Romans bribed ancient tribes

THE discovery of a second hoard of Roman coins at an Iron Age settlement in Moray has confirmed controversial claims that the ancient Caledonians were brought to heel by corruption rather than confrontation.

The warlike tribesmen of the north were just as likely to take a back-hander in Roman silver than take to the battlefield when it came to their dealings with the legions of Rome.

And pacifying the native warriors the Romans knew as "the painted ones" was simply down to good old fashioned bribery.

The first hint that the all-conquering Roman legions had resorted to paying off the local tribesmen rather than fight them first surfaced last year when a team of archaeologists from the National Museums of Scotland unearthed a hoard of 300 Roman coins during excavations at an Iron Age settlement at Birnie, near Elgin.

The silver denarii coins, worth the equivalent of a year’s pay for a Roman legionnaire, were found inside the broken earthenware pot in which had been buried more than 1,800 years ago, during the reign of the Emperor Severus, who attempted the last Roman invasion of Scotland.

And the dig’s leader, Fraser Hunter, the curator of Iron Age and Roman archaeology with the National Museums of Scotland, is convinced he now has the proof he needs that the pragmatic Romans simply resorted to corruption to keep the Caledonians in check.

The second hoard was discovered only ten yards away from the cache which was found last year.

The clay pot in which the coins are contained was intact and has now been taken to Edinburgh for further investigation and conservation.

Mr Hunter said: "To find a second pot full of coins was the last thing I was expecting. It is absolutely unparalleled and a completely amazing find."

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