Video

Daria’s EoW Theme

16 Apr

Daria watched some Deep Digger Dan videos with Gooey and me, and she wanted EoW to have a catchy lead-in song (D3 uses They Might Be Giants’s ‘My Metal Detector’; if you haven’t seen his MD videos, check out his YouTube page at: http://www.youtube.com/user/DeepDiggerDan).

She asked me several times to find a theme tune or to ask Gooey to write one. In the end, she took matters into her own hands. This is what she came up with…

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Video

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).

Video

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)

Video

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…

Video

Maldon Misadventure

18 Mar

In which we spend five minutes braving the deep, stinky mud (and goose poop) to detect the Crown Foreshore in Maldon.

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Apex Prospecting Pick ‘Extreme’

18 Mar

In another unpacking video, my dad receives the top-of-the-range Extreme pick from Apex, with three rare-earth magnets built into the pick head. My friend Gabriel thinks the blog medium privileges puns; I don’t know how that is, but I did almost call this post ‘Pick of the Litter’ or ‘Pick a Winner’.

Video

Surprise Unpacking Video

16 Mar

The girls volunteer to help with an unpacking video, not knowing that what they unpack will change their detecting future…forever.