Coins depicting Caesars and Augusti who campaigned in Britain

Last updated: 20 December 2019

Four Augusti died in Britain:

SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS - at Eboracum (York), AD 211, while campaigning in the north.
CARAUSIUS - in southern Britain, AD 293, assassinated by his Chief Minister, Allectus.
ALLECTUS - in southern Britain, AD 296, killed in battle with the invading force of Constantius.
CONSTANTIUS (Chlorus) - at Eboracum (York), AD 306, while campaigning in the north.

Julius Caesar

In 55 BC Julius Caesar became the first Roman Imperator to set foot in Britain. He fought skirmishes with local Chieftains in the south east of the country eventually departing Britain later that year to resume his campaign in Gaul. He returned in early 54 BC and successfully subjugated the Britannic forces only to abandon the campaign later in the year.

[Julio-Claudian coin photo][Julio-Claudian coin photo]
Denarius, Crawford, Roman Republican Coins (RRC), No. 480/8 (March 44 BC - Alfoldi)
Coin obverse depiction: Julius Caesar wreathed head facing right
Inscription clockwise from right: CAESAR DICT PERPETVO (Dictator in Perpetuity)
Coin reverse depiction: Venus Victrix standing, facing left, holding statuette of victory on palm of right hand and supporting vertical scepter with left hand
Inscription vertical to right: L BVCA (L. Aemilius Buca, Moneyer)
Weight: 3.5g


Claudius perceived that it was imperative for him to accomplish a great feat of arms in order to enhance his prestige with the Senate and prove himself worthy of the title of Augustus. His own father NERO CLAUDIUS DRUSUS and brother GERMANICUS had been acclaimed as great military leaders on the northern frontier and he was determined to emulate their successes. His predecessor (and nephew), CALIGULA, had set out to conquer Britain and add that island outpost to the Empire, but had failed. Now Claudius was determined to fulfill that mission and to that end in AD 43 he dispatched an advanced force consisting of four legions commanded by a renowned general, AULUS PLAUTIUS to invade Britain and engage the Britannic forces there.

Shortly thereafter Claudius landed in Britain and assumed command of the army led by General Plautius. In short order Claudius accepted the surrender of the Britannic forces, appointed Plautius Governor of Britannia and subsequently returned to Rome to celebrate his Triumph and enhance his entitlement by the Senate as Father of the Country - PATER PATRIAE (PP), and exalted servant of the People - OB CIVES SERVATOS.

Sestertius, RIC Vol. I, Rome, No. 112, 50-54AD (36mm, 28.2gm)
Obverse depiction: Claudius, laureate head facing right
Reverse depiction: Civic Oak Wreath
Inscription in four lines:

(within Civic wreath)

Septimius Severus and his sons Caracalla & Geta

In AD 208 SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS set out for Britannia accompanied by his sons CARACALLA and GETA (who fought along side him during the campaign) with the avowed aim of restoring the much damaged Hadrian's wall and subduing the warlike native tribes of northern Britain and Caledonia (Scotland). In AD 211 he became terminally ill during the campaign, and after proclaiming Victory over Britannia, he withdrew to his headquarters at Eboracum (York) where he died later that year

Septimius Severus, Denarius, RIC Vol. IV, No. 335
Obverse: Septimius Severus,, Laureate head facing right
Inscription clockwise from bottom: SEVERVS PIVS AVG BRIT
Reverse: Victory (Britannia?) seated left writing on shield

Caracalla, Denarius, RIC Vol. IV, No. 231a
Obverse: Caracalla, Laureate head facing right
Inscription clockwise from bottom: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT
Reverse: winged Victory advancing right holding trophy

Geta, Denarius, RIC Vol. IV, No. 91
Obverse: Geta, Laureate head facing right
Inscription clockwise from bottom: P SEPT GETA PIVS AVG BRIT
Reverse: Victory standing left holding wreath and palm branch

The usurper Augusti of secessionist Britain - Carausius & Allectus

The political and military turmoil of the third century spawned numerous external assaults on the Roman Empire. One of these was the incessant seafaring piracy in the waters surrounding the Roman occupied island outpost of Britain. In 286 Maximian Herculius, in his capacity as Dyarch Augustus of the West, designated a highly regarded military commander named Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Carausius, of Flemish descent, to head a fleet of ships who's mission was to eliminate, or at least severely curtail, this piracy. Carausius had distinguished himself by outstanding leadership and military prowess, especially as a naval "Admiral", in the Gallic campaigns. Carausius established his operational base at the coastal city of Boulogne (Gesoriacum) in Roman occupied northern Gaul. Carausius did indeed accomplish his mission, but reports of corruption and extortion led Maximian Herculius to dispatch a fleet of ships in order to remove Carausius from command. However, Carausius proved too strong and he repulsed the attack.

Carausius subsequently used his continental base to launch an invasion force to occupy and subjugate Britain. Landing in the north, Carausius secured the support of the native Picts and, advancing south, confronted and defeated the forces of the Roman Governor. Having thus conquered the Island, he proclaimed himself Augustus of a Secessionist Britain, becoming an effective and efficient Administrator using the Roman Imperial governmental framework as a model. He maintained control of Boulogne and coastal northern Gaul. Carausius established two mints in Britain: one at London (Londinium) and the other at Colchester (Camulodunum - Clausentum) and a Continental mint in Gaul.

The coins depicted here were minted in Britain at the London (Londinium) mint.

Carausius, Antoninianus, RIC V (2), No. 475:

IMP C CARAVSIVS PF AVG ......................................... PA - X - AVG | S .....P

Draped, radiate, bust
London Mint.
3.9 gm.

Allectus, the chief minister of Carausius, assassinated him (or orchestrated his assassination) in AD 293. He continued operation of the British Carausian mints and coins were issued in his name and bearing his portrait

Allectus, Antoninianus, RIC V (2), No. 33:

IMP C ALLECTVS P F AVG ............................. PA - X - AVG ..... S (Pax standing left) A
M L in reverse exergue.

Cuirassed, radiate, bust
London mint
5.1 gm.
Allectus died in battle with the invading force of Constantius in southern Britain AD 296

Constantius and his son Constantine

In AD 296 Constantius, then Caesar of the West, invaded secessionist Britain and restored it to the Empire as directed by Maximian Herculius, Augustus of the West

RIC Volume VI, Lugdunum, No. 17a, Constantius, Caesar of the West:

[Constantius coin photo][Constantius coin photo]
FL VAL CONSTANTIVS NOB C .............................. GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI

Earliest obverse legend
10.1 gm.
Britannia invasion coinage produced in Gaul at unknown Continental mint

RIC VI, Londinium, No. 47, Constantius, Augustus of the West:
CT (Cloke & Toone), No. 4.02.003, 1 May 305 - 26 July 306, Rarity: S

[Constantius coin photo][Constantius coin photo]

Elevated to Augustus of the West after Abdication of Diocletian and Maximian Herculius
Earliest obverse legend style
Laureate, cuirassed, bust
Died at Eboracum (York) while campaigning against the warlike tribes of the North in AD 306
On his death bed, Constantius conferred Imperium on his son and companion, Constantine
Coin weight: 9.9 gm

RIC VI, Londinium, No. 89b, Constantine, Caesar of the West:
CT (Cloke & Toone), No. 5.03.004, c. November - December AD 307, Rarity: R

[Constantine coin photo][Constantine coin photo]
FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C ........................... GENIO - POP ROM
in reverse exergue

Draped, laureate, bust
Genius with head towered and loins draped
Issued shortly after the death of Constantius following recognition as Caesar of the West by Galerius
9.3 gm

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