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

Another cartwheel penny

The promise of a mild, dry and fairly sunny afternoon coaxed me out for another digging session yesterday. This time I headed straight to Field 3 with the intention of detecting a section of the footpath up the slope.

The first few signals were a couple of long, hollow iron bars which I assume once formed part of a gate. Unfortunately they both gave too good a signal to risk leaving them in the ground but at least they were easy to find and dig out.

The first good signal of the day was another cartwheel penny. The one found earlier this week turned up on the footpath across the neighbouring field; today’s also was found on the footpath, some 20 yards away from the first. I can’t help wondering if both coins were lost on a single occasion by the same poor sod. Maybe that was all of his beer money for the week. Today’s penny was also in poor condition and once again Britannia seems to have survived better than George III, of whom nothing can be made out.

The other finds of the day were:

  • The flat-bed part of a broken diecast toy, which might have been a farm trailer or the articulated part of a lorry as one pair of wheels may originally have pivoted.
  • The lid from a tin of Kay’s Compound Pastilles (price 1/11 or 9.5p). The Kay Brothers of Stockport seem to have been manufacturing their various remedies between 1870 and 1880, though possibly also before and/or after those dates. A complete tin, showing what it originally looked like, was offered on Ebay several years ago.

While I was digging I was aware of a tractor working just over the ridge at the the top of the hill and occasionally coming into view. Back at the car, as I was changing my footwear, a landrover drove into the farmyard and the driver introduced himself as the tenant who rents the land from the landowner. This was the first time I’d met the tenant and we chatted for quarter of an hour or so; he was fascinated by the cartwheel penny and said he’d like to see it when it’s cleaned up. Two interesting things emerged from the conversation:

  • He rents a further 250 acres or so in the area and said he would speak to the owner of that land about my detecting it as well (the parish covers two Domesday settlements); and
  • He said there is an oral tradition, via a local 90-year-old, of a “monastery” over towards the same area in which the landowner had previously mentioned a “graveyard”.

I said I’d never come across any reference in the online resources to any sort of religious establishment (other than the parish church in the larger of the two settlements) in the area. “No,” quoth he, “not many people know about it.”

It looks like another trip to Warwickshire archives to look at the old large scale parish maps. There is certainly nothing on ARCHI or the National Heritage List to suggest the presence of a religious house of any sort, so it may be a romantic fantasy or, at best, some vague folk memory of a 14th century swivel-eyed ranty hermit in a tumbledown shack.

Finds: 1 cartwheel penny, 1 broken diecast toy vehicle and 1 lid from a tin of cough pastilles.

131107 finds

Aborted digging session

I went out for the first time in weeks this afternoon, to the newer of my two pasture permissions.

Having had some success in previous sessions detecting the far end of what I refer to as Field 1, which at its narrowest point, at the top end, is crossed by a footpath, my intention today was to cross the stream and detect along the footpath as it crossed the field on the other side, hereinafter “Field 2”. Field 2 proved to be rather squelchy after all the recent rain.

The first signal of the day looked promising, in the low 90s using GM Power at 12kz, but I quickly dug up what appeared to be either unraveled sisal baling twine (what we used to call when I was a kid “Charlie Tanner” for reasons which are a complete mystery to me) – or horsehair. Somewhat worryingly, the fibres were well anchored to something more than 10″ down. Rather than risk digging up the farmer’s kid’s pony, I gave up and filled the hole back in again. Well, you never know.

The second signal produced my only find of the day, a corroded cartwheel penny which has lost its surface on both sides and most of its detail. The outline of Britannia is visible, along with the remains of the lettering on both sides, but poor old Farmer George has disappeared completely. Still, it’s my first cartwheel penny so I’m not grumbling.

Signal three proved to be deeper than I was willing to dig so I gave up on that one too. The soil was very wet and I ended up making a bit of a mess digging the hole and then putting the spoil back.

Now, I don’t like making a mess as it seems disrespectful to the farmer, so I gave up on Field 2 and went to Field 3. This lies beyond Field 2, with the footpath still running through it, but it is further from the stream and on a slope so most of it is higher and drier. Interestingly, on Google’s satellite photographs the footpath shows up as a distinct hollow way, which suggests that it was in regular use over a considerable period of time.

Unfortunately at this point the coil decided to pack up. The Deus hasn’t been used for a few weeks and although the control unit and headphones had been switched off in the meantime the coil had been quietly flashing itself to oblivion. And I didn’t have the ADX 150 in the car as a back-up. So that was the end of that. Curses!

Finds: 1 cartwheel penny. The link above shows what it should look like.

131104 cartwheel penny

Trying out a new field

The farmer was in the farmyard this morning so I asked if I could have a go on some other fields, and he agreed that I could go anywhere on the farm except for fields in which there were ewes without lambs. These would be the pregnant ones that would be vulnerable to upset ahead of lambing. I therefore decided to try another of the fields directly off the farmyard and behind the main barn (hereafter referred to as Field 2) and headed there with the ADX 150.

The field was very wet and still showed evidence of almost-ploughed out ridge and furrow so there were a few hollows where surface water had accumulated. Being so close to the farm buildings there were a few signals that produced the inevitable rubbish such as the sort of foil that used to come from chocolate wrappers, nails and a horseshoe. The only actual find of the day was a George III 1807 penny in the usual grotty condition. Digging was a wet and muddy affair.

In the next field over there were 3 alpacas who came trotting over to the fence to see what I was doing. They were quite friendly, though rather supercilious looking in the way they tend to hold their heads up and look down their noses at you.

Finds: 1 George III penny