First detecting session in yonks

On such a glorious spring day yesterday there was no excuse for not getting out to do some detecting. So out I went yesterday afternoon.

Not only was it my first detecting session since the autumn, it was the first trip back to my first, or No 1, permission in about a year. Nos 1 and 2 are pasture permissions so, in theory, available all year. However No 2 has cattle in and No 1 has sheep, and if I am to risk getting between livestock and their young I would rather it was sheep and lambs than cows and calves.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting to find much at all. No 1 produced a few nice bits and bobs from one particular field when I first stated detecting there, but since then it has been pretty barren – so much so that I have toyed with simply abandoning it. Still, a permission is a permission and the farmer is happy to have me there.

Part of the farm is inaccessible at present. One field that leads to several others is currently occupied by a handful of alpacas and half a dozen or so rheas. The alpacas I knew about. The rheas I didn’t. The young male rhea is apparently rather frisky at present and he and the older male have had a few set-tos recently which I didn’t fancy ending up in the middle of, so I went off to a field that I’ve detected before, albeit briefly, but which has produced only a few uninteresting finds in the past.

I started by detecting along the line of a public footpath and bits and bobs started coming up almost immediately. Part of a pewter spoon, then a buckle, a button, another buckle, an iron ring, another button and so on. Over 4 hours of wandering around one end of the field it turned into the most productive session I’ve had on this farm for quite a while and makes me think that while it’s never likely to produce anything spectacular, it’s worth going back for the odd session from time to time.

The most interesting item of the day was a long, thin, copper alloy item (at the bottom of the finds photo) which at first I thought was just a bolt, but when the mud was brushed off started to look like a pipe tamper (I’ve not found one of those so far so it would have been a first). However it has a nobble on the end which, when I researched it at home, sounded more like the handle of a litten spoon, which were frequently cast in a copper alloy and in use from c1550 to c1650. It’s one for the FLO anyway, along with at least two of the buckles.

It was a surprisingly warm day, with a clear sky and not a breath of wind, so I ended up shedding the fleece and detected in a t-shirt. I detected almost until sunset, when it was still warm enough (OK, about 10º C) for just the t-shirt. It’s strange how you get these odd really spring-like, almost early-summer, days in March.

Finds

1 pewter spoon handle
1 copper alloy latten spoon (I think)
1 spectacle buckle, broken at one end
1 copper alloy buckle, outer only
1 small spectacle buckle, complete with pin
1 Elizabeth II half groat
1 funny-looking doodah (broken fragment, probably nothing)
3 small plain buttons

150310 Finds

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Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s off to FLO I go

Yes, it was FLO night at the Redditch Historical Detection Society so off I went to get back the items I handed in to Angie Bolton at the beginning of July and to hand over those found since then. She handed back two curtain rings and the knob off the top of the tobacco jar and accepted almost everything I took with me, to whit: 4 musket balls (actually pistol shot), the piece of pottery (probably Cistercian ware), the spectacle buckle and one of the doodahs which I will get back in early December. She also took a Roman grot which is not mine but which was found by one of my farmers when he was a child. As he cannot remember exactly where he found it it will not be recorded, but the FLO will try to identify it for him.

There were some bloody gorgeous finds being shown around and handed in including 5 gold staters, 3 of them found by one chap and the other 2 by another, all found on a dig near Droitwich.

I also consulted Angie about a possible market or fair site which appears to be currently unknown and which I may have identified from old maps. However the land is arable and has now been replanted so won’t be detectable until August or September 2014.

2nd session on new permission

This afternoon I spent a few hours at the new 60 acre pasture permission, this being my second visit to the site. I’d planned to stay for about 4 hours but in the end gave up after two and a half hours.  The ground has been baked solid in last month’s heatwave, so digging is bloody hard work and reinstating the holes properly afterwards even more difficult, and I’m reluctant to dig unless I know I’m not going to leave a mess. Also, my knee is still giving me gyp a full two months after I injured it.

I also had a brief repeat of last session’s wild chattering from the Deus; I’d laid it down while I dug a hole and when I picked it up again it was chattering hysterically. In the past  month a number of other Deus users have reported this phenomenon and worked out that it is caused by interference from the Garret Pro-Pointer since upgrading the detector’s software to v3.0 in June. Once I’d rebooted the detector and ensured that the pro-pointer was kept well away from it, I had no further problems with the chattering.

After the session, while I was changing my footware at the car, the farmer arrived and stopped for a chat. He told me that he believed there had once been a row of cottages in the field across the stream, and that towards the top end of the land he had once found some WWII military stuff including buttons and dogtags. Both areas sound very promising.

