Monday, 4 November 2019

Abbey Cottages — Over the Wire!

One sunny August morning I'd arrived on-site, leant my bike against the barbed wire fence, and then started detecting in the thicket.

Just as soon as I had, an ancient Land Rover turned up and out jumped an equally ancient, but sprightly and vivacious woman ...

Dressed in ragged skirts and apron, woolly jumpers, a tattered and torn waxed-jacket with a blue headscarf (that may indeed have been a tea towel!) tied by a kneck knot around her head, and for footwear, sporting wellington boots with the tops turned down ... she was the absolute spit of a Van Gogh peasant.

Quite a picture she was!

Opening the gate to the cattle field, she drove into ...

Was this the Queen of England? Or was she my landowner?! 

I thought that, she must be the latter, and that I'd better introduce myself sharpish while I had the chance, explain what I was up to and then ask outright for permission to use my detector in the ground across the now hated barbed-wire fence ...

I called out to her in my best voice just as if she were the Queen of England, said my hello's, and then we started talking — and to my satisfaction — once I was convinced that she was indeed queen of this land and a generous one too, and I'd convinced her that I was indeed a madman but only a harmless one, she said that she'd give permission readily if only I would do her one small, tiny, tiny, incy, wincy little favour ...

I agreed! Without knowing quite what kind of favour it was that I was agreeing to ...

She beckoned me into the field, opened the tailgate of the old jaloppy, told me to get in the back, sit atop the pile of mangelwurzels there and pitch one out every five seconds as she drove around the bumpy hoof-pocked field.

I did as I was told!

And when we were done, the cattle, who had been absent all the while, began ambling back from an out-of-sight field down by the river and proceeded to chomp down on their breakfasts.

Having secured my permission, and with the cattle well away from the house site, I ambled back to the bike only to find that it was gone. I'd left my gear in the thicket but discovered, thankfully, that it was still where I'd left it. And so my new permission had cost me dearly — and to the tune of a sore backside, a mountain bike and a long walk back home! 

I had not lost my precious C-Scope 770D (with radical modifications!) which had stood me in such good stead over the past few years, and so I took this all in good humour and set back to work. 


 Hair ornaments?  Silver-plated copper-alloy. 59mm x 44mm.
I found that the soil in this new patch of mine had been somewhat modified by the hooves, the urine and the droppings of the cattle and to my initial dismay that copper-alloy items were often found broken, distorted, or in a corroded state. However, it was to prove worthwhile. Not everything was damaged but the chances were much higher than I had experienced previously when most everything had come out the ground in superb condition.

The womenfolk of the house had been noticeably absent from the finds record in the thicket and on the ramp, but as the days and weeks passed I began to find the evidence of them in the form of costume jewellery and other small trinkets. Two identical copper-alloy items, that I think are probably a pair of hair ornaments, were found nearby to each other but on separate occasions. They were in very different states of preservation (as you can see above) where one example is quite corroded whilst the second example is not at all and retains traces of silvering.

The rings on my left pinky. These are rings are small.
There were also three small finger rings of gilt-brass, two of which were broken and one complete and in good shape but missing its stone. These were as feminine a find that I could have made because they were certainly not made for men or boys.

Of course, I was to find more thimbles but thimbles were not necessarily the sole property of women, were they? I also found lots more buttons (I would eventually amass a collection of 40 specimens) which comprised of dandy buttons, military and service buttons but also small closed-back jacket buttons that did appear to be feminine.


One morning I discovered an item that at the time I hoped might eventually lead me to the name of the man of the house. This was a rectangular brass from a leather horse harness, and better, it was engraved with the owners initials and later I also found a circular martingale brass but this was a straightforward fretted example in the form of the sun or a star.

Thereafter, I called my man of the house, 'Bill Cobb'!

I thought that to be a name suiting such a country gentleman as him. 





Thursday, 31 October 2019

End of Month Round Up — October 2019

October has been an exciting but frustrating month for me. Finds wise, it has not been anywhere near so productive as September was, and I guess that is only because I have not been out so very much.

Other concerns have taken over!

However, let's look at what finds I have made this month and try to make some sort of sense out of them.

The toy production of Polly's Parlour has slowed down somewhat. Actually, it's not that the finds of toys have slowed down, but rather that the size of them has diminished. I am still finding them but except for a brass teetotum (shown above alongside a very early example in ivory), all the rest have been small fragments of hollow-cast Victorian pewter equestrian examples. 

I have found another horses' arse since the picture below was taken...






I have to say that the production of shirt buttons from Polly's Parlour has fallen hugely as has the production of silver items. This is cause for concern. I have used the XP ADX130 there throughout the month but not once the Laser B1. What this might mean is that the XP is just not such a good machine when it comes to sites that are laced with iron debris. 

