4 April 2015, Cumnor (and Reedy & Noah)
I joined an OBMDC dig today on Cumnor pastureland, although I was (and remain) skeptical of the fecundity of the site. It’s not that no archaeology is to be found there, but rather that clubs have been on the land for so many years that it has mainly been picked over. The farmer himself told me that nobody finds much.
Using the techniques gleaned from Gary’s tips about detecting deep signals, I chased a few phantom targets, managing to turn up a toasted Roman nummus (as far as I know, the only one found on the day).
The aluminum button in the pic above had my heart racing, as it looked entirely like silver in the hole. I also found a bit of beaten-up thimble, part of a fibula brooch (?), a detailed lead strip, and a button head (see pic above).
When I left the dig, I went straight to my P, as I was itching to find something. I guess I’ve been spoiled by the richness of my sites over the last couple of weeks. I had an appointment in the afternoon, so I only had about forty-five minutes to detect; I figured the easiest spot would be on Reedy. All I found was a treacherous gold-looking button with a costume jewel set in it; some other buttons; and a couple of knackered coins.
In short order I found various bits of lead, including a couple of bag seals (one engraved with ‘DiXON’), a weight, and a token (see pic below). I also found some sort of copper plate, some bits of buckle, medieval pins, a casket key, a bit of coin, and a penny (?), badly beaten but with the date, 1701, and the legend ‘GUILLEL[…]’ visible; William III, therefore.
This lead token or tally was interesting, as it was the third I’ve found on Noah (I found two on 2 April; one of them was folded in half).
All in all, it was a successful day. I didn’t have the spectacular find I obsessively sought, but I did uncover some nice artefacts, and I confirmed that Noah is and will be a field of importance for its medieval provenance.
6 April 2015, Sir Thomas and Oscar Wilde
Spent the day taking in the spring sunshine with a friend: picnicking, tramping through the fields, and of course, detecting. I had hoped to replicate recent success in ‘Roman Alley’, showing off the capabilities of the Deus, but signals were few and far between there. I’m not sure whether my settings were poor, or whether I’ve picked clean most of the easy Roman targets. It was two hours before I found one grotty nummus (outlines of the portrait barely visible) in a corner of the field I hadn’t searched earlier. I kept two nails because of their location on the Roman field, along with a lead weight with a suspension loop, a large bag seal (or possibly a token), some buttons, and a fragment of a silver coin with no extant image.
Otherwise I merely found a bit of a badge, some buttons, leaden lumps, a massive spike (which I also kept due to its find location) and a large (pre-decimal penny sized) silver-plated coin or cap. There is no portrait or image visible on it, but here is a video showing its finding:
I also spent about twenty minutes digging for a hoard; got to the point of believing I had found one. I was shaking and feeling giddy, as even the Deus audio-discrim pinpoint feature was whining upwards as I approached the bottom of the hole with the coil. In the end, though, it turn out to be a skein of rusted barbed wire buried about two feet down. Argh!
7 April 2015, Noah
I craved a break from thesis matters, so I rushed off at 5:30 pm for a late-evening hunt on Noah. I searched for almost four hours, until after dark, but my detector wasn’t working properly. From the moment I stepped on the field it was on the fritz, spitting and popping, and nothing I changed, frequency, sensitivity, programme, made any difference. It was maddening to feel that I’d regressed in my ability with the Deus, but no matter how I worked at it, the machine was only finding things on the soil surface. The only recognisable signals gave the rapid double beep of objects lying directly beneath the coil and shallow. As I walked and fiddled with the remote control, I composed complaint emails in my head to XP, and query emails to various metal detecting fora to request help. How would I frame the issue though? I had no idea what was wrong.
It wasn’t until I’d returned home and was lying in bed with the Deus manual (stimulating bedside reading, I know) that I recognised my error — in fact, this was the only time in my life that the ‘Troubleshooting’ section of a manual has actually resolved a concern: I’d committed the cardinal error with the Deus and turned it on near metal. I’d rested the detector on a metal gate while I fiddled with the headphones and turned the unit on. Doing so doesn’t harm the detector, but it messes with the calibration for that session and causes it to function improperly. It was amazing that it had managed to find anything at all. The solution would have been the IT Crowd one: turn it off and turn it on again.
Still, it was amazing what I found at or very near the surface: some massive musket balls; various old-looking plates with holes in them (badges of some kind?); the obligatory buttons; and my first Roman brooch (I believe), with its pin still in place (update: Not a Roman brooch; thanks to Allectus from the MDF, this has been identified as a medieval candle holder, with the slots on the lug allowing the candle cup to be fixed in various positions. Other examples include this from the PAS, and a complete one here):
I also found this object, which looks for all the world like the buckle to a small modern watch. It probably is just that, but it looks so old. I’ll definitely set it aside until I’ve determined its identity for certain (Update from muddy fingers off of Gary’s forum: medieval, probably from a spur):
I’m not sure whether this lattice-form object is a strap end, but it seems clearly medieval (update from Allectus off of MDF: it’s a late-Saxon stirrup-strap mount, like this one):
And finally I found this small token, which has the same six-petalled floral image on the obverse (reverse?) as this larger lead token, found elsewhere in the same medieval field last week. Strangely, the reverse of the larger petalled token bears a ‘GH’
while the smaller floral token (and this one, found just the other day on 4 April) have the same boxed image on the reverse. The larger token in the image below has a wagon wheel on the obverse, however, rather than a flower.
Not bad really for a hunt that went until after dark with a malfunctioning detector (or rather, detectorist). If this is lying on the surface in Noah, imagine what lurks below.