I had hoped to post this before midnight but didn’t quite make it, so when I write ‘today’, I am actually referring to yesterday, the 7th of April. It was the day of my first dig with the Oxford Blues Metal Detecting Club, on two fields in stubble at a place called Radley, about two miles southwest of Oxford.
My dad came with me as a guest to experience his first metal detecting trip. We only had about two and a half hours, as we had planned a trip to Bath later in the day, but we made the most of the restricted schedule. We took turns detecting and digging, and once the detectorist called out a target, we switched roles, whether the find was rubbish or not.
Within about a half hour, I found my first coin ever. I was sure it was a ‘hammy’, a hammered coin, but one of the old timers said that due to its thickness, it was probably a jetton — a token circulated as money in times of currency shortage. The coin/jetton is so corroded that no image or legend is visible on either side, so I’m not sure that I’ll be able to identify it. Still, a thrilling find.
Soon thereafter, my dad turned up a small-bore lead musket ball. If he hadn’t been hooked on the hobby before then, I’m quite certain that did it. In fact, we were so excited about our finds that we brought Kurt back with us for an additional hour (like children begging for a final two minutes of playtime). We only found aluminium in the last phase, but we did get to see a beautifully preserved Saxon silver penny that another detectorist turned up in the field.
It is remarkable to encounter history in this way — to think, for example, of the fellow who must have dropped the jetton from a pocket several hundred years ago, or the farmer (or soldier!) who fired the ball. Our experiences definitely inflected the trip to Bath, where several hundred Roman coins are on display in the Roman baths museum. During the museum visit, I tended to think more about the metalsmiths, the merchants, the buyers behind the coins than about the objects themselves (though to be honest, some of them were of silver or gold, and dead pretty)…
(hours detecting: 3)