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The 2007 BANS Congress

Held at the Commodore Hotel, Cwmbran, near Newport,
April 13-15 2007.

No less than 75 delegates from all over the British Isles, including eight from Ireland, enjoyed a warm welcome from the organisers, Alan and Noel Cox, and several other members from the hosting South Wales and Monmouthshire Numismatic Society. Some untypically warm Welsh weather added to the pleasure of a relaxed and convivial event.

As befits a Congress held in the principality, there was a strong Welsh theme among the topics chosen for the lectures. Of the nine speakers five employed Powerpoint presentations - slides and OHPs were in the minority for perhaps the first time at a BANS Congress.

Bob Trett, former Curator at Newport Museum & Art Gallery, opened the proceedings with a very detailed and fascinating exposé of the medieval ship found in Newport harbour in 2002. Richard Brewer, Keeper of Archaeology at the National Museum of Wales, presented an overview of Caerwent in Roman times; Nick Wells, from the Department of History & Archaeology at Cardiff University, followed with an extensive look at how currency was used in Wales in late Roman times. Edward Besly, President of BANS and Assistant Keeper of Archaeology and Numismatics at the National Museum of Wales, stepped into the breach left by the sad death five weeks previously of the intended speaker, Diana Condell, Senior Curator of Medals at the Imperial War Museum, by bringing matters up-to-date with a look at some civil gallantry awards awarded to Welshmen - and women - in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Token enthusiasts, who have their own Congress in Swindon in October to look forward to, were amply catered for in Cwmbran. Jeffrey Gardiner made the lengthy journey from Darlington to expose communion tokens - particularly those from Northumberland - to a wider audience, while David Powell, author of the web-based newsletter Leaden Tokens Telegraph, told us about the new classification system for lead tokens he is developing. The fleece as a numismatic image is quite well known, particularly on tokens, but its origin has been rather mired in mystique, which Robert Thompson unravelled with customary detail. Paul Withers, a former member of the host Society, aired some Anglo-Gallic problems of attribution that deserve serious consideration in the light of what is currently in print, while a breath of fresh air was provided by Frances Simmons and her review of the medal as a 20th century art form.

On Saturday afternoon delegates journeyed to St Mary's Priory in Abergavenny, where the Revd. Jeremy Winston provided an amusing and extremely knowledgeable tour around the church's magnificent collection of medieval monuments, some of which date back to the 14th century. Dinner in the evening was followed by an entertaining half-hour of singing by the local male voice choir.