Updated my copy of Spink

I bought a copy of Spink’s Coins of England & the United Kingdom back in 2013 which, to be fair, hasn’t had a lot of use since then as I’ve found very few coins worth looking up. However a seller on Amazon was offering the 2016 edition, new, for £10 including p+p, and well, you just have to, eh? It arrived today, with the decimal coin section now published separately but thrown in for nowt. No doubt the 2017 edition is due to be released very soon but the 2016 one will do me for a while.

I ordered from Ancient Art, if anyone fancies a copy:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/1907427600/ref=tmm_hrd_new_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=&sr=

FLO night at the local club

It was FLO night at the local club last night. Along I tripped clutching my handful of finds. I seem to be getting better at this lark as the FLO accepted everything I took, ie the nummus, the flint blade, the Lizzie halfgroat, the bookclasp, the curtain ring, the corroded possibly-Roman coin and even one of the buttons.

She was slightly puzzled by the bookclasp as she noticed, as had I, that it had a hooked pin on the back which looked more like the hook behind which the sprung pin on a brooch is fastened. But then, it didn’t really look like a brooch either.

She agrees the corroded coin is probably Roman but doesn’t hold out much hope other than to log it as 3rd or 4th century, emperor unknown.

I was somewhat surprised she was interested in the button which she thought might be 17th century. I’d taken it along because although the front dome was very well cast the flat back was rough and unfinished and made it look hand made so I had a hunch it might be “something”.

She also agreed with my tentative identification of the nummus as Theodora based on the bust.

It may be the end of summer but it will be almost Christmas by the time I see this lot again.

Tiptoe through the brassicas

On Sunday I was once again out with The Metal Detectives, this time in Oxfordshire not a million miles from Witney.

The dig site was 150 acres spread over two large fields set at right angles to each other with the parking area in the corner between the two. One of the fields ran for about half a mile right to the outskirts of the nearby village and on paper looked rather promising. The soil was largely a sandy loam and easy to dig, and since there had been a fair bit of rain in the 24 hours preceding the dig hopes were high that the soil had been moistened enough to produce good signals.

The fields had been planted with brassicas, the seedlings of which were anything from an inch to six inches tall, interspersed in patches with the remains of the previous year’s bean stalks. Most of the latter were not a problem but there were enough stumps hidden amongst the brassicas to catch on the coil and cause a fair bit of falsing. I found the site very chattery in places and had to drop Deus Fast to 8khz in a few areas, while in other areas there was no chattering at all.

So what came up? By all accounts most attenders found very little. Around 90 minutes after the start of the dig people started to trail back disconsolately towards the cars from what should have been the most promising area over by the village. Elevenses consumed, most then tried their luck on the second field which in theory should have been the less productive of the two yet most people seemed to spend most of the rest of the day there. Unlike most digs where nothing much comes up, there wasn’t a disappointed mass exodus at lunchtime. In fact, most were still swinging away by mid-afternoon.

In terms of finds, I saw a very nice little Roman bronze coin and a photo of a bronze lion-head mount (age unknown) found over towards the village. There was a report of a denarius. I imagine there was more but if so I’ve not yet heard about it.

My own finds were OK – not spectacular, but I came home with one or two bits which are likely to interest the FLO.

Finds

1 book clasp
1 curtain ring
1 Roman coin – badly corroded
2 buttons

160904

 

A much better detecting session – huzzah!

I have just rejoined The Metal Detectives and had my first recent outing with them yesterday. Needless to say I will not reveal exactly where the dig site was but for those readers who are interested it was somewhere in the Thame area.

The site comprised three arable fields of disked wheat stubble covering 70 acres shared between 35 detectorists. I detected part of one field in the morning and part of a second in the afternoon. Despite the heavy rain and thunderstorms we had last weekend, the soil remains very dry. The first field, which was quite stony in places and produced a lot of “chatter”, was hard to detect and hard to dig more than a few inches down. Genuine signals were few and far between although one hammered coin and a handful of small Roman grots came off it in the morning.

For me it produced a small worked flint blade (which came out of a hole dug to find half a horse shoe) and my first Roman coin – a small copper alloy jobbie which is in pretty good condition with fairly clear detail on both sides.

The afternoon’s field produced my second ever hammered coin – an Elizabeth I halfgroat which has fair detail but looks as though it might have been clipped slightly round the edges. Two Anglo Saxon brooches also came off this field. It was also easier to dig as the soil was less compacted and more powdery.

Now that I’ve had chance to clean the mud off the Roman coin, it looks like a nummus of Theodora (337 – 341 AD) with the Pietas Romana reverse; judging by other Theodora nummi on the PAS  database, mine looks to be in much better condition than many of them so I’m seriously chuffed.

Finds

1 small flint blade
1 small Roman bronze coin
1 Elizabeth I halfgroat

Finds 160831a.jpg

Finds 160831b.jpg

 

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