Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

beak of a bird, and the body of a boat or ship, coincides so exactly with the description Taliesin gives of Ked or Ceridwen, that it can only be referred to her and her mystical establishment.* Many of the Gaulish specimens given by Montfaucon, which were found between Beauvais and Amiens, represent the hen picking up a grain of corn.t Dr. Borlase, in his antiquities, has given twenty varieties, and one in his “Natural History of Cornwall.” Camden has two of gold, one of silver, and one of brass. Mr. Walker has supplied Gibson with others, and Gough has availed himself of all he could copy.

At this place are two gold coins concavo-convex, stamped only on the concave side. The weight of

that on which is the horse with a hen's head, is 92grs. Po, its specific gravity 13 07. That which has the hen's head, formed of a lunette, picking up a grain, with other lunettes and dots, weighs 8lgrs., ķ, and its specific gravity 11. 02.

Like the ancient Britons, cearb, cim, cios, all words for silver, implied, among the Irish, money in general. Lethe and leathen were the terms for it when determined by weight, from leithe a balance.

Toice was an ancient coin, but it is not now known of what metal it was made. The words cepar screabal, sometimes used for money, anciently implied tribute ; and it seems clear, from the terms cron vhualte dr, cron vhualte airged, cron vhualte pras, i. e. a mark struck upon gold, a mark struck upon silver, a mark struck upon brass, that the Irish borrowed the idea of coins from some other people. They do not appear to have had money at the close of the second century, from the wording of the following law of

• There is at Goodrich court an Æolipile of ancient Etruscan ware, which has the body and tail of a hen, and the head of a horse.—See an engraving of it by Storer, in the Portfolio.

+ See also the transformations described in the Mabinogi of Taliesin, in the present Number, translated by Dr. Owen Pughe.- Edrs.

Magdorn, daughter of Mogha Nuadhad : “the lawful price of the clothing of every woman but the queen, ornaments excepted, whether to be paid in cows, horses, gold, silver, copper, or iron, &c.;" again, we have,“ to be paid by cumals of cows, or by ounces (of metal) in lieu of them.”

The word cumal, General Vallancey would translate camel, conceiving it to be a coin impressed with the figure of that animal; and thence, imagining that its origin must be eastern, infer that such coins were introduced into Ireland by the Celto-Scythian colony from Spain. The wildness and absurdity of this conjecture, so contrary to all evidence, is too apparent to require serious refutation.

It is true that the Irish, in their piratical expeditions, had become acquainted with Roman coins; and the discovery of two at New Grange, while it proves the fact, suggests that they might have been appropriated to the purpose of offerings to their deities. We cannot, I think, say that the Irish adopted the coinage of money until after the introduction of Christianity. The word grea-bal, the term for a penny, literally implies stamped with the image of a horse, which seems to refer to the ancient British ceiniog ; and if so, the Irish would appear to have naturally become acquainted with the general circulating medium of Gaul and Britain, for the words puingene, a penny, and monadh,* money, are clearly corruptions of the Saxon expressions.

Previously to this time, the gold and silver was certainly disposed of by weight.

It is very difficult to form any idea of the quantity of money that circulated in Britain between the first and second invasion of the Romans. Tacitus describes London as an opulent trading city, inhabited by several wealthy merchants, in less than twenty years after the latter period, which makes it probable that it was rich in money and merchandize before that event. This he says in his Annals, and in his Life of Agricola he observes that Britain has sufficient quantity of gold and silver amply to reward all the toils and dangers of those who seek its conquest. We have also no less than fifty different coins of Cynvelin, in gold, silver, and copper, which, although in all probability struck by Roman artists, were evidently coined for British circulation.

• Is not this derived from mwnai of the Welsh, which means inoney; the root is inwn, niine, ore, or metal ?-EDrs.

But the conquest of this island, commenced by that people in the year 43, occasioned a total change in this respect. No sooner had Claudius and his officers deprived the British princes of their authority, and reduced their territories into the form of a Roman province, than their coin was prohibited by especial edict, and that of the Roman emperors substituted in its place. The result was, that all the native money was either concealed, or melted down to give place to that struck with the effigies of the Cæsars. Hence Gildas is induced to say, “Britain, after it was subdued and rendered tributary to the Romans, ought rather to have been called a Roman than a British island, as all the gold, silver, and copper money in it was stamped with the image of Cæsar. Immense sums of money flowed subsequently into this island, as its merchants contrived to get the balance of trade in their favour; but the two unfortunate expeditions of the usurpers Maximus and Constantine to the continent, in the years 383 and 408, were very injurious to the wealth of the provincial Britons. To prosecute their pretensions to the imperial purple, they carried off great sums of money. Hence the army of the former is called, in the Triads, one of the silver hosts, as it carried with it all (i. e. the far greater part of) the gold and silver out of the country. About the latter period, Zosimus asserts that many of the richest inhabitants, finding no security for their persons or possessions in Britain, converted their estates into money, and retired to the greater security of the continent.

