Let’s give it another go

We’d had a couple of nights’ rain since my previous permission visit on Thursday. Optimistic, therefore, that the ground might have softened up somewhat in the meantime I decided to give it another go yesterday.

Spade

Nothing doing. The ground was as hard as it had been a few days earlier although superficially it initially looked damper on the surface. I think I mentioned the depth of the cracks in the soil but the disappearing spade says it all. It’s going to take a lot of rain before the soil is back to normal.

I spent about 3 hours wandering around and across a substantial part of the field but again there were very few signals. The prize scrap find was a modern brass tap (“faucet” for the Cousins) of the sort used for field water supplies, still with plastic hose attached; a 19th century machine-made square cut nail; and a fossil. I know. A fossil. The Deus is good but it’s not that good.

The fossil appeared when I dug a piece of scrap. I think it’s Gryphaea (aka the “Devil’s Toenail”), a bivalve mollusc which was around from the Jurassic to the Cretaceous, but if anyone knows otherwise please let me know.

Meanwhile, I’m going to get my spade sharpened.

Finds

1 19th century nail
1 fossil

Nail and fossil

First detecting session in ages

Righty-ho. I see it’s getting on for a year since I last blogged. In fact it’s about the same period since I last went out detecting. Life and things. You know how it is.

So I finally took myself off for an afternoon to the largest permission I have, around 1500 acres of mixed use but mostly arable. By sheer good luck I was finally able to get on the field I’ve been eyeing up beadily for several years. The landowner tends to harvest and then plough and reseed very quickly so there is only a short window in which to get onto the land. Last year this particular field was sown with broad beans and the year before that with rape, and since the bean and rape stubble didn’t have chance to rot down before being ploughed and reseeded detecting it had been nigh on impossible.

This year it had been sown with barley and the crop was off. Huzzah!

Excitement however was quickly dashed. After weeks with almost no rain the soil was so dry it was split by crevasses you could lose a dogsled team down and digging it was next to impossible. Which also meant there was minimal conductivity. I know this field has not been detected as the landowner assured me this was so; moreover it is not accessible by nighthawks so whatever has accumulated over the centuries is still there and waiting to be found. But other than a bit of chatter there was almost nothing.

And it was quite a lot hotter than the weather forecast suggested it would be. And I managed not to take any water with me. Idiot. After an hour and a half I called it a day and staggered back to the car, thirsty and headachy with the heat, sun and dehydration. The whole farm needs a decent amount of rain to both soften up the soil and improve the conductivity before there’s much point going back. Fortunately rain is forecast for the next few days.

Finds

1 x 1860 halfpenny
1 x 1875 halfpenny

Victorian Halfpennies

The stranger and the ring

When my father died he left me a ring which had once belonged to his father. But before long I was thrown into a panic – I had lost it. Racked with guilt, I tuned to a stranger for help.

Gold drew many to South Africa and it was gold that has just reaffirmed my faith in this muddled, mosaic nation.

As a Briton living in Cape Town, I recently received the call nobody wants. My father had passed away. After the funeral in England, my mother showed me dad’s will. It mostly went to her with one named item for me – a gold ring, worn for decades by dad and before him, by his own father.

The stranger and the ring

Rare medieval St George ring found in Norfolk

A 600-year-old gold ring engraved with St George and the Dragon sheds new light on the saint’s medieval followers in Norwich, an expert has told the BBC.

The ring, found by a metal detectorist in South Creake, Norfolk, dates from between 1350 and 1430.

Dr Jonathan Good, author of The Cult of St George, said the ring “attests to the popularity of St George” and may be linked to a guild devoted to the saint.

The ring was ruled to be treasure at an inquest in Norwich this week.

It is set to be acquired by Norwich Castle Museum.

Rare medieval St George ring found in Norfolk

Another disappointing detecting session

I went out this afternoon hoping to be able to get back on the field which back in March produced a sudden flurry of finds, including spectacle buckles and the handle of a litten spoon. Surely the alpacas and rhea would have been moved to another field by now?

