In May of this year a most important find was made at Springhead, a find which puts the occupation of this well-known site back beyond the Roman period. Insignificant at first sight but of great significance to the student of Springhead, was a bronze coin of the Cantii of the late Iron Age. Stratified below the earliest Roman levels in what is at present, for want of a better name, “Temple 6,” the coin was lying in an occupation layer on base clay.
The obverse bears a wolf facing left, with a tree behind it, whilst the reverse portrays a very artistic horse to the right and a flower above it. Reference to Mock, R P, “The Coinage of Ancient Britain,” gives it the number 295, and puts the date at early 1st century AD. It is interesting to note that in 1964 the present excavators at Springhead found a similar coin of the same date in an unstratified position. This one, however, had for its obverse a bear, and a very spirited horse on the reverse. (Mack, 296). These are not the only late Iron Age coins from Springhead. There are three in the Gravesend Museum collection, two of class Mack 295 and the other having horses on both sides (Mack 290). These are mentioned by Arnold in his history of Gravesend (1896), and one is illustrated by Dunkin in his Memoranda of Springhead (1848).
In 1845, C Roach Smith described a coin then recently found at Springhead in the gardens of Mr Silvester. He calls it a “British brass” having on the incuse obverse side a horse with C A C between its legs, and on the convex obverse side a wheat ear dividing the letters C A M. It is of interest that the Gravesend Museum have in its collection a very similar coin labelled “From Springhead” but on this specimen the letters below the horse read C V N O. Dr J P C Kent of the British Museum, who has examined this coin, considers it to be a contemporary forgery of a gold coin of Cunobelinus, but of an unusual type because in our specimen the horse is galloping to the left whereas the conventional one goes to the right. (Mack 208).
Another I.A. coin from this area was exhibited by C Roach Smith in 1864, again found on Silvester’s land. This is described as having on the obverse “A head in profile to the right, hair formed by open crescents arranged round two beaded lines at right angles. Reverse, horse to left, above a crescent. ” (Proceedings of the Numismatic Society, November 17th 1864). This coin is now in the British Museum collection.
Sufficient supporting evidence is not yet available to indicate where the late Iron Age settlement was at Springhead, but the number of coins which have been found in the area. Roach Smith says “several” even in his day, would make it appear that there was one nearby. There seems to be too many to have been lost by casual passers-by on the Watling Street although odd coins of the period have been found on the line of the old road at the Tollgate and Shorne.
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