Tag Archives: coins

I.3: Aliases and More Coins

31 Jan

Part I: On Coins &c. 
Yesterday I was back for a brief (3.5-hour) hunt on the permission. There was some beautiful afternoon sunshine, and I managed to turn up coins at the rate of about one per hour. The first showed up in my second hole after only five minutes on site. However, they had all had it and were nearly blank. The other interesting find was a piece of harness kit, stamped with ‘[J] Dewey / Harness Maker / Eynsham’, which pleased me because my friend Gabriel (a friend of the blog) lives in Eynsham Village.



Can you find the coin in this pic?

Can you find the coin in this pic?


Here’s a live recovery of one of the coins I found:

Part II: On Aliases

I’ve been thinking about nicknames lately, since most serious treasure hunters have some kind of alias — ‘Coyote Bill’ or something in that vein. For quite awhile I liked ‘Deseret Kid’, because it resonates with home, and it’s the moniker of the protagonist of my novel-in-progress, but ‘Kid’ doesn’t really work with a guy my age. ‘Will o’ the Green’ is another name I liked; it’s the name of the chief outlaw in Sherwood before Robin’s time, and it evokes my love of the forest as well as alludes cannily to my permissions. ‘Will o’ the Wood’ was another thought, as was ‘[….] Will’, with the placename of my permission in the square brackets. I still like the latter idea, but it would announce to the world the location of my permission, which is meant to remain between the landowner and me.

During a text conversation today, quite out of the blue, my detecting buddy started chatting about nicknames. He mentioned that he didn’t have one yet, and I asked him whether they ought to be bestowed or self-selected. I suppose by way of suggesting that they be bestowed, he replied that I should be called ‘Will o’ the Wisp’; I think he was joking, but I immediately liked the name, given that I study English magic and folklore. Later in the day he sent me this image of a Magic card:

WillotheWispIt does sound a bit like ‘Will o’ the Green’. My friend said the nickname was due to the will o’ the wisp’s association with bogs, sinks, and swamps (I think the muddy conditions the day before yesterday made an impression on him). Anyway, perhaps I’ll cultivate the name. I hope it sticks.


I.1: First Dig on the First Permission

28 Jan

I decided I just couldn’t wait to get out on the fields now available to me. I set out to find the ruins of a building which the landowner described to me when we met yesterday. It dates from the early 17c., and now only a few remaining stone walls lie mouldering in the brambles on his land. I found the spot easily enough, but it was nigh unsearchable: a combination of ferrous trash from the ruined building and ‘green waste’ on the surrounding field made searching an audio-maze of beeps and bops from my detector. Green waste is a fertiliser of sorts made from notionally biodegradable waste products but often also materials from the breaking up of old sheds and structures — it contains a lot of wood pulp but also bits of aluminium, nails, brick, you name it. It usually spells death to the effectiveness of metal detecting, as each sweep of the coil brings with it a cacophony of chirps and whirrs.

Today’s conditions were complicated by intermittent hail and the awful sort of squelchy, viscous mud that makes your feet two times their usual size in minutes. Still I managed to turn up four coins around the thicket that hid the building’s foundations; they are in pretty bad shape but look like Victorian copper-alloys. I also found a French 10-centimes coin from 1901 lying on the surface. Buckles, bits of ironmongery, a floral device, an Army Service Corps badge, and an interesting cylindrical object that looks like a pendant or a vial stopper rounded out the day. To thank the landowner for his kindness, I plan to prepare a display case of these objects along with little placards interpreting their provenance.

I also found lots of clay pipestems and bowls on the surface, as here.

I also found lots of clay pipestems and bowls on the surface, as here.

IMG_9955 IMG_9957

Can anyone help identify this coin? It has a faintly discernible left-facing bust with a laurel crown.

Can anyone help identify this coin? It has a faintly discernible left-facing bust with a laurel crown.

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Perhaps a curtain rail support?

Perhaps a curtain rail support?

Despite the tough going, it was obvious that this permission holds many secrets in its soil. I hope to return tomorrow to see what else I can turn up.

Surfmaster P.I. Dual-Field on Jones Beach (June 6th)

7 Jun

On the night of the 5th I flew into New York for the summer. The next morning I visited Kurt’s place where several packages awaited me. Here is one:

After setting up the Stealth 720i Sand Scoop and gathering my Mares Classic 5mm dive boots (for walking along the sandy beach without abrading my feet), my floating sunglass-retention strap, and Clive James Clynick’s pamphlet White’s Surfmaster P.I. Dual-Field: An Advanced Guide, I headed off to the beach with my sister and cousin Maddy and their little babies. On the way we stopped at Treasures Unlimited in Bellmore, the detecting shop of famed treasure hunter Mike McMeekin (I’ll try to get a picture with him next time I go into the shop).

I’d ordered a pulse induction detector from Mike while still in England (the White’s Dual-Field), and he helped me get it set up and ready to go, and gave me plenty of helpful advice. Then it was off to Jones Beach to try out the new machine. P.I. machines don’t discriminate, pinging on all targets, but they go much deeper and aren’t bothered by salt water.

I hunted for an hour and half and found only bottle caps, bobby pins, and a twist tie from a bread bag. This last I found maybe sixteen inches deep! Right before returning to the girls and the kids to leave, I found a drop spot with four targets, the change pictured below. Though it was only 70 cents, it changed the feeling of the hunt and left me excited to take the Surfmaster P.I. out again soon.

A future treasure hunter:

photo 3

My finds:

photo 2

New detector, same old TH’er:photo 1


Wet, Muddy Day in Essex (Maldon and West Mersea)

18 Mar

We started off detecting on a bit of Crown Foreshore in Maldon. Spirits were high, but so was the mud — almost four feet deep in places. I nearly lost my wellies twice in the first moments.

IMG_9360Hannah at Maldon IMG_9362 IMG_9363

After five minutes spent fighting the mud in Maldon, we decided to move on for some beach digging at (relatively) nearby Mersea Island. It was very near high tide, so conditions weren’t optimal, but Aga got to try her first detecting. Kathleen had the most consistent success, turning in three modern coins with her Ace 250.

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Kat’s lucky trio:


Aga’s first ‘find’, a bit of aluminium:


This was all that West Mersea gave up today: IMG_0040

I was intrigued by this object. I’m not sure whether it is sedimentary rock scored by some invertebrate, or perhaps a decorated bit of bone. Can anyone identify it?IMG_0042