Archive | March, 2013


30 Mar


I’ve been meaning to post about this for several days now; on the 25th of March, my Thames Foreshore Permit arrived. For the next three years, I’ll be able to dig on the foreshore to a depth of seven centimeters, scouring the banks of the tidal Thames for treasure and relics. If I report enough finds to the PAS and the Museum of London over that period, I’ll be eligible to apply for one of only about fifty mudlark permits, and to become a member of the Society of Thames Mudlarks.

The permit arrived with various maps depicting in detail which areas I am eligible to detect and search. I hope that my Maldon training lends itself to the Thames search. It would be a rare and fine thing to belong to the society.


Return to Maldon

27 Mar

Armed with waders (well, one of us, at least), snowshoes, a floating sieve, and a glass-bottomed coffee can for seeing beneath the surface refraction of the river, we returned to Maldon to make another attempt at the foreshore’s secrets.

Low (spring) tide was at 6.33 am, so we had to get quite an early start. There were other difficulties, too, including a broken snowshoe, and our inability to work together as only one of us could dare the mud.

On the positive side, I began to sort out the signals the AT PRO was giving me in some very challenging ground (tidal water with plenty of junk iron). There were little rivulet intake streams cutting into the profound drifts of mud on their way to join the river; in periods of storm these must become more pronounced to drain adjacent inland areas, and they seemed likely spots for metal/coinage losses. In a couple of these I did find modern coins, and I also found an old spike of metal, probably lead.

After the tide came in, setting our bucket adrift and almost carrying it off, Kurt and I drove past the stature of the Saxon warrior Byrthnoth, who defended Maldon (unsuccessfully) from Danish Viking raiders in 991. Like the raiders, I suspect we will return to the river at some point, better armed and clad for its perils…


Forrest Fenn Treasure Resource Page

18 Mar

Forrest Fenn Treasure Resource Page

A page of resources for those seeking Forrest Fenn’s treasure…from his official website.


Maldon Misadventure

18 Mar

In which we spend five minutes braving the deep, stinky mud (and goose poop) to detect the Crown Foreshore in Maldon.

Wet, Muddy Day in Essex (Maldon and West Mersea)

18 Mar

We started off detecting on a bit of Crown Foreshore in Maldon. Spirits were high, but so was the mud — almost four feet deep in places. I nearly lost my wellies twice in the first moments.

IMG_9360Hannah at Maldon IMG_9362 IMG_9363

After five minutes spent fighting the mud in Maldon, we decided to move on for some beach digging at (relatively) nearby Mersea Island. It was very near high tide, so conditions weren’t optimal, but Aga got to try her first detecting. Kathleen had the most consistent success, turning in three modern coins with her Ace 250.

IMG_9420 IMG_9372 IMG_9383 IMG_9384 IMG_9385IMG_9386

Kat’s lucky trio:


Aga’s first ‘find’, a bit of aluminium:


This was all that West Mersea gave up today: IMG_0040

I was intrigued by this object. I’m not sure whether it is sedimentary rock scored by some invertebrate, or perhaps a decorated bit of bone. Can anyone identify it?IMG_0042


Apex Prospecting Pick ‘Extreme’

18 Mar

In another unpacking video, my dad receives the top-of-the-range Extreme pick from Apex, with three rare-earth magnets built into the pick head. My friend Gabriel thinks the blog medium privileges puns; I don’t know how that is, but I did almost call this post ‘Pick of the Litter’ or ‘Pick a Winner’.


Surprise Unpacking Video

16 Mar

The girls volunteer to help with an unpacking video, not knowing that what they unpack will change their detecting future…forever.

Junior Metal Detectorists

16 Mar

The kids tried out the CS3MX the other evening, but as these pics make clear, it was a bit oversized. Gooey suggested getting them a kid’s detector, and Aga elaborated the idea into a detector each.

IMG_9293 IMG_9290Here are the pics from this morning; Britain’s newest detectorists:

IMG_9337 IMG_9339


15 Mar

Over the last couple of days, I’ve made my first couple of gear mods. The first was a homemade waterproofing of my Garrett Pro-Pointer. To do this, I put non-hardening plumber’s putty on the threads of the battery compartment, and also into the speaker port and around the on/off switch. Then I covered the latter two areas and the lightbulb with a flexible, waterproof sealant similar to goop or RV sealant. I borrowed the idea from Beau Ouimette’s YouTube video: Joined with the waterproof AT PRO and waterproof headphones, I will be ready for completely submersible hunting (important for UK rainstorms).


