Club Dig – Bicester

Yesterday I went on another of the mid-week digs organised by the Metal Detectives. I like these mid-week digs – with a later start so attenders can avoid the rush hour traffic and a smaller group of generally older detectorists, they are even more laid back than the weekend ones. And of course, a smaller group means being able to go on smaller sites than if there are 50 people traipsing about.

The site was around 70 acres sloping across three fields which were easy digging, rather sandy and recently worked with the new crop starting to come through (judging by the remains of the stubble, the previous crop was barley). On a previous visit, these fields had variously produced: Georgian and Victorian material; Roman coins and an Anglo-Saxon gold ring; and Roman coins, and a number of hammered coins along the line of a footpath. This visit wasn’t to be so fruitful, though a few hammered and a few Roman coins did turn up during the course of the day.

After a chilly start, the day was warm and sunny but very windy. At times it was very difficult indeed to hear the signals, partly due to the strong wind, which seemed to become stronger as the day went on, and partly due to the incessant traffic noise from the motorway a quarter of a mile or so away.

As on other recent digs, I spent the morning in one field and the afternoon in another. My first find of the day was the smaller and grottier of my two Roman coins, and my last find was the larger and better preserved of the two. I’m hoping the FLO will be able to provide at least an approximate identification of the small grot, but I’ve had a tentative identification of the larger to Claudius Gothicus (born sometime between 210 and 214, ruled 268-270 CE).

Finds

2 Roman bronze coins
1 copper alloy rectangular ring
1 piece of lead
1 fragment of pottery
1 handmade nail/tack (possibly Roman)

161005-finds

Tiptoe through the brassicas

On Sunday I was once again out with The Metal Detectives, this time in Oxfordshire not a million miles from Witney.

The dig site was 150 acres spread over two large fields set at right angles to each other with the parking area in the corner between the two. One of the fields ran for about half a mile right to the outskirts of the nearby village and on paper looked rather promising. The soil was largely a sandy loam and easy to dig, and since there had been a fair bit of rain in the 24 hours preceding the dig hopes were high that the soil had been moistened enough to produce good signals.

The fields had been planted with brassicas, the seedlings of which were anything from an inch to six inches tall, interspersed in patches with the remains of the previous year’s bean stalks. Most of the latter were not a problem but there were enough stumps hidden amongst the brassicas to catch on the coil and cause a fair bit of falsing. I found the site very chattery in places and had to drop Deus Fast to 8khz in a few areas, while in other areas there was no chattering at all.

So what came up? By all accounts most attenders found very little. Around 90 minutes after the start of the dig people started to trail back disconsolately towards the cars from what should have been the most promising area over by the village. Elevenses consumed, most then tried their luck on the second field which in theory should have been the less productive of the two yet most people seemed to spend most of the rest of the day there. Unlike most digs where nothing much comes up, there wasn’t a disappointed mass exodus at lunchtime. In fact, most were still swinging away by mid-afternoon.

In terms of finds, I saw a very nice little Roman bronze coin and a photo of a bronze lion-head mount (age unknown) found over towards the village. There was a report of a denarius. I imagine there was more but if so I’ve not yet heard about it.

My own finds were OK – not spectacular, but I came home with one or two bits which are likely to interest the FLO.

Finds

1 book clasp
1 curtain ring
1 Roman coin – badly corroded
2 buttons

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FLO night

I attended the meeting of RHDS this week to get back the finds I handed over in early October and to show the FLO the handful of items found since then that I thought might interest her.

Most of those earlier finds, ie the spectacle buckle, the piece of pottery and the various pistol shot, had been recorded on the PAS database though one or two had upon further consideration been deemed to be insignificant and therefore not recordable.

She also gave me back my farmer’s Roman grot which was grotty enough for her to be able to say only that it was probably 2nd century. I had hoped there might be more definite information for him about it but at least he now knows a little more about it than he did. When I next see him I’ll return the coin and give him copies of the PAS print outs of the recorded items found on his land.

None of the few items I showed the FLO this week was deemed to be recordable.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s off to FLO I go

Yes, it was FLO night at the Redditch Historical Detection Society so off I went to get back the items I handed in to Angie Bolton at the beginning of July and to hand over those found since then. She handed back two curtain rings and the knob off the top of the tobacco jar and accepted almost everything I took with me, to whit: 4 musket balls (actually pistol shot), the piece of pottery (probably Cistercian ware), the spectacle buckle and one of the doodahs which I will get back in early December. She also took a Roman grot which is not mine but which was found by one of my farmers when he was a child. As he cannot remember exactly where he found it it will not be recorded, but the FLO will try to identify it for him.

There were some bloody gorgeous finds being shown around and handed in including 5 gold staters, 3 of them found by one chap and the other 2 by another, all found on a dig near Droitwich.

I also consulted Angie about a possible market or fair site which appears to be currently unknown and which I may have identified from old maps. However the land is arable and has now been replanted so won’t be detectable until August or September 2014.