Finds: 2 plain buttons, 1 small modern key and 1 cheap modern buckle made from thin metal.

130803a finds

A random wander

Yesterday I decided to detect up the line of the old road, as close as I could get to it.

My hypothesis with this permission has always been that people in the past were no different from modern motorists and were happy to chuck rubbish out of their cart along the road side as they passed; but also that travellers in times past, moving as they did on foot, horseback or by cart, were much more likely to stop by the roadside or pull off for a rest, so there should be random lost or thrown-away stuff along the old road margins to be found. Nice idea, eh?

Needless to say it didn’t work out that way. I detected right along the edge of the road, up gently rising ground to the field boundary, beyond which lay a belt of trees and an open hill top. And found absolutely nothing except a couple of shotgun cartridges. Not a broken button, not even other rubbish. What’s going on, eh?

Out of curiosity I peered looked down through the foliage into the hollow way that was the old road. Bloody hell! At this point it was at least 10 feet deep, steep-sided and as dark as Hades down there. Talk about a place for an ambush! There wasn’t a cat in Hell’s chance of any traveller pulling off onto the roadside to rest his sweaty feet in the sun. Here be Dragons!

My hypothesis duly kyboshed, I spent a while detecting around the slopes of the hill. The ground was more highly mineralised in this area, the soil was rather heavy clay and the few holes I dug produced the odd piece of rubbish and bits of charcoal. Just charcoal, though. No brick, tile, glass or other evidence of habitation, and the few clumps of nettles nearby were up the slope from where I was digging.

For the last hour I made my way down the slope and across a flat part of the field. This produced a broken copper alloy buckle and what appears to be the remains of a hinge. The latter is not magnetic (according to my trusty fridge magnet) though there are traces of rust in a few places. I suppose I could throw it away, but that would make me unhinged.

Finds: 1 broken buckle and 1 broken hinge

buckle and doodah

A chat with the farmer and an encounter with a hare

Back on the same field (Field 4) as 2 weeks ago, this time for a random wander.

My random wanders aren’t always strictly random. Usually I choose a landmark across the field (a tree, a gate, the corner of the field, a sheep feeder) and work towards it, and when I get there I choose another distant landmark and so on and so forth so that I progressively criss-cross the field in various directions. It has the effect of conducting a good audit of what might be in the field without the tedium of doing a union-jack search.

Again, this field proved disappointing with very few signals in 3 hours and most of those were shotgun cartridges. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, given the proximity of the spinney which must surely once have been used for shooting.

The farmer was working nearby, cleaning out a ditch and culvert. I have only seen him occasionally in the more than 18 months I’ve been detecting on the farm so I wandered over for a chat and learned a few things.

  • The other detectorist I’d spotted several weeks previously had started out on the farmer’s sister’s land adjacent but had apparently found nothing in the couple of sessions he’d spent on those 70 acres of pasture and had been allowed onto my farmer’s land as well to see if he could do any better. Apparently he hadn’t, which from my own experience seems all too believeable.
  • I had been under the impression that the farmer’s family had owned the land for more than 40 years and that it had been pasture when they bought it. In fact they bought it around 1980 and at that time it was under plough.

Gobsmack! If this land was being regularly ploughed until 30 years ago, why is so little coming up? If it had been under pasture since the year dot I could accept that finds had sunk below detector range but clearly this was not the case. So where the hell is everything?

While we were talking I spotted a hare at the far end of the field. Over the next few minutes it galloped along the edge of the spinney, then turned and headed straight for us, stopping about 20 feet away to stare at us. Then it hopped off, squeezed under the gate and hopped along the track towards the farm buildings. A fantastic moment as I’ve never been that close to a wild hare before. The highlight of the day in fact.

Finds: 1 Victorian penny (1876) and 1 iron buckle.

1876 pennyrectangularironbuckle

An invader on my permission – grrrrr

I turned up at my permission today to find someone else swinging away at the top of Field 3. I couldn’t see his features in detail but the silhouette of a Deus is unmistakeable.  And it was something of a shock. When I spoke to the farmer recently he didn’t mention anything about another detectorist on the land.

We spent an hour or so sizing each other up surreptitiously from opposite ends of the field, during which time he made a number of trips back and forth along the far edge but only seemed to dig one hole.  After about an hour he started to make his way nonchalantly towards the gate, having timed his run to ensure that there was no prospect of us meeting unless I sprinted across the field.

Once he was out of sight I wandered over to where he’d been digging to see if he’d filled the hole in. Fortunately he had, making a decent job of it in fact.

Finds: 1 iron harness buckle, 6cm diameter.

Iron buckle