The next project I took on was to make my own coin popper. In an earlier post, I talk about the value of the popper as a coin recovery tool, particularly in areas where shovels are a no-go. To make the popper, I bought a weed/root popper from B&Q and filed smooth the tines, as below. I also filed a phillips head screwdriver to a blunt tip, to be able to use it as a coin probe without scratching the targets.

ImageCoin popper detail:ImageThe final project was to prepare an ore-analogue for inclusion in a test garden that Kurt and I will be installing at his place. We will post more on this topic soon; essentially, a test garden allows you to get to know your detector well in tightly controlled conditions with various objects buried at known depths. In their You Can Find Gold With a Metal DetectorCharles Garrett and Roy Lagal recommend grinding down a penny to copper dust and then agglutinating the dust into a ball; placed in the ground, this will simulate an ore deposit for your detector. It took some time, but I used a hand file to reduce a penny to dust (for legal reasons, I will omit to say which currency the penny was drawn from. Suffice it to say it was mostly copper as opposed to non-copper alloy).

The filing process:ImageThe ad-hoc ore sample (the dust has been placed into a pool of glue and allowed to harden). Once buried, this will appear to a detector like a diffuse amount of conductive ore, rather than a solid coin:Image

Low-Impact Coin Recovery Methods

13 Mar

When coinshooting or searching for jewellery in most parks or schools, it is probably best to avoid schlepping a shovel (of any size) around with you. Seeing a digging implement, many observers will suspect the worst; some may even notify authorities. Over time, such encounters may lead to more areas being closed to the hobby.

The good news is that with practice, you can become proficient with coin ‘popping’ methods like the one shown below. This leaves no plug behind to turn brown or betray your visit. These ‘Recommended Recovery Methods’ come from Bob Sickler at Tesoro Metal Detectors (



Used in less moist lawns where targets are not so deep (one to four inches) and the “Plugging” method is objectionable. The Probe and Driver method requires more practice but is much less damaging to grass than Method 2. The probe used can be a non-metallic probe such as a modified fiberglass fishing rod or a metallic probe such as a blunted ice pick. A non-metallic probe will be the least damaging to the target. After pinpointing target, use the probe to locate target depth (Fig. 1A). Next, insert eight-inch screwdriver on center just above target and rotate slightly to open ground (Fig. 1B). Now insert screwdriver just under target at an angle and lever target to surface (Fig. 1C). Brush all loose dirt back in the hole and close by exerting pressure all around opening (Fig. 1D).



Used only where allowed in natural wooded areas and very moist lawn areas. Plugging in hard dry ground can damage grass roots, leaving yellow “dead spots” in time. After pinpointing target, cut three sides of a four-inch cube around target center (Fig. 2A) using a six-inch sturdy hunting knife. Cutting a “hinged” cube rather than a cone shaped plug will properly orient its return, prevent removal by a lawnmower, and lessen the chance of scratching the target. With the knife blade, carefully pry against the cube side opposite the “hinge” (uncut side) and fold back (Fig. 2B). Scan searchcoil over plug and hole to isolate target location. If target is in plug, carefully probe until located. If target is in hole and not visible, probe bottom and sides until located and remove (Fig. 2C). Repeat scan for additional targets. Replace all loose dirt with plug. Seat plug firmly with foot (Fig. 2D).

And here’s some additional advice from wpaxt over at the Friendly Metal Detecting Forum:

You will need to practice. A test garden/patch is helpful. Once you know the sweet spot of the coil you are using & can approximate depth (either thru a meter or tone) it can be done rather easily. Obviously if the coin is deep then a plug is the way to go. A trick to use with really shallow coins (3″ or less) is to scrub the point of your pinpointer over the ground. You should be dead center when the probe sounds off. Last thing, be aware that an ice pick, if applied with too much pressure, will scratch a coin. I prefer a brass probe, but you still have to be careful.