Tag Archives: Roman coins

April Searching

24 Apr

I’m going to include a pic of my new(ish) finds pouch here, since I forgot to do so earlier. Detecting Goodies sewed it for me, and even stitched an image of my choice on the front (obvious what that choice was):

IMG_0494

I like the pouch a lot looks-wise, but I’ve found it has some issues; the velcro on the flap isn’t big enough, so it often pops open. I’ve gone to the standard Minelab finds pouch myself, but I’ve attached this one to a secondary belt for guests (Dad?)…

April has been a slow month so far, as most fields are under growing crops, and I’ve needed to concentrate on my thesis. I got out for an evening hunt on

11 April 2015, Noah

and found another bent lead trade token and some unidentified bits, as well as a spectacular giant spindle whorl:

FullSizeRender

FullSizeRender_1

FullSizeRender_2

12 April 2015, OBMDC Dig in Cumnor

We had a massive ploughed field as a club today, but not much came up. I had arguably the best outing with a milled silver sixpence of Victoria (1901), and a local trade token from an Oxford mercer, or cloth merchant (1657). The pics below show the silver out of the ground and cleaned up.

IMG_1523 IMG_1531 IMG_1532

FullSizeRender

IMG_1534

IMG_1525 IMG_1529 IMG_1530

14 April 2015, Sir Thomas

A quick evening hunt on Roman Alley turned up three Roman radiates of indifferent quality, though one has a nice reverse:

FullSizeRender (20)

19 April 2015, Northmoor OBMDC Dig

I finished a thesis draft at 5:30 am, but still tried to make a club dig at 9 to clear my head. Unfortunately I slept in and didn’t show at the dig site until 11. It was on fields near the Thames in Northmoor that the club has visited many times. People were already leaving in frustration when I arrived, and as I have a P nearby, I decided to try my luck on the latter. Shortly after I left, however, Mike H. found a gorgeous hammered silver Soldino. I searched on my P for an hour or two on pasture but only found this George III half (1799), which I gave to the landowner:

IMG_1718

IMG_1716

23 April 2015, Sir Thomas

A short hunt found me this knackered Roman radiate on Sir Thomas:

IMG_1759

24 April 2015, Ulmo

Ulmo has just been ploughed, and as most the other fields are under crops, I thought I’d take a try before it begins growing. I managed to turn up two Romans, one of which was damaged but with a nice portrait, with the other illegible. I also found a bit of medieval buckle and an as-yet unidentified object.

FullSizeRender IMG_1789

Advertisements

OBMDC Hunt in Cumnor and Several Hunts on my Permission

8 Apr

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).

Roman nummus topmost

Roman nummus topmost

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. FullSizeRender_3

I still wasn’t satisfied, so after my meeting I returned to my P, this time on the lower part of Noah, a field obviously rich in medieval and Renaissance finds. FullSizeRender_4

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.

FullSizeRender_2 FullSizeRender

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).

FullSizeRender_1

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.

FullSizeRender_1

A bit of blank silver

A bit of blank silver

We shifted to Oscar Wilde to relax in the soft grass and hopefully improve the finds rate. I did find another Roman, but it was as badly knackered as the first. FullSizeRender_3

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):

FullSizeRender_3 FullSizeRender_4

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):

FullSizeRender_3 FullSizeRender_1

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):

FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_2

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’

FullSizeRender (19)

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.

Two 'floral' tokens. The far left was found today.

Two ‘floral’ tokens. The far left was found today.

FullSizeRender_2

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.

Deus Romanorum

1 Apr

Despite a pressing deadline, I managed to get out with the Deus for a short hunt today. I wanted to try a different configuration, so this time I popped the headset control out of the backphones and into the XP ‘wristwatch’. This connects via a jack to a set of flimsy wired backphones (I ran the wire from the wristwatch up my sleeve to the phones).

Although initially skeptical, I loved this setup, as the phones weighed next to nothing (unlike the backphones with the headset control installed), and I soon forgot I was wearing them. The wristwatch allowed me easily to confirm what the audio feedback was telling me regarding the diggability of signals, so I didn’t need the remote control. The Deus was even lighter without it — really like swinging a broomstick over the field.

I went back to the spot on Sir Thomas that produced the five Romans on the 18th of March. I’d gone over the central section reasonably well with the AT Pro, and I wanted to see whether the Deus could hoover up any remaining Roman coins. It wasn’t long before I had the first one.

FullSizeRender

Another, smaller coin (a denarius?) followed just two steps later.

