Tag Archives: musket ball

Stagsden II (April 14th, 2013)

16 Apr

20130415_201429I dreamed of days like this when I started out in the hobby a couple of months back: my whole immediate family (apart from Tam and Mike, unfortunately) together hunting for treasure. We attended a Weekend Warriors dig in Stagsden, Bedfordshire. It was a significant day for a couple of reasons. It was my mom’s first hunt, and it was the first warm weather we’d had in weeks.

The fields we searched had been searched numerous times in the past, but we still managed to turn up some interesting finds. My dad found a 1930s Efficient Lighter, a small caliber musket ball, and a mostly whole medieval horseshoe (in fairness, despite its coarse shape, I didn’t suspect the horseshoe’s age; I tossed it in with the rubbish while cleaning out my finds pouch post dig, only to dig it up again — out from among spaghetti, and worse things — once my parents noticed a similar six-holed shoe on display at the Ashmolean Museum).

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I turned up a couple of flat buttons, one of which was a Standard Treble Gilt button (c. 1825-1865) in quite good shape, two modern 5p coins (!), a Dolce and Gabbana belt retention buckle, as well as a Krauwinckel jetton (a counting token, probably from Nuremberg c. 17th century). Daria found loads of iron with her detector, including a significant chunk of horseshoe and some shoeing nails of unknown age. Aga found a belt buckle (or harness buckle) that we still need to date. Even Hannah found something, a modern 20p which may or may not have been salted into the ground by a helpful parent.

Kurt and Kat found a mini musket ball also, but Kurt tossed it away in the half-jocular expectation that it was a lead fishing weight. He is ready to find a coin. This time around, we were well prepared with Wellies and a hearty lunch, so the day was a great success despite the picked-over fields.

(hours detecting: 7).

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First Dig with Oxford Blues MDC

7 Apr

I had hoped to post this before midnight but didn’t quite make it, so when I write ‘today’, I am actually referring to yesterday, the 7th of April. It was the day of my first dig with the Oxford Blues Metal Detecting Club, on two fields in stubble at a place called Radley, about two miles southwest of Oxford.

My dad came with me as a guest to experience his first metal detecting trip. We only had about two and a half hours, as we had planned a trip to Bath later in the day, but we made the most of the restricted schedule. We took turns detecting and digging, and once the detectorist called out a target, we switched roles, whether the find was rubbish or not.

Within about a half hour, I found my first coin ever. I was sure it was a ‘hammy’, a hammered coin, but one of the old timers said that due to its thickness, it was probably a jetton — a token circulated as money in times of currency shortage. The coin/jetton is so corroded that no image or legend is visible on either side, so I’m not sure that I’ll be able to identify it. Still, a thrilling find.

Soon thereafter, my dad turned up a small-bore lead musket ball. If he hadn’t been hooked on the hobby before then, I’m quite certain that did it. In fact, we were so excited about our finds that we brought Kurt back with us for an additional hour (like children begging for a final two minutes of playtime). We only found aluminium in the last phase, but we did get to see a beautifully preserved Saxon silver penny that another detectorist turned up in the field.

It is remarkable to encounter history in this way — to think, for example, of the fellow who must have dropped the jetton from a pocket several hundred years ago, or the farmer (or soldier!) who fired the ball. Our experiences definitely inflected the trip to Bath, where several hundred Roman coins are on display in the Roman baths museum. During the museum visit, I tended to think more about the metalsmiths, the merchants, the buyers behind the coins than about the objects themselves (though to be honest, some of them were of silver or gold, and dead pretty)…

(hours detecting: 3)