Celtic gold “rainbow cups” found in Brandenburg

A group of 41 Celtic gold cup-shaped coins have been discovered near the village of Baitz in Brandenburg, northeastern Germany. These are the first and only Celtic gold coins ever discovered in Brandenburg.

Rainbow cups are bowl-shaped coins made of precious metals that are found in the territory of the Celtic La Tène culture of central Europe. (They received their moniker because they were often discovered by farmers when ploughing their fields after heavy rain, so a folk legend sprang up that gold cups would be found wherever a rainbow had touched the ground.) They are often decorated with Celtic iconography. The ones discovered in Baitz are smooth, with no decoration on the surface. It is the second largest hoard of smooth rainbow cups ever found.

There was no Celtic population in Brandenburg — a settlement from the early Germanic Jastorf culture occupied the site — so these precious objects likely reached the settlement over Iron Age trade networks.

They were discovered by Wolfgang Herkt, an officially appointed volunteer archaeologist trained and overseen by the Brandenburg State Office for the Preservation of Monuments and Archaeological State Museum (BLDAM). He first came across a group of 11 coins, and a follow-up excavation turned up another 30 for a total of 41 gold coins. There are also silver and copper cups. The bronzes may have been counterfeits; bronze coated in a thin layer of gold have been found before in cup hoards, a deliberate deception to pass off false coinage as the genuine article.

The rainbow cups are scheduled to go on display at the Brandenburg State Archaeological Museum in the spring.

2 thoughts on “Celtic gold “rainbow cups” found in Brandenburg

  1. Neither Hallstatt nor Latène (not even Heuneburg) are in what today is Bavaria, but Manching was indeed one of their larger oppida.

    However, for the particular ‘Star Money’ check:

    a) Description:


    b) Objects, (click on the images to zoom in):


    The larger find is the 2nd century BC hoard of 366 “rainbow cups” from Wallersdorf, near Dingolfing. The coins without motifs might have been ‘workpieces’, waiting to get local ones.


  2. It is unclear to me, how many of these ‘stories’ have survived, but here the one about the “Podmokl coin hoard” (from the village of Podmokly nad Berounkou, Czech_Republic).


    In 1771, while mowing a meadow on the left bank of the Podmokl stream, the farmer Jan Koch, called Janota, saw an exposed bronze vessel in a crack of water. Inside the rotten vessel were about 5,000 Celtic gold ‘rainbow cups’ from the middle of the 1st century BC with a purity grade of 986/1000, as well as a necklace. The deposit find is probably connected with the Celtic hill fort in Hradiště. According to the local historian Antonín Drachovský (1842-1914), the coins should have weighed 80 pounds. Other estimates put the number as high as 7000 coins weighing one metric hundredweight.

    The treasure was initially divided among the inhabitants of Podmokl, who thought the coins, unknown to them, were brass buttons. The village blacksmith received an order from a peasant to make shoe buckles from a larger number of the buttons. Through Jewish peddlers, the true value of the find was finally revealed to the peasants. After the landlord prince Karl Egon I of Fürstenberg became aware of the find to which he was entitled, he had the coins collected and confiscated. He was finally able to obtain the largest part of the treasure. The report listed about 4200 coins.

    Karl Egon I of Fürstenberg had the largest part of the coins melted down and minted Fürstenberg gold ducats from them. A small part of the find came to the Princely Collection at Donaueschingen Castle. The prince donated further Podmokl coins to various coin collections.

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