ABC 728 -
Montagu’s Minim. c.50-40 BC. Silver minim. 9mm. 0.27g. Helmeted head right with blobby chin, mounted on pole, two beaded lines protruding each side./ Horse right with beaded mane, ringed-pellet on rump, double-beaded-rings above, beaded-ring below. ABC 728, VA 268, BMC 642-643, S 55. CCI 20.0246 (this coin). A superior specimen, perhaps the finest ever found. Ex John Follows collection. Found near Pulborough, West Sussex, 2017. Very rare: only five others recorded including two in the British Museum. Images: © Chris Rudd Ltd, www.celticcoins.com
A startling feature of John Follows’ wonderfully well preserved Montagu’s Minim is that it reveals that the head appears to be a severed head impaled on a pole, possibly with four fountains of blood (the beaded arcs) spurting from it. Celtic head-hunting and the ritual display of severed heads are well attested by archaeology and by classical authors Livy, Strabo and Diodorus Siculus. At the Iron Age forts of Bredon Hill, Worcs., and Stanwick, Yorks., the position of some human skulls suggests that they were originally mounted on poles at the gates of the forts (Professor Miranda Aldhouse-Green, Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend, 1992, p.117). “More than nine out of every ten minims are likely to have been found on a temple site,” says Dr Philip de Jersey This minim was unearthed on sacred high ground within a mile of two temple sites of the Regini – one at Wiggonholt, the other at Broomershill. Stylistically linked to the Ashdown Forest Helmet unit (ABC 661), this is one of Britain’s rarest and most elusive minims. Named after Hyman Moses Montagu (1844-1895) who had two in his collection from the Maresfield hoard, Duddleswell, East Sussex, 1825, both now in the British Museum. Published in Coin News, April 2020 (this coin).