Between 1697 and the 1830s several hundred clay coin moulds and a small number of funnels, used in the production of fake denarii of second and third century date, were found at a site called Lingwell Gate, near Wakefield. This assemblage of coin moulds is one of the largest known from the Roman world.
Research into the site and the coin moulds has been hampered by their antiquarian discovery and subsequent dispersal. The Yorkshire Museum has been awarded a Money and Medals Network Regional Research Fellowship to trace the Lingwell Gate coin moulds and funnels in collections around the country. Officially produced denarii were pressed into rounds of clay to create mirrored impressions of the obverse and reverse designs. These clay moulds were then dried and stacked on top of one another before being enveloped in clay, with a central channel left between stacks. Molten metal was then poured into the channel through a funnel to create cast copied coins. One report from 1821 describes a wheelbarrow full of moulds being collected from the Lingwell Gate site, and throughout the 1830s many antiquarian collectors visited the area, taking examples of the moulds and funnels with them for their private collections. Whether large-scale production of copied coins occurred in one brief phase or over a lengthy period of time is yet to be determined.
Creating a Shared Research Tool
There are 54 coin moulds from Lingwell Gate in the Yorkshire Museum collection and others are known at Wakefield, Leeds, Norwich, Hull, London, Liverpool, Oxford, and Cambridge. The aim of the Regional Research Fellowship is to collect information about surviving finds from the Lingwell Gate site into a shared resource, which will offer an overview of the phases of discovery, what is known about the site, and the methods of dispersal and acquisition into public and private collections. The project also aims to more closely identify the coins being copied, increasing our understanding of the assemblage as a whole and refining a date range for the production of the moulds. The new information uncovered will be shared with partner museums and will be incorporated into a number of online resources and public talks to share knowledge of this fascinating assemblage with a wide audience.
If you know the whereabouts of any Lingwell Gate coin moulds please contact Emily Tilley, Curatorial Assistant for the Yorkshire Museum.
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There you can also learn more about the Lingwell Gate Roman coin moulds.