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.