American Summer and English Autumn

16 Oct

I spent the summer with my siblings on Long Island, where I wanted to improve on last year’s lacklustre beach detecting results. To do so, I purchased a Minelab Excalibur II multi-freq detector and a chest harness for the machine; the Excal II is a heavy beast but it has a solid reputation on wet sand and in the surf.

I only took it out once, during a camping trip with my family while my parents were visiting. My dad had just expressed skepticism that anyone ever found anything of note on the beach when we were approached by a distressed and crying woman who related that she’d lost her wedding band and engagement ring. My dad and I each searched the general area she indicated, and there were smiles all round as we recovered both rings. Minelab retweeted my pics of the overjoyed couple; good advertising for them!

IMG_7195 IMG_7194

I sold the Excal II after that one use. I loved it, but I didn’t have the time to spend on the beach. Frustratingly, I also lost my 300£ Deus backphones in a park near my sister’s place, so the summer’s detecting wasn’t all it might have been.

Soon, though, I was back in Blighty. During my first dig with the OBMDC lads and lasses in Fritwell, I found a grotty Roman, as well as a nice gilt flat button and some medieval and post-med buckles.

FullSizeRender IMG_7021 IMG_7024 FullSizeRender_1

The next week, along with my friend Gez, I attended my first rally, a small Rotary affair in the Chiltern Hills involving several clubs from the Southeast. The surroundings were lovely and it was nice having a food tent onsite, but stalks were thick on the ground, and I found nothing of note.

Soon after returning to the UK, I was hired as an archaeologist by MOLA and applied for membership of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. Unlike last year when I worked as a site assistant in Oxfordshire, this time I am a full field archaeologist on an urban Roman/medieval site, which has meant lots of on-the-job learning.

IMG_7053 IMG_7048

Excavating a post-medieval well/cesspit, and finding a broken chamberpot in the fill:

IMG_7125 IMG_7130 IMG_7123 IMG_7124 IMG_7129 IMG_7145

My first excavation, a wattled pit, which I dug with a co-worker, Matt:

IMG_7076

Because our dig site is only about 50 meters from the Thames, I pop down on lunch breaks whenever I have the opportunity. During my first week with MOLA, I found a Charles I twopence on Thursday, and a silver (Henry III?) penny the next day.

Mudlarking at Southbank in front of the Globe Theatre:

IMG_7127 IMG_7132 FullSizeRender_1 FullSizeRender

The silver penny, along with an Indian coin, a modern twopence, and a bit of iron pyrite:

IMG_7150 IMG_7151

The good luck continued at the excavation site near St Paul’s, where I surprised my coworkers by troweling up this Roman from a patch of plastered Roman concrete called opus signinum:

IMG_7082 IMG_7078

Bolstered by my recent success on the Southbank foreshore, I set up a meeting with Ian Smith, Chairman of the Society of Thames Mudlarks, to ask about induction into the society. I have had a general foreshore permit for three years, and I am keen to apply to be one of about sixty real mudlarks. We met on a Saturday near Queenhithe, and he was kind to allow me take a picture of the hole he was digging with a mate (as mudlarks, they are allowed to do so).

IMG_7296

On Sunday the 27th September, I attended at OBMDC dig at Scotsgrove, near Thame. There were many Romans found on the field, upwards of thirty I think, and I had mine as well.

FullSizeRender_1

FullSizeRender

Afterwards, I met with my friend Gabriel to help out with his cousin’s short sci-fi film featuring metal detecting:

IMG_7188

A picture on the reverse of one of my single context sheets from our excavation site. It shows a brick privy or soakaway in rough profile and bird’s-eye view.

FullSizeRender

Pat C., one of my fellow archaeologists, is a sometime member of the Society of Thames Mudlarks. After work he showed me some of his favourite spots to lark and we shared some riverside libations. I found a handful of clad coins; Pat found some bag seals and the forked end of a push pole, which would have been used to keep boats off of the wall and bridge piers. It was clad in iron, and it had the initials of the probable former owner carved in it, ‘H H’.

IMG_7366

IMG_7364

He also turned up (and gave to me) half of an 18th c. pipe-clay wig curler (upper left to the right of the pipe bowl). This is how a gentleman in the 1700s would have kept his elaborate wig looking fresh.


IMG_7369

This week while excavating a pit, I found a wooden box, possibly once used for the storage of valuables, though later it was backfilled with food waste and ultimately was buried. In the box I found 17 lead discs or flans. One of them was stamped with the shortcross design associated with medieval silver pennies, indicating that the lead was used either for practice die strikes in a minting operation, or else somehow for counterfeiting. I also found a quantity of waste lead. I may have surprised my colleagues by making the shortcross ID, which I wouldn’t have been able to do without my detecting and larking experience.

IMG_7480 IMG_7479 IMG_7483 FullSizeRender_2

Wooden planks at the base of the box where I discovered the minting supplies.

FullSizeRender_1 FullSizeRender

Advertisements

3 Responses to “American Summer and English Autumn”

  1. icarus4160 October 16, 2015 at 7:05 pm #

    A great account Will……………. keep em coming !! Please don’t be offended but, shouldn’t it read (wood clad in iron) !! ………….a brilliant read nevertheless. I bet that was a blow when you lost your headphones, not cheap, and useless to anyone unless they’ve got a Deus.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • antiphonus October 16, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

      Ah, good catch, Gez! Darn homonyms! Glad you liked the post. It has been a busy summer and fall!

  2. Mudgod January 9, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    Hi Will………….E-mailed you a couple of times matey but heard nowt back……The iron snakes tongue is a boat quant but the guy with the beer is defo not a mudlark ??? How you going ??? Blogs very good…….Hows your new job at the museum all going good ???

    See your still finding things on the thames as you seem to have the eye now……Top finds too as i can see.

    Give me a shout when free as it would be good to catch up and have a lark…………HAPPY NEW YEAR MATEY…………MUDGOD.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: