On Sept. 17 the London auction house of Dix Noonan Webb will offer a rare Roman gold solidus of Emperor Constantine I. It was found earlier this year in a field at Wanstrow in Somerset by a metal detectorist.
The high grade 4.43 g coin is an example of the new denomination introduced by Constantine in 310. It was struck at Trier, the capital of Gaul, c. 313-315 CE (Calicó –; RIC 36). The obverse shows a laureate bust of the emperor while the reverse shows him galloping on horseback with lance and shield trampling two opponents beneath.
The find is historically important. The coin commemorates Constantine’s significant victory over the usurper Maxentius at Milvian Bridge outside Rome in October 312. It was on this occasion that Constantine adopted a new military standard of the Chi-Rho or Christogram. Following his victory, he became a supporter of Christianity. Hence the importance of this battle for Christianity as much as for Constantine.
In choice EF condition the solidus will go to the block with an estimate of £10,000-12,000 [$12,000-14,500].
The field in which the coin was discovered a foot below the surface is close to a Roman road once used for transporting mined lead ore. It was the detectorist’s first time searching this area. He initially turned up a Roman brooch and several pieces of lead ore before locating the gold coin.
When the find was recorded on the British portable antiquities database the local finds liaison officer realized it was the first one of this type to be found in Britain.