The History of Honley and its Hamlets from the Earliest Time to the Present (1914) by Mary A. Jagger
By G. F. Hill, M.A.
On November 7th, 1893, a small find of coins and antiquities was made at Honley, near Huddersfield. Honley is about two miles from Castle Hill, and about four miles across country from Slack. Castle Hill is said to have been occupied by the British before the Romans, and Slack is the most probable of the many places which have been identified with the ancient Cambodunum.
The objects in question were concealed in a cavity behind a piece of rock, and were discovered by workmen who were breaking away the rock. The greater part, if not all, of the coins and metal objects are said to have been contained in the hollow bone (No. I.), but as to this point there seems to be some uncertainty. However, that all the objects formed a single deposit there can be no doubt.
By the courtesy of Mr. William Brooke, of Northgate Mount, Honley, on whose estate the find occurred, and who has generously presented to the British Museum the five British coins which lend the hoard its chief interest, I am able to give a detailed account of all the objects found. They were:—
(I.) A hollow bone, probably of an ox, measuring, in its present much decayed and broken condition, 15 cm. in length. It was originally, doubtless, quite large enough to accommodate all the articles following.
(II.) A small bronze box with hinged lid (PI. xv. 7-9), of a well-known type, but the use of which does not seem to be absolutely certain. A number may be seen in the British Museum (“Anglo-Roman” Room, Table-Case B, and Bronze Room, Table-Case D). Illustrations of similar objects may also be found in J. Battely’s Antiq. Rutupinae (1745 ed. in Opera Posthuma), p. 129; Roach Smith, Antiquities of Richborough, &c., p. 84, and PI. VII.; Roman London, PI. XXXIII. 14, 15; Archceologia, XXXIX. p. 508; J. E. Price, Roman Antiquities, Mansion House, 1873, PI. VIII. 16, 17; Jacobi, das Römerkastell Saalburg, PI. LXIX. 10, 11; Friederichs, Kleinere Kunst, 569-579; and Jahrbucher des Vereins von Alterthumsfreunden im Rheinlande, XV. (1850), PI. IV., Nos. 2, 2a, 2b. These boxes are of various shapes, square, oval, lozenge-shaped, heart-shaped, or rather bellows-shaped, and, like the present specimen, circular. Most of them are pierced at the bottom with three circular holes, and in the side with two square openings. On the lid they are frequently enamelled. The present specimen has a thin plate of silver, pierced with a very graceful design, laid on the lid. The lids of two specimens (of an oval shape, and of bronze) in the British Museum Bronze Room are decorated in relief with the heads of Domitian and Domitia respectively. One of the three specimens described in the Jahrbucher des Rheinland. Vereins cited above (No. 2b, circular and gilded) bears the heads, confronted, of Domitian and Domitia. No. 2 in the same publication (circular, and plated with silver) is decorated with an eagle, the wings of which are displayed. These are all distinctively Roman types, but it by no means follows that the boxes served some official purpose.
One view as to the use of these boxes is that they were meant to contain perfumes. If so, it is difficult to see the object of the two lateral openings. Some of them, it is said, have been found containing clay. This fact, unless the boxes were buried in a clay soil, would seem in favour of the rival theory, that we have to do with seal-boxes. The linum on which the seal was impressed would pass through the two lateral apertures. The three holes in the bottom of the box are difficult to explain on this hypothesis. Mr. A. H. Smith suggests that another cord attached to the document passed through these holes, to relieve the strain on the linum proper.
If these are seal-boxes — and this is by no means certain — the seals contained in them must have hung free. The documents sealed cannot therefore have been tabuloe, which were fastened by a cord lying along a groove in the outer face of the tablet, the seals being placed in a row in this groove, so as to keep down the cord. We have rather to imagine clay or wax seals similar to the Byzantine leaden bullae.
On the whole, the absence of literaly evidence as to the use of hanging seals at this period, the small average size of the boxes, their various shapes, and the existence of the three holes in the bottom, reminding one of the modern vinaigrette, make it not improbable that the old-fashioned theory of perfume-boxes may be after all the right one. The existence of two lateral holes, however, forms a distinct objection to this view. They can hardly have served for suspension.
The decoration of rings round the edge is, I believe, peculiar to this specimen. The condition of the box is not quite so good as the photograph (executed from Mr. Anderson’s drawings) might lead one to suppose; but no unjustifiable restoration has been made.
(III.) A bronze fibula (PI. XV. 6) of the usual type of the first century A.D., still retaining the ring to which the chain was attached. For the method of wearing these fibulae, and the development of their form in Britain, see A. J. Evans, On Two Fibuloe of Celtic Fabric from Aesica, Archceologia, LV., pp. 179 ff., and On a Votive Deposit, ibid., p. 401.
(IV.) Two small bronze rings (PI. xv. 10), miniatures of the type of the large rings from Polden Hill, Somersetshire (Archceologia, XIV., PL XXI., No. 5). These rings were probably sewn on to a strap or garment, a loop coming over the shorter part of the circumference contained between the two projections, and keeping the ring in position. The larger rings of this sort were probably used for horse-trappings.
(V.) Eighteen Roman coins, as follows:—
(VI.) The five British coins are all of the same scyphate fabric; the obverse (convex side) bears the legend VOLISIOS in two rows, marked by three parallel lines. Outside these lines are traces of the wreath-ornament which is characteristic of British coins.
As might be expected from the place where these coins were found, which is in the district of the Brigantes, they belong to this tribe. Hitherto, however, none but gold coins of the Brigantes have come to light; nor have any been found with Roman coins of later date than A.D. 40. I quote from pp. 406, 407 of Sir John Evans’ Coins of the Ancient Britons — “As ... we do not find any names upon these coins which can in any way be identified with those of Cartismandua or Venusius, and as the Roman coins found with the British are, as far as we know, of no later date than A.D. 40, it seems probable that the coinage of the Brigantes had ceased before A.D. 50, in which year Ostorius put down an insurrection among them.” Now, however, the date of the deposit of the hoard (after, but not long after, A.D. 72 or 73), enable us to say without hesitation that the coinage of the Brigantes continued to the time of Cartimandua. As usual, the increase of Roman influence caused the coinage of this tribe to be restricted to silver.
As to the legend of the obverse (which entirely bears out Sir John Evans in his reading VOLISIOS on the gold coins), and that of the reverses of Nos. 1-4, it can only be said that these must await their explanation in company with the legends previously known. The DVM, DVMN, DVMNOCO, DVMNOVE of the new coins are clearly the same word or words as those on the coins engraved in Evans, PI. XVII., Nos. 1 ff. The way in which the monogrammatic writing of VE persists through all varieties is noticeable. The fact that while some coins read DVMNOVERO[S] others have DVMNOCOVEROS Yorkshire. Mr. Haverfield also notes that very few Celtic names begin with the syllable CART. The probability of the identification with Cartimandua is thus slightly increased. It seems, at any rate, to be perfectly fair, in the present state of our knowledge, to class the South Yorkshire coins to the Brigantes (an extremely important tribe, which would otherwise be left without coins), and this particular piece to Queen Cartimandua.