FullSizeRender_1

I found a third Roman after a further half hour,

IMG_1255

and finished with two minims as well, matching the best day of the AT Pro. Best of all, the minims came at a reasonable depth, greater than four or five inches, and the larger coins were even deeper. I also found some coin fragments, possibly Roman, including this one:

At times I found myself swinging the coil ‘low and slow’, like you need to do to allow the AT Pro (or most detectors) its best snapshot of the ground. But the Deus is lightning fast. It has five reactivity settings, and its level 1 setting is as fast as most other competitive detectors on the market. It is a delight to hunt with: I’m confident that if the coil passes over a target (operator error aside), the machine will find the goods. It’s like the Deus is continually channeling George Clooney from The Perfect Storm: ‘I always find the fish!’ (Continually that is, except the part where he fails to find the fish and drowns).

In addition to the Romans, I found several lead weights, including this stamped one which turned up as I traversed Peter Quince,

Stamped lead weight?

Stamped lead weight?

a pin from a Roman brooch (as ID’ed by the Ashmolean ID team this afternoon),

FullSizeRender_2

an Elizabeth II penny (1967),

FullSizeRender_2

and some buttons, including an almost complete pewter one with a lovely floral design. I couldn’t be better pleased with the Deus. I look forward to trying it out in other configurations and with the WS5 headphones, which arrived yesterday. The WS5s are going to be part of the Deus I am building for my dad’s upcoming visit, so that together we’ll have a full Deus and a Deus Lite.

FullSizeRender

Longest (and Most Successful) Hunt

19 Mar

18 March 2015

As I have a significant thesis milestone coming up at the end of the month, I won’t be able to get out as much as I’d like. Therefore I wanted yesterday’s hunt to be special: I wanted to spend a lot of time in the field and find at least one object of historical significance.

I set off at eight am through a dense fog, which didn’t lift until around ten. For the first couple of hours I could only see the ground at my feet; it felt like I was detecting in a cloud. I started off by traversing Peter Quince to reach Falstaff. The only thing I found along the way was a tiny buckle. On Falstaff I turned up my first real find of the day, a George V penny (1919):

I moved onto Sir Thomas, a field that was to play the central role in the success of the day’s hunt, but all I found after twenty minutes of swinging was a lead bag seal, pressed with an ‘E’ on one side and ‘BOWLEYS’ on the other.

FullSizeRender

Hankering to try something new, I walked across a newly planted field and made my way to some pasture near the farmhouse. There under a lone, winter-barren tree, I ate my lunch in the sunshine.

IMG_0880

After lunch I searched along the pasture land for a quarter of an hour. I found another George V penny (1914),

IMG_0881

as well as a ten ‘New’ pence piece (1979), one of the post-decimal but thicker ones.

It was now edging towards two o’clock, and as I had been detecting, digging, and walking since eight, my spirits were beginning to flag. Still, I decided to press on; your detecting luck can change in an instant, and one great find changes the whole feel of a day (also, as my friend Gerry says, even when detecting is muddy, cold, and fruitless, it’s still ‘good, clean fun’). I turned back to Sir Thomas, knowing that I’d found that spectacular silver antonianus there just two days before.

After awhile I found a damaged buckle, possibly medieval (similar to this one, but without the finish):

IMG_0886

In a bid at self-psychologising, I tried to tell myself that this, at least, was a fascinating find — that this is what I’d spent six and half hours searching for. But the attempt didn’t take. I moved out across the field again, willing a spring into my legs despite my badly pulled groin (I think from crossing a fence days earlier). Not long later I found a cut or broken piece of coin, maybe with some silver content, too damaged to see anything on it. Again I told myself that this was more like it. Except it wasn’t. I thought about returning to the car and trying to get home before close-of-business traffic.

But then I found a Roman coin! Sure, it was a small and illegible nummus, but it was definitely Roman, something for the eventual collection I hope to turn over to a local museum.

As it turns out, that was just the beginning. As a fisherman, frustrated for hours, might hit a honey hole and begin landing fish after fish, I was suddenly on top of Romans. I breathed an actual sigh of relief as I pulled this antonianus (of Allectus?) out of the soil:

Five minutes later and just ten meters away, I got a cracking signal reading 81 on my AT Pro’s VDI. 81 almost always means aluminum can — I mean, it has ALWAYS meant that for me. But for some reason, probably the new-found buoyancy at digging the antonianus — I decided to take a shot. And out popped a coin with a beautiful glowing-green patina that felt as heavy and thick as a skipping stone in my hand. Another Roman, and so huge! I didn’t know what it was, but I suspected a follis or sestertius (it turns out it was a sestertius, probably of either Marcus Aurelius or Trajan).

IMG_0895 IMG_0896

FullSizeRender_3 IMG_0915

FullSizeRender_1

Obverse of Anotonianus of Allectus

Reverse of Antonianus of Allectus

Reverse of Antonianus of Allectus

While I was talking to my family via Whatsapp to tell them about the finds, I found another nummus. Four Romans! The tally finished as I recrossed the field after picking up my jacket, which I’d abandoned in the afternoon warmth: a tiny minim, the smallest Roman denomination. Later, I thought the five Romans looked quite nice ranged from largest to smallest:

FullSizeRender_1

I didn’t get onto the Romans until after 3:30 pm, at which point I’d been detecting for seven and a half hours! Persistence definitely paid off, and it was a worthy hunt to lead into the (reluctant) time off from the hobby.

