Archive | March, 2015

History Box and a Long Circuit Hunt

10 Mar

Yesterday I gave my farmer friend a box I’d prepared to hold the objects we find on his farm. I thought having it might present a nice way to interpret local history for family and guests, and practically it was a way for me to say thank you for his generosity in allowing me to metal detect on his land. It looks like this (with the name of the farm redacted for obvious reasons):

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Today (9 March) I made a long circuit at a fairly brisk pace, totalling about two miles. I started off on Reedy, and quickly found an eyes-only surface George V penny (1930).

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The field gave up another coin, much older, but too beat up to read. Then I crossed into Falstaff. Heading up the eastern margin of the field I found a penny-size coin with a bust I couldn’t make out, possibly Georgian. IMG_0691

About halfway up the east side I made the strangest find of the day. A tiny aluminium tag which reads: ‘BRIT. MUSEUM / LONDON S.W. 7 / VX12335’. I confess I did a bit of a circle with the detector to see if the tag had serendipitously fallen from an antiquity stolen from the British Museum and buried nearby. Alas, I found nothing else, but I will follow up with the museum to see if they can identify the purpose of the tag or its number.

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I found a (1983) pound coin soon thereafter, and at the top of Falstaff I found a buckle whose shape looks to be early modern or even medieval, but whose finish belies this. It will be an interesting one to ID.

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From there I crossed onto Sir Thomas, a field I hadn’t yet searched. It had been freshly ploughed and looked promising. In fact away far off I could see the tractor finishing the next field, with a flock of gulls in its wake descending no doubt on the newly harrowed fat worms. I hadn’t been on Sir Thomas long when I turned up a coin — possibly a Roman nummus but too abraded to be certain.FullSizeRender_2

About halfway down the field I found a large lead object, which I think is a spindle whorl.FullSizeRender

I walked across (but found nothing in) a field I call Peter Quince, and then I finished off the day on Ulmo. As I crossed back to the car, Ulmo gave up a fairly worn Georgian coin, possibly a penny.

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A nice hunt and a nice walk, even if the finds didn’t feature a knockout object like I’ve had the last couple of days.

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First Hammy Ever!

7 Mar

I started off on Ulmo with the intention of proceeding to Falstaff after finding my first coin. This proved more difficult than I’d anticipated. The field had dried out quite a bit thanks to the lack of rain over the last few days, but for the first time, Ulmo failed to give up Roman. I was seventy minutes into the hunt before I found my first coin, an Edward VII farthing (1906).

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Some time later, still on Ulmo, I found my second Edwardian coin of the day, this one a penny (1904). Unfortunately, the penny later slipped out of my finds pouch — probably while I was sat taking a rest — and was lost. It was a bitter lesson, though I didn’t find out that it was missing until the end of the day’s hunt.

After about two and a half hours on the field, I got a warbling tone whose number on the VDI nevertheless held steady at 60. I dug the signal and about four inches down found my first-ever silver hammered, in beautiful condition. I cleaned it reverently, or as reverent as one can be with spit, and the bearded face of a medieval king shone at me.

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I tweeted out a request for ID assistance, and The Searcher magazine boosted my signal. Within minutes someone had ID’ed the coin as a Henry III voided longcross penny (1240s). This will definitely be one to record with the FLO!

Other bits and bobs from the hunt:

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Late Afternoon Hunt on Reedy and Falstaff

6 Mar

I had some work to catch up on, so I wasn’t able to get out today until the afternoon. I started off on a field I call Reedy Crown, where I found a profusion of buttons from various eras and then finally a George V ha’penny (1918) in pretty good shape.

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Crossing over to a massive field called Falstaff, on the verge between the fields I found this curious charm pin, eyes-only. The charms are plastic, so it must be a piece of costume jewellery.

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Falstaff is rocky and less cultivated than the other fields and started off quiet. Midway up the field, though, I found a small hammered (I think, because whisper-thin) coin on the surface. It’s quite difficult to make out, though I can descry ‘REX’ on the obverse along with crowned arms. The crown may just be visible in this pic.

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I found a strange copper cap and a thimble also, and finally after sunset and just as I was leaving the field, I found a possible Roman or even a Celtic coin. It is the size of a grotty Roman nummus, but the image on the reverse looks different to me (I’m no expert, obviously, and I’m hoping someone can help me identify it).

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Also on Falstaff I uncovered a bronze ring, very like my first ever find:

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Two Hunts on Ulmo

6 Mar

In order to talk more specifically about fields on my P, I’ve decided to give them nicknames. I’ve been concentrating recently on a field I’ve called Ulmo. It’s where I took the landowner’s son when he found his Roman (apparently a family of Constantine nummus circa 340 A.D.). On two consecutive hunts (three if you count the one with the farmer’s son), Ulmo has given up Roman. The third day this was a very nice coin with victory on the reverse.

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March 2, 2015

The great find of the day (besides a grotty Roman) was my first Cartwheel penny, so called because of the thick rim around the periphery of the coin. They are massive and quite rare, from the reign of George III. They were produced for three years, but they all bear the mint year 1797. I’ve put the coin delicately into some olive oil to see if some of the encrustations can be teased away without damaging it.

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Cartwheel Penny

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Cartwheel Penny

Cartwheel Penny

March 3, 2015

For this hunt I returned to Ulmo and fields adjacent. In my first hole I dug up the Roman pictured above. Anni thinks it is likely a local contemporary copy, because the victory on the reverse is facing the wrong way. This would make the coin quite rare and potentially valuable. It is currently being recorded for the PAS. Other finds included musket balls (up to a frightening caliber) and my first crotal bell, which happened to be complete. On a field I’ve called Oscar Wilde, I found a little silver-looking (but probably not silver) bow pin, as well as a George V penny (1918) in reasonable nick. Oh, and a fork…

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On Wednesday the Ashmolean Museum held their monthly find identification service. I invited my landowner to come along with me and bring the coin his son had found. The event is a great resource, with Anni Byard and three or four other archaeologists and numismatists on hand at a long table to meet with members of the public and ID finds. There is also the possibility to leave finds with the team for recording. I was very pleased that my farmer friend agreed to do so. The whole thing is like something out of Antiques Roadshow, with four lamps in a row to provide extra light, and the row of experts and the public bent toward each other, heads down over the objects under consideration. I turned twelve objects over to Anni for recording, though some are no doubt modern red herrings. Afterward, the farmer took me out to lunch at a local Thai restaurant. A lovely day all round.

Update: The bow pin found on Oscar Wilde has a lion silver hallmark on the back, so it may indeed be silver after all!