The history of Britain's occupation during antiquity by the Roman Empire is among the foundational narratives of British identity. Aside from its cultural implications, this saga in world history also left the island nation with a wealth of ancient Roman treasure beneath its soil.

The most recent discovery of this kind dates back roughly 1,700 years.

Rare Gold Artifact

gold aureus

Example of a gold aureus. Image courtesy of Numismatica Ars Classica NAC AG | CC BY-SA 3.0 CH

This particular ancient gold coin is an aureus, which served as the flagship gold coin of the Roman Empire for centuries before being replaced by the solidus.

There have been a fairly staggering amount of Roman coins unearthed in Great Britain, especially over the past few decades with the help of modern metal-detecting technology.

However, this latest discovery is part of an exceptionally exclusive group. It shows the bust of Allectus, who briefly ruled as the Emperor of Britannia—the Latin name for the British Isles—at the end of the third century C.E.

"First Brexiteer"

The coin was found in Kent, not far from the town of Dover.

Only 24 examples of gold aureii bearing the face of Allectus are known to exist. Of the two dozen extant coins, two of them were discovered in Kent.

allectus coin

Roman coin depicting Allectus. Image courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Allectus is rather notorious for having usurped command of Britannia from his superior officer while serving as the province's treasurer. He then claimed the territory for himself, breaking ties with Rome and the broader empire.

Given this backstory, the British press loudly characterizes these coins as depicting the "FIRST BREXITEER" since everything in British political life is related to Brexit these days.

In any case, this rare Roman gold coin is expected to realized an impressive £100,000 ($131,000) at auction in June. Compared to most examples, its state of preservation after 17 centuries is difficult to believe: its details are remarkably sharp and complete in images provided by the auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb.

The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product.

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Everett Millman

Everett Millman

Managing Editor | Analyst, Commodities and Finance

Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.

In addition to blogging, Everett's work has been featured in Reuters, CNN Business, Bloomberg Radio, TD Ameritrade Network, CoinWeek, and has been referenced by the Washington Post.