Longest (and Most Successful) Hunt

19 Mar

18 March 2015

As I have a significant thesis milestone coming up at the end of the month, I won’t be able to get out as much as I’d like. Therefore I wanted yesterday’s hunt to be special: I wanted to spend a lot of time in the field and find at least one object of historical significance.

I set off at eight am through a dense fog, which didn’t lift until around ten. For the first couple of hours I could only see the ground at my feet; it felt like I was detecting in a cloud. I started off by traversing Peter Quince to reach Falstaff. The only thing I found along the way was a tiny buckle. On Falstaff I turned up my first real find of the day, a George V penny (1919):

I moved onto Sir Thomas, a field that was to play the central role in the success of the day’s hunt, but all I found after twenty minutes of swinging was a lead bag seal, pressed with an ‘E’ on one side and ‘BOWLEYS’ on the other.

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Hankering to try something new, I walked across a newly planted field and made my way to some pasture near the farmhouse. There under a lone, winter-barren tree, I ate my lunch in the sunshine.

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After lunch I searched along the pasture land for a quarter of an hour. I found another George V penny (1914),

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as well as a ten ‘New’ pence piece (1979), one of the post-decimal but thicker ones.

It was now edging towards two o’clock, and as I had been detecting, digging, and walking since eight, my spirits were beginning to flag. Still, I decided to press on; your detecting luck can change in an instant, and one great find changes the whole feel of a day (also, as my friend Gerry says, even when detecting is muddy, cold, and fruitless, it’s still ‘good, clean fun’). I turned back to Sir Thomas, knowing that I’d found that spectacular silver antonianus there just two days before.

After awhile I found a damaged buckle, possibly medieval (similar to this one, but without the finish):

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In a bid at self-psychologising, I tried to tell myself that this, at least, was a fascinating find — that this is what I’d spent six and half hours searching for. But the attempt didn’t take. I moved out across the field again, willing a spring into my legs despite my badly pulled groin (I think from crossing a fence days earlier). Not long later I found a cut or broken piece of coin, maybe with some silver content, too damaged to see anything on it. Again I told myself that this was more like it. Except it wasn’t. I thought about returning to the car and trying to get home before close-of-business traffic.

But then I found a Roman coin! Sure, it was a small and illegible nummus, but it was definitely Roman, something for the eventual collection I hope to turn over to a local museum.

As it turns out, that was just the beginning. As a fisherman, frustrated for hours, might hit a honey hole and begin landing fish after fish, I was suddenly on top of Romans. I breathed an actual sigh of relief as I pulled this antonianus (of Allectus?) out of the soil:

Five minutes later and just ten meters away, I got a cracking signal reading 81 on my AT Pro’s VDI. 81 almost always means aluminum can — I mean, it has ALWAYS meant that for me. But for some reason, probably the new-found buoyancy at digging the antonianus — I decided to take a shot. And out popped a coin with a beautiful glowing-green patina that felt as heavy and thick as a skipping stone in my hand. Another Roman, and so huge! I didn’t know what it was, but I suspected a follis or sestertius (it turns out it was a sestertius, probably of either Marcus Aurelius or Trajan).

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Obverse of Anotonianus of Allectus

Reverse of Antonianus of Allectus

Reverse of Antonianus of Allectus

While I was talking to my family via Whatsapp to tell them about the finds, I found another nummus. Four Romans! The tally finished as I recrossed the field after picking up my jacket, which I’d abandoned in the afternoon warmth: a tiny minim, the smallest Roman denomination. Later, I thought the five Romans looked quite nice ranged from largest to smallest:

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I didn’t get onto the Romans until after 3:30 pm, at which point I’d been detecting for seven and a half hours! Persistence definitely paid off, and it was a worthy hunt to lead into the (reluctant) time off from the hobby.

I’ve been noticing lately that I average about a coin an hour. Strangely, this ratio seems to hold regardless of the type of coin or the terrain. And it was true of yesterday as well: I hunted almost exactly ten hours, and I finished the day with a sestertius, an antonianus, two nummi, a minim (five Romans altogether); two George V pennies; a modern 10p; a cut, unidentifiable hammered coin or jeton; and a Victorian ha’penny of 1901, the year she passed. I found this near the Roman zone, just after finding the second nummus.

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All in all a tiring — at times frustrating — but amazing day, arguably my most successful ever.

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UPDATE: Silver!

I cleaned the smooth and knackered half-coin I found yesterday and did the ad hoc silver test (spit in tinfoil which reacts to the tarnish)…turns out it is silver! So I had a silver coin (what was left of one) yesterday as well.

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2 Responses to “Longest (and Most Successful) Hunt”

  1. 1billbadger March 19, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

    this is awesome stuff
    i agree the greatest hobby ever

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Deus Romanorum | Exchequer of Words - April 1, 2015

    […] went back to the spot on Sir Thomas that produced the five Romans on the 18th of March. I’d gone over the central section reasonably well with the AT Pro, and I wanted to see […]

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