery became clear. The hoard was subsequently excavated with all due care, and will be examined thoroughly in a controlled context. It promises to be a major resource for a period when archaeological sources (including coinage) are the principal form of evidence.
Dr Paul Russell, our Head of Department, whose research interests include the Continental Celtic languages, such as Gaulish, adds:
Gaulish tribes acquired literacy as a result of contact with first Greek and then Roman scripts in the second and first centuries BC. Numerous inscriptions, some very lengthy, survive written in Gaulish, the Celtic language of Gaul. One important source of linguistic data is numismatic with many of the coins having the names of rulers or tribes on them though sometimes abbreviated, and often badly worn and difficult to decipher. Even so, this new hoard, particularly in view of its size, promises to add more names to the dossier.
We look forward to discovering what new evidence the hoard reveals about Gaulish history, language and culture.

Thursday, 21 June 2012


Congratulations to Dr Paul Russell (soon to be Prof. Paul Russell) who has been promoted to a personal Chair of Celtic in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, and to Dr Rosalind Love, who has been promoted to a Readership, from 1st October 2012.

Congratulations also to ASNC PhD student George Younge: George has been awarded a post-doctoral fellowship from 2012 until 2015 at the Centre for Medieval Literature, funded by the Danish National Research Foundation. He will be based in The King’s Manor at the University of York and will hold a visiting fellowship at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense. George will work collaboratively as part of a team of researchers investigating medieval literature from a European perspective while preparing a monograph on the use of English in the twelfth century.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


Reminder: Network Facilitator Post, deadline 15 June. Details here.

Last chance to register for the ASNC Open Day on 27th June. Closing date for registration: 14 June. Details here.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Conversion and Social Change

Dr Roy Flechner writes:

On 12 May the International Research Network 'Converting the Isles' held its second colloquium in Cambridge, entitled 'Conversion to Christianity and Social Change in the Insular World'. The colloquium consisted of three sessions with a pair of speakers each, and a fourth and final session featured a special lecture by the Cambridge archaeologist Dr Sam Lucy, who spoke about the recent important finds from an excavation near Trumpington, where an Anglo-Saxon 'bed burial' was unearthed, and one of the skeletons was accompanied by a unique gold and garnet cross.

The aim of the colloquium was to explore social economic incentives for and implications of conversion to Christianity in the Insular world. As with past and future colloquia in the series, we endeavoured to pair speakers from different disciplines or whose work relates to different places in the Insular world. The sessions were thematic, which allowed participants to explore the same issues from different angles, using distinct methodologies. For example, Professor Máire Herbert (Cork) and Professor Dawn Hadley (Sheffield) both addressed the question of the manner in which conversion affected gender relations, but one did so as a literary scholar and focusing on Irish material, whereas the other addressed Scandinavian settlers in Anglo-Saxon England from an archaeological perspective. Ordinarily, such talks would feature in separate conferences, but in 'Converting the Isles' we strive to bridge geographical and disciplinary boundaries. And to judge by the experience of the recent colloquium, we have good reasons to be optimistic that the existing gaps can be bridged. It was especially encouraging to see how both the active role played by session moderators and the lively participation by the audience helped to tease out commonalities between talks, and address topics more conceptually. In fact, this series of colloquia owes as much to its audience (consisting of experts and non-experts alike) as it does to the speakers, and it was very pleasing to have in the audience scholars who spoke in the previous colloquium, held in September 2011. Such fruitful group discussions lend more weight to the notion that conversion to Christianity ought to be researched in an interdisciplinary and collaborative way, a notion on which the network is premised.

The talks have been audio-podcasted, and are now available from the network's temporary website. The website also provides details of speakers, talk titles and other materials.

We would like to acknowledge generous financial contributions that enabled this event to take place: from ASNC, the Trevelyan Fund (History Faculty Cambridge), and Trinity College Cambridge.