NEARLY 2,000 years ago they were jangling in the purses of the movers and shakers of northern Britain.

Now part of a collection of almost 2,000 coins recovered from Aldborough Roman town, near Boroughbridge, has gone on display for the first time at the visitor attraction.

The move follows detailed research into the coins, underpinning the importance of the town as the capital of the Brigantia civitas, the administrative centre for Roman-occupied north England.

Experts have painstakingly catalogued each of the coins, which date from a coin used by the Dobunni tribe in about 100BC to the end of the Roman period, in 410AD.

English Heritage senior curator Andrew Morrison said: "We know Aldborough was a really important centre in the area, but this new information has proved that there was a lot of money around here.

"We have got a lot more high value coinage than we thought we had and the fact we have a coin from the 1st Century BC shows they were using coins that at the time were more than 100 years old."

The collection includes coins from the reign of Septimus Severus, the only Roman emperor to die in York, in 211AD, and from the 4th Century emperor Constantine, who was crowned in York.

Mr Morrison said: "We didn't know much about the collection before, but it has the entire history of Aldborough in coins."

Aldborough was established in about 75-80AD, when the Romans resettled the Brigantes, the tribe which had previously ruled the north of England.

"They wanted to completely Romanise the existing population and the best way to do that was to start from scratch," Mr Morrison said.

He added: "All the ruling council of the Brigantes were based here and this was where the real money was, because they had the real power, putting up civic buildings and collecting taxes.

"This was an important and wealthy and high-status settlement, and the coins cover its history from the middle of the 1st Century to the end of the Roman period.