98 - Cranborne Chase

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Unique ID: 98

Technical details








South Western

Issuing Authority









Very Common (200+)


54 BC to 20 BC (see note about dating)

Obverse Legend

No Legend

Reverse Legend

No Legend

Obverse Description

The obverse shows a very abstracted rendering of Apollo’s head ultimately derived from the Philippus. It mainly comprises of a wreath and hairlocks, bisected by a hair bar. The crescents on the right are hair curls, and the “blob” shaped object in front is all that remains of Apollo’s face. The crescent with four lines coming from it and pellets between at the bottom of the coin are Apollo’s cloak.

Reverse Description

The reverse shows the remnants of the horse drawn biga and Charioteer from the Philippus. The horse faces left with a pellet field above the horse. There’s a large crescent and pellet below the horse. The lines coming from the rightmost leg are the horse’s tail. Above these is an oval with an elongated pellet within. This is the “coffee bean”, and it was originally the chariot wheel from the biga.

Bought from finder on Facebook (July 2020)


ABC 2157. Cranborne Chase

Van Arsdell

VA 1235-01. Durotrigan E – Abstract Type


S 366. Silver Stater

Cranborne Chase staters were modelled on the British Af “Lepe” staters which started out as good gold, and ended as mainly silver with around 9% gold in them. Cranborne Chase staters start as white gold (mainly silver with around 9% gold) but then degrade to just silver, and then billon (more copper than silver). At some point the silver ran out and the Durotriges struck their staters in bronze (the Hod Hill type; 95) before casting them in bronze. The later Af1 staters are frequently confused with the early Cranborne Chase ones. The transition from white gold to silver to billon is continuous and indistinct. This coin is good silver, and one of the earlier staters in the series.

Daphne Nash Briggs published a paper discussing these coins in the context of the legend that horses pulled the sun god accross the sky during the day, and returned at night pulling the other side of the sun with it. She points out:

  1. The metal is silver rather than gold, representing the moon rather than the sun
  2. The horse faces left (east) which is the direction it would travel at night
  3. The horse looks tired, droopy, and appears to have a nose bag
  4. The horse appears to have a dim sun-like disc below it
  5. The horse has twelve moons on its back plus a smaller object about one third their size. There are twelve and one third lunar months in a year

I do like this theory, but the design started on the British Aa1 Class 2 Carn Brea coins (96) which were gold and only had eight and one third pellets, so it is unlikely to have been designed with this legend in mind. The Celts may have tweaked the design to match when the coins transitioned to silver though.

This is one of two in the collection (see 91).