Sunday, 29 September 2013

Metal Detecting With F For Gold & Silver and M Swims In The Grey Grey Sea

I don't think I have mentioned here before that F and I are keen Metal Detectorists. This is partly because of my background in Historical Studies, and partly because most of us respond on some level to the allure of Buried Treasure.

F is by far more of an expert at MD than me and is a veritable mine of information when it comes to IDing the things we find. A career in Archeology looks set to beckon him and he spends many hours walking across acres and acres of fields in all weathers, head bowed, arm swinging, listening to the sing-song tones of his detector calling out to him about the treasures just waiting to be found.

It is something he and I do together, as no-one else in the family is particularly interested in it, and as such is time I treasure.

We hadn't been out for a while (well I haven't been out for months- life for adults intervenes) so this morning I had promised him we would go together, and ten o'clock saw us ensconced in a friend's field with the rain pouring down and our metal detectors alternately pinging or remaining frustratingly silent.

You learn to hear the difference in signal sounds when you've been doing this a while, which means you don't waste hours digging holes for every single pip. There are also settings on detectors which in theory zone out waste metal such as nails and tin cans, although mine seems to ping in a very similar way for both coins and scrap. Oh well, t'is part of the joy of the hobby. For every decent find you get several rubbish ones, and nothing beats the excitement of seeing the shape of a coin peeping out of the earth and wiping the mud off to see what's on it.

F had been desperate for some time to find a hammered coin (ancient things made by placing a blank piece of metal between two dies (types of stamps containing images) and bashing it with a hammer. They date from the first millenium BC up to around the 1700s when they were replaced by Milled coinage which was produced by machinery). Hammered coins are special things and I have yet to find one. Imagine my excitement when we got a near-hysterical call from F back in April to say he had not only found his first hammered coin, but that it was a Gold Quarter Noble dating to the reign of Edward III and that it had been made between 1361-1369.

He brought it down to show us. Here it is in all its glory. Can you believe the detail on it? This coin is nearly 700 years old and probably lay buried in the earth for most of that time. It is his pride and joy, and rightfully so:

All finds are interesting, many because of the social history they inform you of. For example, my favourite find is a tiny child's thimble, dating from the Early Victorian Period, which I found on a field boundary. A little bit of research told me that thimbles are often found in fields because the women and children brought their sewing with them to do during their lunch break from working in the fields. Many thimbles come out of the earth crushed and twisted, so this one is in remarkably good condition. I like to think about who's hands it has been through and what the life was like for the person who did her sewing with it in the field where I found it.... BTW, the penny beside it is a 1p coin of our own Dear Monarch, to give a sense of scale.

Other pieces I am particularly fond of include this Jeton which was made in Nuremberg and dates to between 1500-1570. Jetons are counters used on a chequered board for accounting purposes. This is where we get our modern term "exchequer" from. They were a kind of reckoning counter and by the end of the 1400s came almost exclusively from Nuremberg. Mine is likely to be from the Schultes workshop and shows a Lion of St Mark holding a book of the Gospels on one side with an Imperial Orb within a tressure of three arches and three angels on the other.

The site we visit most often yields a large number of Georgian coins, most of them in a poor state of preservation, and this morning F got very excited when my one and only coin of the day appeared after a very strong signal. It's a Penny from the rein of George III and dates from the first decade of the 1800s. It is huge for a coin. You should be able to just about make out Britannia in the first pic below. The Georgians copied ancient Roman coins who also had this image on their coinage. George's profile in the second pic is less clear, but easily recognisable if you're used to seeing it as F is.

F found a silver Bender Love Token in the same field. This one dates from the reign of William III (1670) and is made of silver. Bender love tokens are rather lovely- the man bent the coin into an "s" shape in front of his lady love (to prove his strength perhaps). If she kept it it was Game On, but if she threw it away into a field he had better look elsewhere for love. So maybe F's love token from this morning was one that was discarded? Rather a sad tale, even if an interesting piece of evidence for social history.

F has always been nicknamed "F The Finder" in our house, and no sooner did he locate his Gold Quarter Noble than he began to find other Hammered Coins, such as this Silver Sixpence from the reign of Charles I (coin date 1639-1640). Note the "Carolvs" for Charles, top right of the pic below.

And TWO silver sixpences from the reign of Elizabeth I, which I think are my favourites. These date from 1561 and 1582 respectively, and on the latter one you can clearly see the profile of the queen. Gives me goosebumps just to look at it. All three sixpences were minted at the Tower of London. Magic.

My most ancient coin is this Roman Dupondius, only really IDable by its shape and size. It was lying on the surface of the field last autumn, probably brought up by the plough:

Other than coins I have also found this West's Silver Patent Cufflink dating from the 1880's. These are important because the design was a new one meant to hold the cufflink in place using a sort of screw mechanism:

And there have also been some musket balls, one unfired (the one nearest the coin) as it is perfect. The second is harder to tell whether or not it was ever shot. F has some fine ones with lines scraped into them by a knife- soldiers would apparently score the musket ball then roll it in poo so that when it was shot it would infect the wound. Nice eh?

I also found this a few months back and had no idea what it was until a kind person on a forum told me. It's a Jew's Harp, a kind of mouth instrument and as such is one of the oldest designs on the planet. Mine could be a hundred years old or a thousand.