I’ve been noticing lately that I average about a coin an hour. Strangely, this ratio seems to hold regardless of the type of coin or the terrain. And it was true of yesterday as well: I hunted almost exactly ten hours, and I finished the day with a sestertius, an antonianus, two nummi, a minim (five Romans altogether); two George V pennies; a modern 10p; a cut, unidentifiable hammered coin or jeton; and a Victorian ha’penny of 1901, the year she passed. I found this near the Roman zone, just after finding the second nummus.

FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_1

All in all a tiring — at times frustrating — but amazing day, arguably my most successful ever.

FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_2

UPDATE: Silver!

I cleaned the smooth and knackered half-coin I found yesterday and did the ad hoc silver test (spit in tinfoil which reacts to the tarnish)…turns out it is silver! So I had a silver coin (what was left of one) yesterday as well.

FullSizeRender (10)

Three Roman Hunts

17 Mar

Friday the 13th

This was the day of the monthly OBMDC meeting, which happened also to be the Annual Group Meeting, and I tried to sneak in one last hunt before the evening, so that I’d have more to record. I wanted to be on pasture rather than battling mud, so I selected Oscar Wilde. I was also keen to see if it had any Roman to offer up, given its proximity to Ulmo where I’d had Roman luck.

Did it ever! By the time my short hunt was finished, I’d found five Romans: two have some sort of visible image on them, a bust and what looks like a dolphin, respectively; I’ve prepped them for PAS recording in hopes of ID’s. Two more are grots, and the last is only potentially a grot — it could also just be a grot-shaped bit of nonferrous metal. While digging what turned out to be a chunk of lead, I also found, eyes-only, a bit of garnet that looks like it might be a Celtic intaglio, or engraved material.

FullSizeRender

I also found a bit of embossed copper alloy that may be a bracelet; a lead bag seal; a bronze oak-leaf badge; a lead weight (actually found in Reedy on the way back); the usual buttons, buckles, and musket balls, and some strange, massive bits of lead as pictured:

IMG_0749 IMG_0750

Besides the Romans, my favourite find was a little heart-shaped padlock in sterling silver, complete with a silver lion hallmark on the back.

FullSizeRender_4

Though Anni wasn’t at the club meeting, I did have a chance to compare finds with the other members. I also won a prize in the raffle, selecting this book from the prize table:

IMG_0862

The Ides of March

The other day I’d seen that a field I call Peter Quince was being ploughed, and I thought I’d try my luck.

Clearly Caesar’s oracle didn’t apply to me, as about midway through the field I found my second-ever silver hammered! This was a tiny coin, lying on the surface. The obverse looked blank, but later when I viewed it through a jeweller’s loupe, I could plainly see Queen Lizzie and a rose. The reverse is quite clear, featuring a shield and the date, 1575. Probably a three farthings or a farthing, considering the minuscule size. I was thrilled finally to have a coin from my research period.

FullSizeRender

Not long afterward I found a lovely fragment of Roman coin, with a nose and eye in profile plainly visible. If only the coin had survived entire, it would be a thing of beauty. The fragment was hard to isolate from the mud and gave a very iffy signal; I’m glad I stuck with it.

IMG_0810

After finding a few other bits and bobs, I crossed into Falstaff, which had also been ploughed. My hunch paid off, as no sooner had I started detecting in the corner of the new field than I found my finest Roman to date, a Claudius II Antonianus.

IMG_0811

Also in this field I found another spindle whorl, a couple of pennies, Edward VII (1907) and George V (1920), and a George V ha’penny.

Edward VII Penny (1907)

Edward VII Penny (1907)

Perhaps most interesting of all (besides the Antonianus) was a lead seal or medallion, quite haggard at the edges, featuring Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in profile on the obverse, and a crown and the royals’ names on the reverse:

FullSizeRender_2

Can you make out the faint profiles?

FullSizeRender_1

Returning to Peter Quince I got a strong signal for a Victorian ha’penny in very nice nick (1872).

IMG_0813 IMG_0814

Overall, my best hunt so far, I believe.

