Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Sego legend on coins of the Catuvellauni -- part two

My copy of Evans, The Coins
of the Ancient Britons
, 1864,
an Ambiani stater on the cover
Sir John Evans was the father of British Celtic coin studies as well as being one of the originators of modern archaeology. Considering how little material he had to work with, compared to today, his insights are quite remarkable. Here are some excerpts with regard to the SEGO legend:
"...the name of TASCIO is found associated with the word EICON or RICONI, and also with the word SEGO. It would appear probable that both these words are intended to designate towns within his dominions, especially as SEGO occurs on the obverse of a silver coin, having precisely the same reverse as a coin of Verulam in the same metal, but with VER on the obverse. ... The word SEGO seems plainly to point to the tribe of the Segontiaci, whose chief city appears to have been known as Segontium, or by the Britons as Caer Segont. Henry of Huntingdon thus identifies the town, " Kair-Segent quæ fuit super Tamesin non longe à Redinge et vocatur Silcestre." As will be subsequently seen, there is some doubt as to this identification being correct. But wherever the town was situated, it seems pretty clear that the tribe was one of those which were under the rule of Tasciovanus." (p.225) 
"... so also the SEGO on this must have a geographical signification. Whether, as was the case on the coins of Verulam, it stood for the name of a town — Segontium — or whether merely for  the name of the tribe of the Segontiaci, like the ECEN for the Iceni on their coins, must, to a certain extent, remain an open question.
"The first, and indeed the only mention of the Segontiaci among the classical writers, is by Caesar, [V, 21] who records that they were one of the British tribes, who sent embassies and made submission to him. Their name appears to have been unknown to Ptolemy, but seems to have been preserved in a votive inscription found at Silchester, inscribed DEO HER[CVLI] SAEGON.  Camden locates the tribe on the north edge of Hampshire, in Holeshot hundred, and makes Vindonum to have been their chief city, but on what authority, is by no means clear. 
"It would seem probable that he did so, in consequence of having identified Silchester with Vindomum, and of having found, from Henry of Huntingdon, that that city was anciently called Kair Segent, or the city of the Segontiaci 
"There is, however, a preponderance of evidence in favour of identifying Silchester with Calleva, the chief town of the Atrebates, so that possibly Henry of Huntingdon, who wrote as late as about a.d. 1140 — 50, may have erred in fixing Kair Segent at Silchester, though he may have been correct in saying that it was "super Tamesim non longe a Redinge." Certainly, if the CALLE on the coins of Eppillus refers to Calleva, and that town was known long afterwards as Calleva Atrebatum, the SEGO on the coins of Tasciovanus does not refer to the same place. My own opinion is that the Segontiaci must have been settled farther north than they are placed by Camden, and that they probably had some chief town known by the name of Segontium, the site of which has still to be ascertained. The Segontium mentioned in the Itinerary of Antoninus must not in any way be confounded with this, its site being fixed on valid grounds at Caernarvon. It is not, however, of much importance whether we find on these coins the name of the tribe or that of their chief town. They certainly seem to establish the fact of the Segontiaci having been one of the tribes who were under the rule of Tasciovanus ; and, as will shortly be seen, it is probable that their territory fell, at his death, to the share of his son Epaticcus, while the eastern part of his dominions came under the dominion of Cunobeline." (274-5).
This text is copied from Google plain text version and then corrected from the original book.

Tomorrow, we look start with looking at SEGO as town/tribe name, which I believe is more likely than a personal name, and I might be able to shed some further light on the confusion about Silchester.

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