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Dr. Sam Moorhead

Dr. Sam Moorhead received the 2019 medal from the Royal Numismatic Society this April. Sam graduated from UNC in 1983 with Classical Archaeology and Ancient History. He works as a Finds Adviser for Iron Age and Roman coins at the British Museum, inside the Portable Antiquities and Treasure department.

“Without my time working on coins at UNC (including your departmental ones from Israel / Palestine) this would never have happened.” Moorhead said in correspondence with the department.

The Royal Numismatic Society was founded in 1836 for the study of study of coins, medals and related currency items. According to the RNS website, the Society’s Medal is awarded annually to ‘some person highly distinguished for services to Numismatic Science’.

Below we’ve included details from the society’s newsletter as to Moorhead’s achievements.


From the Royal Numismatic Society’s e-newsletter for April 2019:

RNS Medal

We are thrilled to announce that Sam Moorhead has been named the RNS medallist for 2019

Sam is the National Finds Adviser for Iron Age and Roman coinage for the Portable Antiquities Scheme. In 2011 he was voted Current Archaeology’s ‘Archaeologist of the Year’ for his work on the Frome hoard, one of the biggest Roman coin hoards ever found in Britain. Its prodigious size involved many months of writing and publicity to progress the case through the Treasure system and raise its public profile (the initial recovery of the hoard was such an example of good practise that Frome was awarded the Golden Trowel for the ‘Rescue dig of the year’ also by Current Archaeology). His A History of Roman Coinage in Britain illustrated by finds recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (Greenlight 2013), won the Royal Numismatic Society’s Lhotka Prize.

Sam is very active in raising the public profile of archaeology, numismatics and Treasure at all levels: he is an Honorary Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology (UCL) and a NADFAS lecturer but has also visited about 80 Detecting Clubs around the UK and is a prolific writer of articles in magazines such as Treasure Hunting. This fascination with both numismatics and a zeal to communicate it within its wider context is illustrated by his career to date. For twelve years he taught Classics, Archaeology and Ancient History at Ardingly College, before joining the British Museum as Staff Lecturer in Archaeology in 1997. He became the National Finds Adviser for Iron Age and Roman coins for the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) in 2006, based in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum.

Sam has written widely on Classical numismatics and history (often with other authors – who can all attest to his invaluable creativity in any such partnership):The Frome Hoard (2010), AD 410 The Year that Shook Rome (2010), The Romans who Shaped Britain (2012) and 31 BC, Antony, Cleopatra and the Fall of Egypt(2012). He has also written chapters on coinage in the Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage (2012) and the Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain (2016). His current major research for the new fully revised edition of RIC on the reigns of Carausius and Allectus is eagerly anticipated. Many times Sam has demonstrated his unerring ability to present coins to the public as museum displays often drawing in those who presumed they had no interest in the subject through their connections to grand history and everyday ancient society. His major touring exhibition ‘Rome, City and Empire’ will move this year (2019) from Australia to Belgium in 2020. Concurrently Sam also has a more locally themed show in Torquay, Ipplepen: Rethinking the Romans in Devon’ which demonstrates the amazing breadth of audiences he can regularly juggle. It is a truly stunning lifetime of achievement.

Congratulations, Sam!

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