There were only sheep lying down in the dappled sunlight under the trees half way along the far side of the field. The coast was clear. I unpacked my rucksack in the shade of the hedge and started detecting. Quarter of an hour later, while on my knees and digging a hole, I looked up to see three adult alpacas and a youngster making a bee-line for me at a fast trot. Not all the sheep were sheep. The boldest two skidded to a halt about 10 feet from me and stood staring. They followed me around for the rest of the afternoon, one of them coming well within touching distance. He/she/it sniffed the coil of the detector, the headphones and Pro-pointer, breathed down my neck, sniffed my hand and eventually nuzzled my face and allowed me to stroke its nose. That one at least was obviously very tame though the others were generally warier.

Unfortunately it was a crap afternoon’s detecting. Although I was working the same area of the same field as a few months ago nothing but rubbish came up, including both halves of broken biro, the inevitable pieces of foil, a corroded metal disk that was the size and weight of an old penny but which had become bright red and orange on one side, broken fragments of green-painted metal and a few small lumps of scrap lead.

So what was going on? I suspect the problem is that the soil is much drier at present than it was in March. There are probably other reasonable finds in that field but they can only be found when the soil conditions are right, ie wetter.

As if that was not bad enough, Tect O Trak stopped tracking me early in the afternoon. Since getting home and doing an internet search, I’ve discovered that some Galaxy S5 phones have been experiencing problems with GPS since downloading Lollipop. Hmmm. Guess who downloaded Lollipop a few days ago. Hopefully it’s an easy fix.

Disappointing as I say. If the weather is decent next weekend I will try to get on one of my new permissions for a change.

Large gold nugget found in Scotland

A nugget of gold found in a river in the Southern Uplands is thought to be the most significant discovery in Scotland in the past 70 years.

The 20 carat golden nugget, which weighed about 18.1g (0.6oz), has an estimated value of £10,000.

It was discovered by a Canadian man during a gold panning course near Wanlockhead in the Lowther Hills.

However the man, known as John, was so unimpressed by his discovery, he almost threw it back in the water.

Large gold nugget worth £10,000 found near Wanlockhead

At little over half an ounce, its real bullion value is less than £500. God knows where they get £10,000 from, unless it’s from Scottish sentimentality.

A disappointing rally, but I have balls

A spur of the moment decision last night saw me heading this morning to the UK Detecting Rallies open rally at Carlton, near Olney, in Northants.

The site was billed as around 120 acres of ploughed, rolled and seeded arable land. ARCHI showed the area to be rich, especially in Roman material. The weather was reasonable (cloudy, around 16C and dry except for light rain mid morning). It all looked very promising, even for an open rally.

My plan was to concentrate on one field in the morning and another in the afternoon. The morning’s field had reportedly produced a William I penny the last time the site had been detected, though apparently on that occasion most diggers spent the day on another field which had produced a couple of Anglo-Saxon pennies and a few later medieval hammies.

Unfortunately it was a dead loss. By the time I left at around 1.30pm, after 3 hours detecting and an hour for lunch and talking to other diggers, the sole reported decent find was of a hammy of some sort from one field.

I didn’t bother with any of the other fields as I left straight after lunch, but it’s obviously possible that other decent finds were unearthed in the afternoon.

My impression, and that of others I spoke to, was that the fields had been more or less detected to death; if they hadn’t, why was nobody finding anything today, notwithstanding any finds on earlier visits? It was an expensive half day out, factoring in the cost of a 160 mile round trip and £15 for the dig fee. The lack of finds was obviously disappointing, but at least I met and chatted to other detectorists.

So what did I find? Nothing indeed to call a “find”, certainly, but the scrap included:

  • 2 golf balls (both surface finds)
  • Several pieces of lead
  • Around a dozen pieces of thinnish, foil-like metal
  • Half a horse shoe
  • The head of a sledgehammer
  • A bolt
  • The bases of half a dozen very small bullets or cartridges, possibly from a rook rifle

As mentioned in an earlier post I have been trying out Tect O Trak which plots your route around a field and shows the positions of any finds against the route. When I reviewed my wanderings around the field, Tect O Trak seemed to have summed the day up pretty well:

carlton

It was, nevertheless, a joy to detect with a pin-pointer that sounds off only when it should do.