Although the quantity of coin was by these means, and by the gradual but ultimate departure of the Romans, very greatly reduced, and that reduction augmented by the piratical expeditions of the Saxons, Irish, and Picts, yet it should be remembered that the property thus transferred was that of private individuals, and that taken by the government only what was contained in the treasury. But if we allow that the country was considerably drained of its coin, it is but natural to suppose that it felt an influx of wealth from Bretagne by the arrival of Cystennyn Llydaw and his followers. The influence of this event was experienced in succeeding times; for we not only find Gwrthryrn habited “in purple and gold,” keeping a court with all the splendor of a Roman Vicarius, but are expressly told that he was attended by about five thousand mercenary troops, and independent of the retainers of the other chiefs; but that “gold had collected these for warfare."*

See Gododin 7th.

Although we may suppose, from the constant intercourse between Britain and Brittany, that the Roman coin continued for a long period to be the current money of the kingdom, yet it is by no means clear what succeeded it. The Britons, in their retreat from the Saxon aggressions, still had in their rear those mountains which had supplied the Romans with great quantities of silver; and which mines, particularly those in Cardiganshire, are very far from being exhausted even at this day; and that they must have worked them, seems almost evident from the occasional demands for tribute. Rhodri Mawr, about the year 877, ordained that the princes of South Wales and Powys should each pay yearly to the sovereign of North Wales the sum of sixty-three pounds, which demand was called maelged, (the contribution of produce); but the royal tribute, or teyrnged, which was due from Cambria to the imperial crown of London, was ordained in future to be paid by the kings of North Wales. Vaughan of Hengwrt* gives another version. He says," the kings of North Wales were to pay the sixty-three pounds to the crown of London; the princes of Powys four tons of flour, and the princes of South Wales four tons of honey, to the sovereigns of North Wales.” This seems the most probable, countenanced as it is by the fact of the mines producing silver being within the jurisdiction of North Wales. From the same cause, we may conclude that the sixty-three pounds were so much weight of that metal. The laws of Hywel dda mention the tribute to the king of London thus, which was paid to Edward the Elder, in the year 922, by his sons: "Sixty-three pounds is the tribute from the king of Aberfraw to the king of London, when he took his kingdom from him; and besides this, except dogs, hawks, and horses, nothing else shall be exacted." The expression in Welsh is tair a thri ugaint punt, which, although now used to imply gold coin, was then considered as a weight; whence Dr. Wotton, in his preface to those laws, thus describes: “Libra Wallica ejusdem erat ac Saxonica valoris, ducentis et quadraginta denariis, sive ceiniogau constans.” The pound, therefore, equalled two hundred and forty ceiniogau. Avain, the Welsh Chronicle, speaking of the Anglo-Saxon King Athelstan in the year 934, says, “and he became possessed of all the kingdom of Wales, and it was made to pay a tribute to him, like the payment of the king of Norway to him. This was three hundred pounds

* Brit. Antiq. Revived.

of silver, and one hundred pounds of wool, (tri chant punt o arian ac ugein punt o cnu,) and five thousand cows every year.” Harold, in 1053, made the Welsh pay tribute, who, in fear, renounced this allegiance to their lawful prince, Grufydd ab Llewelyn.

There is nothing, therefore, conclusive to show whether the Welsh princes actually coined the silver, in what is handed down to us in the details of what composed the exactions levied on them by their successful enemies; and, as no Welsh coins have been found, an inference might be drawn that none were ever struck. Yet such a conclusion would be rather hazardous. In the first place, we find the Welsh pound estimated by so many ceiniogau, which, from what has been before said, was money regularly struck; next, that this computation agreed with that of the AngloSaxons, while that people are not supposed to have coined before the seventh century. Then the mode of computing money was nearly the same with both people, perhaps a little more simple with the Welsh. But, above all, from the laws, pages 10, 71, and 217, in Wotton's edition, where the use of money is most clearly demonstrated, as it is directed to be paid or placed in the hands of another, and reserves to the king the right of striking it. As this last is so important, I must cite the passage in Welsh : “Pedwar peth a gynhelis y Brenin yn ei law ei hun heb gyfran i neb o herwydd cyfraith : Cyntay yw, &c.” There are four things which the king reserves to himself

, no one having any right to share with him; the first is, &c. “Trydydd yw gwneuthur cyfraith neu fath yn ei deyrnas :" the third is the right of making laws, and striking money in his own kingdom. Gwneuthur bath, is “to make coin ;" whence arian bath signifies stamped (and therefore current) money.” Bath meaning "impressed with a likeness,” and, as it appears to me, though here I speak with all due deference, having some connexion with the word fat, “a smart blow or stroke;" although Dr. Owen Pughe gives to each a distinct derivation.

Thus, then, the Welsh prince had the power of making coin confirmed to him by law, and that he exercised it appears clear from the following notices in the laws themselves: “Supper money, or lodging money, which was paid by the gentry and freeholders for the maintenance of the officers of the court. Money of the equerries, which was paid by the king's tenants in villainage once a

« ПредишнаНапред »