Club Dig – Daventry

I signed up for another club dig and took myself off to the Daventry area early yesterday morning, though to a different site to the one visited on 6th October. This site was described as 80 acres of rotted wheat stubble that turned out to be 80 acres of long (around 8″) unrotted wheat stubble. Which caused no end of problems. Why? The choices were:

  1. Trying to swing the detector close to the ground was hard work and noisy as the coil scraped through the stalks, and the sensitivity had to be turned down to stop the coil chattering every time it hit them. But turning the sensitivity down meant you sacrificed depth. OR
  2. Swinging the coil above the stalks was easier and quieter but still cost depth because you were detecting 8″ of empty air.

In other words, you couldn’t win. Stubble needs to be either well rotted, so that it falls apart when the coil hits it, or very short, say no more than 3″, so you could swing over the top of it without sacrificing most of the detector’s depth.

Within half an hour one person had found a Tealby penny but no other worthwhile finds were reported before lunch time. In fact the field was generally quiet, with very few signals and those there were seemed to produce only bits of lead, lumps of iron, coke, a few ringpulls, the odd horse shoe, lengths of aluminium tubing, bottle tops etc. To be fair I did find a monkey wrench and a very corroded 1″ diameter copper or bronze disk. In the field I assumed the latter to be a Georgian halfpenny or similar trade token but having properly cleaned it up and photographed it I fancy I can see the ghosts of a woman and child in it. Can anyone else see what I mean?

In the afternoon, because so little had been found on the original field, a second one of some 90 acres of similar stubble was made available. Accordingly most people gave this field a try, but it too proved disappointing and was also quiet, producing the same assortment of rubbish as the first field.

By the time I left at a little after 2pm the only other interesting find was a bronze item shaped like a frog or tortoise with ring-shaped markings on its back. If that and the Tealby penny are the sum total of actual finds for the day this will be hugely disappointing considering how interesting the area looked on paper. The question is whether there really is nothing there to find or whether the length of the stubble has been the problem.

Finds: 1 corroded copper or copper alloy disk.

131116 finds

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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.

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