Tag Archives: Byrthnoth
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Maldon III (April 11th, 2013)

16 Apr

I thought I had finally cracked the code on the treasures surely lying beneath Chelmer mud in Maldon. The answer? Chest waders and snowshoes, which would allow me to dash atop the mud like a Sandpiper.

Kurt had to bow out of the expedition, and I like to think that it was because of his anniversary, and not that he’d been on the two prior trips. In the event, even my dad and I weren’t sure that we wanted to go; we stayed up until 1.30 am, and to catch low spring tide, we’d need to leave Oxford at 4. My dad was the one who suggested we see it through, however.

We arrived to rain, and after choking down a McDonald’s breakfast, we suited up. I had dreamed of using a bucket and classifier to dredge the silt and mud beneath Fullbridge — a Bodleian book on the Blackwater Estuary noted that the site of the bridge was a ford in pre-Roman days — and this time, dressed as we were, we made it all the way down there. Unfortunately, I quickly determined that the shopping cart jutting up from the sludge probably wasn’t of Roman origin. The mud was simply too deep. A backhoe could probably unearth generations of treasure, but I would have to let it go.

We did make lots of eyes-only modern coinage finds. My dad even found a pound coin. We ended up with 1.15 GBP and some corroded iron spikes. We were glad to have taken the journey together, but it appears that Byrthnoth’s ghost will be keeping Maldon’s treasure for awhile yet.

Oh, and the snowshoes? Great it you’re walking along the mud. If you stop for even a moment though, they sink and become cement shoes… (hours detecting: 1.5).

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Return to Maldon

27 Mar

Armed with waders (well, one of us, at least), snowshoes, a floating sieve, and a glass-bottomed coffee can for seeing beneath the surface refraction of the river, we returned to Maldon to make another attempt at the foreshore’s secrets.

Low (spring) tide was at 6.33 am, so we had to get quite an early start. There were other difficulties, too, including a broken snowshoe, and our inability to work together as only one of us could dare the mud.

On the positive side, I began to sort out the signals the AT PRO was giving me in some very challenging ground (tidal water with plenty of junk iron). There were little rivulet intake streams cutting into the profound drifts of mud on their way to join the river; in periods of storm these must become more pronounced to drain adjacent inland areas, and they seemed likely spots for metal/coinage losses. In a couple of these I did find modern coins, and I also found an old spike of metal, probably lead.

After the tide came in, setting our bucket adrift and almost carrying it off, Kurt and I drove past the stature of the Saxon warrior Byrthnoth, who defended Maldon (unsuccessfully) from Danish Viking raiders in 991. Like the raiders, I suspect we will return to the river at some point, better armed and clad for its perils…