Two Roman coins have been found at Great Alne. One is in the museum at Warwick, the oth er in private ownership. One was found at 'The Elms' (now 'Alne House') on May 2nd 1959; the other at 'Shawford' (mentioned last issue) in the garden west of the house, in January, 1942. The latter is of great interest. Roman coins, like ours, were originally of copper, silver or gold, but just like ourselves the Romans had debased the currency. This, therefore, is of an alloy of copper called 'orichalcum', usually known as bronze. It is a dupondius, equal to 2 asses and it measures 1¼" (3.2 cm.) in diameter. The obverse shows the head of the emperor Trajan, crowned with laurel and facing to the right. The worn inscription says:
IMP CAES NERVAE TRAJANO AUG GER DAC PM TRP COS PP.
The reverse shows Trajan in military dress, riding at speed towards the right and casting a javelin at a Dacian overthrown by his horse. Some of the inscription on this says:
SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI SC
Readers will like to know the meaning of the inscriptions. Both are in the dative case (i.e. saying 'to' so and so) but we will not let that complicate matters for us.
IMP for Imperator is the constant title of Roman emperors.
CAES for Caesar is the name of the family of which the most celebrated member was Julius. After him all emperors bore the name Caesar, together with Augustus - AUG which we may translate Majesty.
Trajan is here called 'son of NERVA because the emperor Nerva adopted him to be his heir and successor. Nerva was appalled at the difficulties of his task and seeing that Trajan was just the man for the job made him a sort of coadjutor emperor, with right to the succession during his own 2 years reign (96 98 A.D.). Nerva had been 70 when he himself succeeded the emperor Domitian, so he acted wisely. Trajan was only 40. In adopting him, Nerva gave him the name of Caesar. Formerly he had been simply Marcus Ulpius Crinitus. It was Nerva also who gave him the name Germanicus (GER) which is an agnomen or last name, implying that he had won victories over the Germans, as he had already done. Later on, his conquest of the Dacians was marked by the add itional name of Dacicus (DAC). PM means Pontifex Maximus or High Priest. The emperors combined the office of High Priest with their other duties, making sure of their authority as we might say, both in Church and State. It has been suggested that TRP is for 'tribunicia potestate' i.e. 'with the power of the tribune' but al though there is such an expression, I think it is more natural to take it as 'tribune of the plebs'. Then COS adds 'with consular power'. Under the Republic the tribunes had absolute power and' their persons were sacrosanct; to make themselves equally sacred the emperors conferred the Tribunes' office on themselves. PP 'Pater Patriae' of 'Father of his country' is a title accepted or refused by various emperors.
This coin must have been minted between the years 98 and 117 A.D. If the SC on the reverse refers to the decree of the Seanate by which Nerva declared Trajan his successor, and if later coins do not have it, then that points to an early date between these two. In any case, the people of Great Alne may be glad that their coin belongs to the reign of a really great man and not to that of certain others!
Alcester & District Local History Society
Summer 1985 Index