Engish History: Previously unrecorded king discovered
New light has been shed on a little-known part of English history after the discovery of an Iron Age coin in Hampshire.
The coin, found by metal detectorist Lewis Fudge, is stamped with the name of a forgotten ruler from the period meaning British history may have to be rewritten to fit in the unrecorded king.
Esunertos is the name stamped on the coin, who experts believe may have ruled as king from Danebury Fort near Winchester.
Iron Age experts have called the find “one of the outstanding discoveries of recent decades”, with the coin being struck sometime between 50 and 30BC.
The Iron Age gold coin went up for auction this week and was expected to fetch £4,000.
However, it sold for an eye-watering £20,400 and set a new world record in the process.
The previous record was held by a ‘Medusa’ Quarter-Stater which sold for £10,800.
Fudge said he found the coin in a farmer’s field in March this year after receiving permission from the land owner to detect.
“I am over the moon, if it were not for people in the auction room I would have jumped around,” Fudge said.
“The collectors I spoke to are gobsmacked.
“I'm so glad I did not take them up on their private offers before the auction.
“To think my find has generated its own Wikipedia page, is incredible.”
The coin was studied by Iron Age experts who identified the name “IISVNIRTOS”, roughly translating to “mighty as the God Esos”.
Gregory Edmund, Iron Age Coin Specialist at Spink Auctioneers said: “This fabulous piece of prehistoric artwork completes the mental image we have when we think of Iron Age Britain - the war horse and chariot.
“But it also surprises us with the appearance of classical languages like Latin.
“This is the reason I come to work; to document the discoveries of national importance and share that knowledge directly with museums and amongst academics, collectors and the public at large.
“On a personal note, this find is particularly vindicating for me.
“I focused my university degree on the Roman invasion of Britain through the lens of Britain's first coinage.
“To now add a critically important contemporary witness to those seismic events in the birth of our island's story is electrifying.
“Despite the coin's diminutive size, the name of its conceiver - Esunertos - now truly echoes down the ages.
“Esunertos was once forgotten, but now his name looms large in the historic record.”