FLO night at the club

Along I went to collect the items handed in in September and to hand over the latest batch.

Finds from Thame area dig – blog entry dated 1 September 2016

The flint was recorded as a Mesolithic or Neolithic rejuvenation flake dating to 8,300 – 2,100 BCE. The  Lizzy Halfgroat is London mint dating to 1591 – 1594 AD. The Roman coin was confirmed as a commemorative copper alloy nummus of Theodora dating to 337 – 341 AD.

Finds from Witney area dig – blog entry dated 5 September 2016

The book clasp was confirmed as being of a copper alloy and dating to anywhere between 1500 and 1700. The curtain ring is a very ordinary copper alloy ring of mediaeval or post-mediaeval date so from anywhere between the 14th and 18th centuries. The rounded button was judged to be of 18th century date and not recorded.

Find from XP rally near Burford

The Roman coin was identified as a radiate of an unknown emperor but dated to somewhere between 260 AD and 296 AD.

The FLO took from me:

1 musket ball
1 possible musket ball
1 copper alloy ring which may be of Roman date
4 Roman coins
1 small piece of grey pottery (possibly Roman)
1 small iron nail or tack – probably a Roman boot or sandal hobnail
1 piece of reddish-orangey stone which shows possible signs of having been worked to some extent.

Sadly, all the lumps of curved orangey-pink rough ceramic are just modern drainage pipe. Bang goes my Roman building. Eheu!

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

Club Dig – Daventry

Sometime back in the spring I indicated interest in joining a particular metal detecting club, and having received no response to my initial enquiry I shrugged my shoulders and forgot about it completely. Then a fortnight ago I received an invitation to join it and, after a telephone conversation with the organiser, coughed up my joining fee. And yesterday I attended my first club dig with 49 other detectorists on around 100 acres of stubble somewhere in Northamptonshire. Actually in the general area of Daventry but that’s the closest geographic information you’re going to get.

Unfortunately when we arrived the farmer had covered the lot with chicken shit poultry manure. Even more unfortunately the locals complained about the stink so he ploughed the lot and ploughed it deep enough to involve ridges and furrows, around 18″ from crest to crest and some 9″ or thereabouts from trough to crest. Not good, especially as both troughs and crests were liberally scattered with great clods which made swinging the detector decidedly problematic. The state of the fields was very like that faced several weeks earlier at the NCMD Shakespeare Hospice Rally, though the soil in this case was more loamy than the solid clay of the Stratford area. It was therefore softer underfoot, less likely to break ankles, and quite a lot easier to dig.

During the course of the morning, the farmer took a tractor and disking unit around the outside edges of the fields to mitigate the worst of the troughs and furrows, but by late morning a nearby pasture field had been opened up for those who were struggling on the ploughed land.

After a couple hours on the ploughed fields, during which I found one (count ’em) musket ball, and after a coffee and a Twix, I repaired to the pasture field where I dug a fair amount of rubbish, including a large horse shoe, a handful of shotties and an air filter unit from a vehicle of some sort, and my only other actual find of the day – a halfpenny. There was the usual evidence of selfish behaviour on the pasture field: I swung my detector over at least 3 holes which gave off very loud signals, and there were at least half a dozen others where the turf had been put back only approximately and a substantial soil scatter left around the hole. I wonder if clubs ever really manage to stamp out this sort of behaviour.

Overall, finds were understandably rather sparse. The site had been visited previously with good results, but by the time I left at around 2.30pm the best finds that day included a mediaeval book clasp, a siliqua, a half-groat and a handful of other similarly pleasing but not spectacular finds.

But one good thing – the club has an absolute rule that headphones must be worn while detecting, so that although there were a number of Garrett Ace machines on the fields the rest of us were spared the incessant distant and not-so-distant ding-donging of the Yellow Perils.

Looking back, I wish I’d hung around longer and chatted to more people. At the time I left dark, thunderous-looking clouds had been building for an hour or more and it looked as though a downpour was in the offing but as I was driving back to the motorway the sky cleared and everything was bathed in late afternoon sunlight. Unless we get an Indian summer, that may have been the last hooray of this year’s fine weather.

Finds: 1 musket ball and 1 1958 halfpenny.

131005 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

A few hours’ detecting

Took myself off to Permission 2 for a few hours’ detecting this afternoon – the first session in over a month.

Although the recent rain has softened the top inch or so of turf, below that the soil remains hard and difficult to dig – and even harder to reinstate afterwards. The field is still occupied by both sheep and cattle, and there are an awful lot of cowpats. Annoyingly, the best 3 or 4 signals of the afternoon were all under very fresh cowpats, and when I say “fresh” I mean fresh to the point of almost-still-steaming. Sod’s Law, eh? I spent the session in the top half of this first field, with an hour or so detecting each of three separate areas of the field. The last hour or thereabouts was spent at the far end and it was from this area that the afternoon’s few finds arose.

The spectacle buckle is the first such example that I’ve found. I’m not entirely clear as to the date but it will be somewhere between c1450 and c1700 so it’s one for the FLO. It’s just a shame that the pin, being iron, has rusted solid and spoiled the outline of the buckle itself. The musket ball is also a personal first. I doubt the FLO will be terribly interested in it but I will show her it anyway.

The penny is interesting for the degree of accretion that it has suffered. The date is not clear but appears to be 1930-something. The land was under plough until some 10 years ago, so whether the accretion is due to chemical fertilisers used before then or to urine etc from livestock since then I have no idea.

Finds: 1 musket ball, 1 small spectacle buckle and 1 badly accreted George V penny, c1930.

130910 finds