Peter Quince finds

Peter Quince finds

Falstaff finds

Falstaff finds

Roman Romanorum (16 March 2015)

It was raining this morning, so although I was keen to follow up yesterday’s fascinating finds, I was reluctant to face the newly turned earth of Peter Quince. Instead I started out in pasture on a little field in near the farm buildings that I call Charlotte Shed. I found a nice button with the legend ‘Water WLB Lane’ (apparently once a brand of workman’s trousers), an old, possibly Victorian coin, much abraded, a modern 10p, and a pre-decimal three pence.  FullSizeRender_2

In the end I thought it would be better to be muddy and in the finds, then clean and targetless, so I made my way over to Sir Thomas, another field that had recently felt the plough. I hadn’t been detecting long, maybe an hour all in, when I saw silver winking at me from the rocky hole I’d just dug. It proved to be my most exciting find to date, an antonianus of Gordius III (c. 242-244).

IMG_0817 FullSizeRender_1 FullSizeRender

I was so excited when I turned this up that I spent a half hour or so on the spot, digging down to see if this was some outlier from a deeper hoard. Alas, it appears the coin was a singular pocket drop; in any case I didn’t find any other signals in the area.

Later on the periphery of the field, I found a beautiful lead bag seal featuring an oyster shell on both sides:

IMG_0818

One target I dug turned out to be the hollow leg (in a stirrup) of what must once have been a lead toy.

Bag seal and lead toy leg.

Bag seal and lead toy leg

I also found a bit of patterned copper-alloy wire that may have been a bracelet:

FullSizeRender_1

A picture of my Sir Thomas finds, including the obligatory buckles:

FullSizeRender

History Box and a Long Circuit Hunt

10 Mar

Yesterday I gave my farmer friend a box I’d prepared to hold the objects we find on his farm. I thought having it might present a nice way to interpret local history for family and guests, and practically it was a way for me to say thank you for his generosity in allowing me to metal detect on his land. It looks like this (with the name of the farm redacted for obvious reasons):

IMG_0681IMG_0676 IMG_0680

Today (9 March) I made a long circuit at a fairly brisk pace, totalling about two miles. I started off on Reedy, and quickly found an eyes-only surface George V penny (1930).

FullSizeRender_1

The field gave up another coin, much older, but too beat up to read. Then I crossed into Falstaff. Heading up the eastern margin of the field I found a penny-size coin with a bust I couldn’t make out, possibly Georgian. IMG_0691

About halfway up the east side I made the strangest find of the day. A tiny aluminium tag which reads: ‘BRIT. MUSEUM / LONDON S.W. 7 / VX12335’. I confess I did a bit of a circle with the detector to see if the tag had serendipitously fallen from an antiquity stolen from the British Museum and buried nearby. Alas, I found nothing else, but I will follow up with the museum to see if they can identify the purpose of the tag or its number.

FullSizeRender (10) FullSizeRender_4

I found a (1983) pound coin soon thereafter, and at the top of Falstaff I found a buckle whose shape looks to be early modern or even medieval, but whose finish belies this. It will be an interesting one to ID.

FullSizeRender

From there I crossed onto Sir Thomas, a field I hadn’t yet searched. It had been freshly ploughed and looked promising. In fact away far off I could see the tractor finishing the next field, with a flock of gulls in its wake descending no doubt on the newly harrowed fat worms. I hadn’t been on Sir Thomas long when I turned up a coin — possibly a Roman nummus but too abraded to be certain.FullSizeRender_2

About halfway down the field I found a large lead object, which I think is a spindle whorl.FullSizeRender

I walked across (but found nothing in) a field I call Peter Quince, and then I finished off the day on Ulmo. As I crossed back to the car, Ulmo gave up a fairly worn Georgian coin, possibly a penny.

IMG_0692

A nice hunt and a nice walk, even if the finds didn’t feature a knockout object like I’ve had the last couple of days.

FullSizeRender_1 FullSizeRender_2

Late Afternoon Hunt on Reedy and Falstaff

6 Mar

I had some work to catch up on, so I wasn’t able to get out today until the afternoon. I started off on a field I call Reedy Crown, where I found a profusion of buttons from various eras and then finally a George V ha’penny (1918) in pretty good shape.

FullSizeRender_1

Crossing over to a massive field called Falstaff, on the verge between the fields I found this curious charm pin, eyes-only. The charms are plastic, so it must be a piece of costume jewellery.

FullSizeRender_1

Falstaff is rocky and less cultivated than the other fields and started off quiet. Midway up the field, though, I found a small hammered (I think, because whisper-thin) coin on the surface. It’s quite difficult to make out, though I can descry ‘REX’ on the obverse along with crowned arms. The crown may just be visible in this pic.

FullSizeRender

I found a strange copper cap and a thimble also, and finally after sunset and just as I was leaving the field, I found a possible Roman or even a Celtic coin. It is the size of a grotty Roman nummus, but the image on the reverse looks different to me (I’m no expert, obviously, and I’m hoping someone can help me identify it).

IMG_0644 FullSizeRender_3 FullSizeRender_2 FullSizeRender

FullSizeRender_2

Also on Falstaff I uncovered a bronze ring, very like my first ever find:

FullSizeRender (9)