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Claudian Coins

The distribution of Roman coins struck in the name of Claudius (41-54) reveals how quickly coinage penetrated Wales after the conquest. It is most likely that these coins were brought by the army as it expanded Roman control westwards during the campaigns of the Flavian period (69-96). The Welsh tribes were conquered between 74 and 78, after which a network of auxiliary forts was established across Wales; a system of suppression and domination that spread out from the two legionary fortresses at Caerleon and Chester.

Claudian coins are frequently found on military sites in south Wales first occupied in the later Flavian period, which shows that they remained in circulation for at least fifteen years and possibly much longer (though Claudian coins become increasingly scarce in second century hoards).

Claudian copies, local imitations of official bronze coins, are closely associated with the archaeology of the Roman army in Wales. It is thought that these copies were semi-official coins, authorised and issued by the military during the years up to 64 when the Roman mints once again began satisfying provincial demand for low value bronze denominations. The difference between the supply and demand for bronze coins was such that 183 of the 218 Claudian bronze coins from Wales (84%) are copies. Claudian coins occur more often in south Wales, particularly along the Usk valley from Usk / Caerleon to the fort at Brecon.

Other finds along the south coast and the Towy valley show the influence of the Roman army as it spread westwards from Caerleon after 75. The absence of any Claudian coins from central and north Wales, however, suggests a different numismatic history of the conquest in these regions brought under Roman control from Chester.