Two musket balls and a penny

On Sunday afternoon I headed back to the field I’ve been detecting recently.

I’ve been wondering how long I’d be able to get on it and today I found out. Not for much longer, as it happens, because one side has now been deep ploughed for some 20′ from the edge.

The effect of all the recent rain was plain to see. The cracks in the soil have almost closed up and are now only a few inches deep. More to the point, it’s a lot easier digging and suddenly there are signals where there hadn’t been any before. Unfortunately a lot of them were unmistakeably iron sounds but there were a handful of ambiguous to good signals which kept me occupied for a few hours.

My previous visits had covered most of two quarters in opposite corners of the field so the plan was to do one of the others in some depth and have a cursory scan of the fourth.

After an hour or two spent criss-crossing the 3rd quarter at various angles I’d found a musket ball, an iron ring and a strange strip of filigree-ish metal. My best guess about the latter is that it is possibly the bit from an old oil lamp that sat just below the wick control, but that seems unlikely in practice due to the softness of the metal. If anyone knows what it is, please let me know.

The last field quarter turned up a George III penny, another musket ball (though very poorly cast and probably a reject) and what appears to be a piece of copper alloy slag.

No doubt by now the rest of the field will have been ploughed and I’ve no idea whether it will be possible to detect on this land once it has been seeded. Some farmers seem quite relaxed about it and others not. I suppose I will have to broach the subject.


1 George II 1806 penny
2 musket balls
1 iron ring
1 piece of copper alloy slag
1 funny-looking doodah

160911 Finds.jpg

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.


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

An afternoon on pasture

This afternoon I returned to my second, 60 acre, pasture permission. As I had found a musket ball and a small spectacle buckle while wandering around at the top end of the first field on my previous visit I decided to concentrate on that area today and to detect it systematically.

It was a warm, still afternoon with hazy sunshine and not a breath of wind. The recent rain had softened the soil below the turf considerably since my last visit so digging and reinstating my holes was generally straight forward.

One of the musket balls and the George VI 1940 florin (that’s pre-decimal 2/-, equivalent to 10p) turned up within the first half hour, the other finds being spread across the afternoon. The long, thin doodah appears to be lead or corroded pewter and is extremely soft. Indeed, it was originally slightly more bent than shown as it straightened slightly in being pulled from the soil. The piece of pottery is something of a puzzle, in that it seemed to give a fairly good signal and there was nothing else in the hole.  I am therefore wondering whether the glaze contains haematite. The smaller doodah gave a lead-type signal but it doesn’t seem to be heavy enough for lead. Another puzzle. The piece of lead which I assume to be a damaged or poorly formed musket ball, or casting waste from same, was found within a few feet of the previous musket balls.

It was, all in all, a good afternoon. My first silver coin, albeit only .500 silver, but it’s a start. And there is the question raised by finding 3 musket balls (and a half) in a very small area.

I had a long chat with the landowner afterwards and showed him the finds so far. He is very interested in the history of his land and showed me a Roman grot which he had found as a kid, though he can’t remember whether it was on this land or another farm over towards Stratford. He marked the perimeter of his land on a map for me and indicated the spot where there are supposed to have been cottages at some point in the past. He said that he was told this when a boy by a chap who was then in his 70s and who was therefore probably born in the 1880s, though it’s not clear when the cottages might have been standing. He was also told that Italian PoWs carried out drainage works on the land during WWII so there may be some evidence of their presence, such as coins and uniform buttons, to be found if the report is correct.

The landowner also pointed to the highest point of his land and said that there was thought to be “a graveyard” on that spot. There is certainly no church there or nearby, nor is there any indication in the online resources available to me that this is a known burial site.

Finds: 1 1940 florin, 2 musket balls, 1 damaged or incomplete musket ball (?), 2 funny-looking doodahs and 1 piece of black glazed pottery.

130925 finds

Finally got onto Field 4

I arrived at the farm today to discover that Field 4 was now empty of sheep and was therefore accessible.

When I first started detecting this farm the farmer asked me to detect a particular field (Field 1) which was bordered on one side by the concrete access road to the farm and on a second by an old hollow way. In spring 2012 I had some success towards the bottom end of Field 1 alongside the hollow way, and found a badly broken Polden Hill type fibula, a broken Roman knife and a medieval harness mount, all of which have been recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Access to Field 4 allowed me to follow the old hollow way about 20 yards further without finding anything but a few bits of scrap. Following then the edge of the spinney I dug up half a dozen shotgun cartidges and 3 very strange objects from 3 separate holes only a few inches apart. They are not iron and have many small nobbles and casting faults on what appears to be the inside. Two of the pieces have an incised rim. No idea what they are, so will show them to the FLO.

Returning across the field, found 3 very ordinary buttons in separate spots and more shotgun cartridges. All in all, rather disappointing.

Finds: 3 funny-looking doodahs and 3 buttons

doodahs and buttons