Waveney Diadem. Talbot Bury H, new dies. c.50-40 BC. Silver unit. 15mm. 1.44g. Well styled, comparatively naturalistic, female head right, wearing lunar diadem, S-shaped serpent in front has ram-horned head at each end./ Naturalistic horse galloping left, tiny S-shapes for mane, leaf-like spear-tail, large solar ‘anemone’ and ringed-pellets above, large ringed-pellet below, quatrefoil in front, triple exergual lines with middle line beaded. ABC–, VA–, BMC–, COI 19 (Bury Diadem Right), S–. Good EF, superbly struck on large heavyweight flan of good silver, lightly toned, fabulously well-featured head, serpent virtually complete with both heads clearly displayed, wonderful Whaddon-style horse. An exceptional specimen of a numismatically fascinating type, only recently recognised and easily the finest known. The first we’ve had and (as far as we know) the first to be seen in a public auction catalogue. Found at Harleston, Norfolk, 2019. EXTREMELY RARE only seven others recorded, not one as nice as this (three are badly chipped). Apparently UNIQUE dies, neither previously published.
Draco, the ram-horned dragon, was of crucial importance to the sea-girt, river-rich, fen-fenced Iceni. He was so key to their well being that he is shown large on the obverse of this exquisitely crafted Waveney Diadem unit, and ten times in miniature as the mane of Sirona’s night-mare (seven times on the preceding lighter-weight Bury Diadem, Lot 16) and four times as the ‘quatrefoil’ before her (signifying the four directions and his four elemental manifestions: earth dragon, water dragon, fire dragon, sky dragon). Draco was best known in antiquity, especially to the Druids, as the starry constellation that snakes around the north pole star Sirona ‘The Star’ (modern Polaris). Ever-present in the East Anglian night-sky, Sirona and Draco helped the Iceni to navigate their farming and stock-breeding calendars, their seas, their rivers, their western wetlands and their seasonal festivals, not to mention the time at night. Dr John Talbot, author of Made for Trade: A New View of Icenian Coinage says: “What a beautiful Bury H. Several more have turned up since MFT and yours is now the 8th, but I think the best. Particularly because of its wonderful detail of the double-headed creature before the head on the obverse. The find-spots continue to be in the Waveney Valley which clearly makes this the local equivalent of Bury A (pers.comm. 4.4.2023). A highly important silver coin in exceptional condition and of extreme rarity. Not in ABC, Van Arsdell, BMC nor Spink.