I'll do the odd Metal Detecting Post every now and then as Interesting Things turn up. I've said to F I am prepared to forego my Celtic Coin find if I can find a Viking or Roman or even Saxon hoard instead!

The other thing we did today was to visit the sea. I felt the urge so we bundled everyone into the car and went down to Mudeford. It was grey and the sky was heavy with clouds and the sea did not look inviting, but M has the capacity to swim in the coldest of temperature (it's like a badge of honour with him) so he went in and swam about calling out "It's Warm! Come In!" and we all pretended we couldn't hear him and went off for an Ice Cream instead, which I find I can always manage to eat even in Mid-Winter.... M is that dark blob diving in.

I was rather taken with this holey stone...

Someon had made a whole fortification of Lovely Sandcastles

There was Quite A Lot of Interesting Seaweed...

Ted had fun pretending he was a Salty Seadog

Sexual Equality Hits Mudeford


Well, that's another weekend over with- where did it go? Somehow, it disappeared into knitting (both additions to scarf and almost another square for the blanket too), swimming (until a child was sick in the pool and we had to get out. Yuk), cooking supper for M's sister and the five of us, drinking too much wine, being inveigled into buying an awful lot of crisps, biscuits and chocolates at Asda by L when I'd only gone in for Hula Hoops, washing, hoovering, removing cobwebs (shiver), Over Seeing Computer Time and Chivvying Along Homework, trying to fix the digi box upstairs, writing up trying to make sense of my notes from college AND trying to decide who is going to be my next TV boyfriend. Current thinking is that perhaps assigning one man the role for a whole year is asking too much and what I need to do is have several a la Denise.....

THANK YOU Ladies, for all your suggestions. Food for thought indeed....

...Never a Dull Moment Here

Hope you all have a Splendid Week,

CT :-)


  1. Well, that was all rather marvellous.I love the Queen Elizabeth I coin - fabulous to think that it was held and used by an actual Elizabethan person with a ruff maybe, or a magnificent codpiece. That's why I like hugging walls in castles and old churches and cathedrals - so I can try and feel a part of hundreds of years of history. Rather humbling, really.

    And do you know what? I had the urge to go to the seaside today, too. However, we ended up at Leeds Castle, and made do with the moat instead. Lots of goose poo.

    1. Ruffs and Codpieces, those were the days...

      I'm with you 100% on wall hugging in ancient places. I lay my hands flat against walls when we visit castles etc to see what I can feel. Once in Rhodes I picked up an ancient raid on the bridge that crossed the moat of the castle there and a young man utterly terrified for his life. It really echoed with history that place.

      We are down your way for our summer hols next year and Leeds Castle is on the list. I shall beware goose poo :-)

  2. Those are incredible finds. it must be so exciting when you find something. The water look so cold, I would definitely prefer the icecream!
    Sarah x

    1. It is unbelievably exciting (almost as much as emptying the moth box of a morning). I would love to find a Celtic Coin but as I said in the post it is also the small finds that tell a story that can be mesmerising.

      I'm with you on the ice cream :-)

  3. What an interesting post!! I always hate history at school but you made it intriguing! I remember what fun it used to be trying to decipher lecture notes! I hope you have a great week :)

    1. Ah Ha! I should have been your teacher- we would have spent all day outside looking for things instead of indoors staring at a blackboard. History is GREAT when you can study the subject that interests you in depth :-)

  4. HI CT i am getting caught up on post and have been reading your last post with comments. Hilarious. this was a interesting post and wonderful finds. Swimming in that cold water is not for me but I will have the ice cream

    1. I hope to crown the new TVBF by the end of the week and will announce the lucky boy's name then :-)

      Def agree re ice cream over swimming in a chilly sea!

  5. Really interesting post CT - what a superb pastime. Can just imagine the excitement of finding something that no-one has seen for years since the item was lost. I just love the hammered coins - look forward to seeing more of your discoveries in the future.

    Two family sightings of MS - am even greener!!!! I think son might try and get an interview with him for his newspaper re: play that he's in shortly. Nice when someone famous is so unassuming :) I think he might replace BC as my "tv boyfriend" :)

    1. If your son interviews him you have the perfect excuse to be there too! Note taker? Photographer? Wildlife expert, to pose interesting, intelligent and well-informed questions to let the readership know about The Issues Close To His Heart?(Wendy says he champions our wild things and places). Failing any of those, how about good old tea, coffee and biscuit provider? Or simply Mother Of The Interviewer Who Thinks He Is Gorgeous? HOW exciting! Hope you manage to wangle your way in under whatever guise works best! Do let me know :-)

  6. How exciting and fascinating to find your own 'treasure' like that. I would try to imagine who dropped them and why and what was happening around them at the time. I'd feel I had a tiny piece of their life.
    The seaside looked very bracing and the sea cold. It would be icecream for me, too.

    1. I think it's the stories behind the objects that fascinate me most. Each one is a tangible link to the past, and in the case of the coins, independent proof that the monarchs existed and looked like we think they did!

  7. We are total wimps and only get in the sea in wet suits. Love all the old finds, I always think it's great to have or own something so old. My courses have all started now so busy in the evenings now and lost Monday to the zoo's almost Wednesday already!

    1. Which ones are you doing? Sounds interesting...

      I don't go in the sea (too many monsters lurking beneath the surface pretending to be seaweed) and get remorselessly teased about it!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them. CT.