Archive | February, 2015

First Hunt with NEL Big Coil

28 Feb

I’m posting this about a week late, as I’ve been busy with my latest thesis chapter. Last Sunday, the 22nd February, found me at an OBMDC dig in Rycote. The fields had apparently given up a gold half stater on a previous dig, but this was the thirteenth (13?!) time the club were visiting, and the bashed fields had nothing left to give. It was as quiet as a cemetery at midnight, so not ideal conditions for testing the depth capabilities of the new NEL Big Coil which just arrived from the Ukraine.

NEL Big Coil compared to stock AT Pro coil

NEL Big Coil compared to stock AT Pro coil

I searched for an hour and a half anyway, until the battery in my Propointer died, but all I managed to find was a modern 20p and a (possibly Tudor) clothes fastener (Update: this looks like a base metal clog clasp, like one of these).

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Due to the conditions, it’s too early to say whether the NEL coil will do what I need it to on the pasture land of my P. I know there is a hoard out there; the location, its unspoilt condition, and proximity to settlements from all major phases of British history practically guarantee it. But at the end of the day, you still have to walk over it (and have a machine that can see far enough into the ground).

Three More Digs

20 Feb

I.4 (18 February 2015)

Back on my first P to search some upland, and I quickly discovered a threepenny bit from 1944. Pressing on I found a 1945 farthing and then an older coin whose legend had been rendered illegible. The best find of the day was what I thought to be a medieval spoon (but what may well be an escutcheon cover for a lock from that period):

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Iron Age coin?

Iron Age coin?

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Kat’s version of my ‘spoon’ find (with associated coin to show relative size):


III.1 (20 February 2015)

I arranged for a fifth permission yesterday, and as it happens, the landowner is himself interested in detecting. We arranged a short hunt together today on a part of his farm where five different historic tracks converge. It was impossible to go one foot in any direction without finding a target, and so many of these targets were modernish buttons, that I soon nicknamed the area ‘Button Alley’. Not long afterward, I began to think that someone had salted the earth with buttons to prevent detecting. (As it turns out, the landowner’s father explained that the fields had once been strewn with ‘shoddy’ to enrich them; shoddy is bits of rag and wool, and many of these would have had buttons attached). The landowner did manage to find a modern pound coin, and I turned up a lovely George V (1918) penny, in excellent condition.


Many of the larger brass buttons were lovely Air Force buttons featuring a bird and crown.


Button Alley

Button Alley

Dig I.5

After the morning hunt on the new P(III), I spent a short section of the afternoon on P(I) with the farmer’s son, who was keen to try detecting. We only searched for just under an hour, but I turned up a grotty, illegible Roman, and then he turned up a lovely Roman with the bust on the obverse perfectly visible. He was thrilled; imagine finding Roman on your first day out! I’m certain he’s hooked for good on the hobby now. It was a fine afternoon, and the farmer even surprised me with a jar of homemade honey.

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My grotty Roman

My grotty Roman

Two More Digs

15 Feb
Photo © Gabriel Schenk

Photo © Gabriel Schenk

Dig on Friend’s P

A friend of mine in the detecting community uses ‘P’ as an abbreviation for ‘permission’. On the morning of Thursday the 12th, he invited me to his P to search. It was mainly overgrown pasture, with a couple of stolid Shire horses in residence, lazily cropping at the grasses. We detected for a couple of hours, but all I managed to turn up was £3.54 in modern clad coinage.

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I also found a feather (I think from a female peafowl, as there were peacocks about), which I want to keep in the hatband of the replacement kapelusz goralski I have ordered.

Because all the coins were modern, I decided to attempt a cleaning that I heard about on youtube using vinegar and salt. You’re meant to keep copper coins separate from other metals lest they all turn a pinkish colour, but although I obeyed this advice, the experiment wasn’t entirely successful. I left the coins in the solution overnight (it was similar to dyeing Easter eggs I thought, in appearance and smell), and in the morning the results looked like this:

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The dig was also of note for my use of new kit: an Evolution Pro Spade, which I customised with midnight blue powder coating and a D handle; wireless headphones for the AT Pro; and the Detecting Buddy Easy Swing, a detecting sling I wanted to try out in advance of the arrival of a new, massive NEL coil from the Ukraine, which I’ve ordered to really punch down into the pasture on my P. I am delighted to report that all of the new kit worked brilliantly. With the Easy Swing my detector weighed next to nothing, and the spade sliced through thick mud like a warm knife through butter. Best of all were the wireless headphones, attached via a receiver dongle to the Garrett headphone adapter. For the first time I didn’t feel as though the phones were being yanked off my head when I lowered the detector to retrieve a target. Here’s a picture of the receiver, mounted beneath the arm cup (and covered with a sandwich bag to keep out the wet):


Dig II.2

Today I took Gabriel and his cousin Toby with me to explore a field on my second permission. The mud soon caked our boots, and conditions on the field were incredibly quiet, but Gabriel captured some lovely pictures (all credits are his below, except for finds close-ups). We found a handful of shooting brasses, and three flat buttons, but precious little else (and all of that modern). We finished with a hearty pub lunch nearby.

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Two Digs

8 Feb

On Tuesday the 3rd February, I went out briefly on my second permission (officially Dig II.1) to search some earth disturbed by an earthmover. I only detected for about an hour and a half, and I found an old buckle but nothing else of note.


Today I went on a Blues dig in Cumnor. More buckles, and I tried out the Go Detect iPhone app for the first time. It’s brilliant! It runs GPS in the phone’s background during your hunt, and by pressing a button you can log and photograph each find as you dig it. At the end of the day you have a map of your hunt and an album of the objects found, as well as precise coordinates for each…amazing! I also found a metal ring, too small to be a bangle, that looks as if it has a pattern on the outer surface. The pattern looks quite uniform, however, suggesting factory rather than hand production.

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New Permissions!

3 Feb
The land in this photo is not my permission!

The land in this photo is not my permission!

I’ve had responses from four more letters over the past couple of days. One was a no that was nevertheless kind enough to send back my tearsheet. The other three were yesses of various kinds: one woman said she’d had the detecting clubs on and was sure there was nothing left to find on her land, but that she herself would be interested in an overview of the hobby; a second farmer told me over the phone that I could search two of his farms, though so far we haven’t been able to meet up; and the third met with me today and took me on a tour of his bountiful land. There are some fields I am keen to try out before winter planting — I just need to get some work done on the thesis before I can get back out there!