An Archaeology of Trafford in 12 Objects Part 4: Roman Coin, Sale

The fourth item in our festive look at the archaeology and history of Trafford in 12 objects is our first metal piece: a Roman coin. In late 2013 a small bronze coin was handed into the STAG display centre by one of our members. It had come from the allotments off Winstanley Road close to the line of the MetroLink in Sale.

The coin in question is a common enough type: a small bronze issue of the mid-fourth century, in poor condition – quite worn and obviously clipped along the edges. The obverse has a bust of the emperor Constans surrounded by the legend D N CONSTANS AVG. The obverse legend reads GLORIA EXERCITVS with two soldiers standing either side of a standard. Although no mint mark is visible, probably removed by the clipping, this particular bronze issue, AE4 in classification, was minted during the years 337 to 346, the latter year marking a reform of the coinage and the ending of production of this denomination. The wear on the Sale example, though, indicates that it may have been in circulation for some years beyond this date.

The Winstanley Road allotment coin lies roughly 500m east of the Roman road alignment through this part of Sale. Further south in Broadheath the line of the Roman road was excavated in 1995. Thus, each piece of evidence enhances our understanding of a given period at a local level. In this case a single act of loss sometime in the mid-fourth century reflects the Roman activity within this part of the Manchester city region, whilst also plugging us into the transcontinental political history of Rome. This is why such singular discoveries are important and should be reported and recorded as fully as possible.

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