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

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

First session on the new permission

I made a first visit this afternoon to the new 60 acres of pasture and spent about 3 hours there with the intention of just having a general wander about the field nearest to the farmhouse.

The first find of the day was a George V halfpenny dated 1931 which turned up in more or less the first hole I dug. It’s in nicer condition than appears from the photograph and virtually all of the detail is crisp. Only the most prominent parts of the union flag device on the shield show any signs of wear so it must have been lost not long after coming into circulation.

After about half an hour of detecting the Deus suddenly started to play up, chattering wildly. I had wandered close to the end of a minor or local power line and assumed this had upset it, but despite switching the control unit and the headphones off and on repeatedly the chattering kept on recurring. I must have switched it all off and back on again several dozen time, and at one point the control unit sent up the worrying message “No coil”. Some programs seemed to be worse affected than others, or rather programs Basic 1, Basic 2 and GMaxx (1, 9 and 5 respectively) seemed to be the least affected. I tried other areas of the field and kept switching programs to see what worked best but I found that if I laid the detector down for the minute or so it took to dig a hole it was chattering away again when I picked it up. I’m not sure what’s going on here, and really hope the coil is not about to pack up on me, but I will try it again in the garden and see about rolling back the software to v2 and then forward to v3 again in case something has been corrupted.

The only other finds worth mentioning were a modern button and yet another copper alloy ring of the belt ring or curtain ring variety. The stuff not worth mentioning (but I will anyway) included a strip of copper, a scrap of lead or pewter and a lump of coke.

The afternoon was uncomfortably warm and there were a few blood sucking insects about, especially under the line of trees along one edge of the field. I was also troubled by my knee which is still bloody painful to kneel on even using heavy duty knee pads. By the end of 3 hours and a dozen or more holes dug, it was very tender and I’m starting to wonder if it will be a couple of months yet (ie, the end of the summer) before it’s back to normal. 3 hours detecting seems to be my limit at present because of this.

Finds: 1 button, 1 George V 1931 halfpenny and 1 copper alloy ring.
130630 finds

Gloucester medieval penny bought for £2,000 by museum

A 930-year-old silver penny which was found in a field near Gloucester has been sold to a city museum for display.

The medieval coin, hammered during the reign of William the Conqueror, is said to be of “major historical importance”.

Gloucester City Council paid £2,000 for the penny, which was found in Highnam by Maureen Jones, a member of Taynton metal detecting club, in 2011.

Before the discovery, experts had no evidence of coins being minted locally between 1077-1080.

The hammered coin features the name Silacwine and where it was minted.

Gloucester medieval penny bought for £2,000 by museum

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

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