The two examples at the bottom were found elsewhere. 
I cannot blame the machine for not finding silver — except for the find of a Sterling silver watch casing, maybe I just failed to walk over other items made from it? However, when using the Laser B1 during September I was finding shirt buttons each and every visit and in number. By the end of September, I had amassed an 'accidental' collection of thirteen examples and saw no reason why the trend should peter out. The XP, by comparison, has only given me another on every other visit throughout the month and so I have added only another three to what I once thought would be an ever-growing collection.

These buttons are about the same size as Medieval pennies are ... 

I once had a site that over time produced eleven short cross pennies in total and a few cut coins also.  I had to work hard for them but was always completely confident that if one of these coins was in range then the B1 would find it even if it was on edge. It's so very important to trust your detector to do this for you ...

This is not a good sign! 

I think, therefore, that the Laser B1 lives up to its reputation as a formidable machine. It is one that excels with very small items and is also one that is still capable of beating modern detectors on busy and trashy sites. 

No fool would ever sell one, and I am not one of those! 




I did find a number of odd artefacts. Above is a fragment of something that I cannot quite imagine. It's in bronze or brass or latten or bell metal, or something. It is too clean to be ancient — however it looks to be so, does it not?

Length - 37mm.

It can keep. The truth will out!


Two items found within a few feet of each other (with the B1) would prove to be the most interesting things that I would discover on an organised dig down in Berkshire. One is a small base-silver mount (about the same size as a Saxon sceat) that could be Medieval — or anything really! It has no means of attachment on the reverse, which is simply hollow, and therefore it must have been inset into a recess in wood, maybe leather or even another metal and attached by a mastic.

The other item is an equally confusing thing. It is decorated with the same design on both sides, therefore it is almost certainly part of a handle that would be viewed from both sides.

But it is the handle from what? A mirror, a spoon, a ladle, a frying pan. Who knows?

I have no idea ...


Lastly was an inscrutable object that looked all the world like a Medieval folding mirror case when discovered covered in wet and sloppy mud on a rainy October day out and about in the deer park of a moated house. The XP proved itself capable on this old pasture field and I had no doubt that it would pull up items at great depths. 

It was very quiet and signals few and far between, however, almost all were from worthwhile finds and only a few were from trash items. Most of these finds were coins once lost along an old footpath. Dating from the 18th till the early 20th century, they were all pretty deep down in the topsoil at between six and ten inches. The subsoil itself was found only twelve inches below the surface and so I doubt that it has ever been ploughed. 

When I moved away from the footpath then signals became very thin on the ground indeed. But then I came to an area — a low but noticeable hump — when iron chatter began and here and there I got signals from larger iron objects. Clearly, I'd found a place where something had gone on in the past. That is where the mystery object came from. I went back to see if I could find the other half of it but failed to. It will be a shame if I never do because I think that it will provide a solution to the problem of identification. 

What the hell it really is,  I just don't know.

It's the right size and is in the form of a mirror case. However, it is not one of those, I think.

But it's a folding thingy of some kind ...

I reckon!











Thursday, 24 October 2019

Abbey Cottages — Evidence Emerging!

After my initial exploration of the area available to search in front of the barbed wire fence, I wanted to see if finds would continue beyond it because I thought that they must. And so I pushed the search coil through the fence and scanned the surface in all-metal mode. Sure enough, the ground was alive with iron signals.  However, I did not have permission to dig there! 

On the subject of iron, the ground that I had worked thus far had been laced with it to the point of saturation. Quite how I'd managed to retrieve anything worthwhile seemed astonishing, but I had. I then decided that I must set to work cleaning the soil of objects of iron that were masking better finds. Up from the ground came chunk after chunk of cast iron drainpipe. 

This may have been hard toil, but this iron junk was the clear evidence that once upon a time a house had stood there and what I'd dug up were objects lost and discarded in its gardens. Now the site had started to make some sense. No longer were these Georgian and Victorian objects just the random losses made by picnickers reclining idly beside a pretty pond, but were those periodic but continual losses of a family who had lived and most probably worked at this lake throughout the entirety of the 19th century. 



I imagined a game-keeper who had once served as an officer during the Napoleonic wars as master of this house. The musket balls alone seemed evidence of him and the military button too, but when I found the trigger guard of his flintlock musket, I really began to feel his presence. 

This trigger guard lacks any means for attachment for the shoulder strap
and therefore was probably not from a military 'Brown Bess' musket but
rather a wildfowling gun. (The barrel to your left — stock to your right)

Because I had yet to gain access to the cattle field, I soldiered on in the thicket for many weeks and in that time made many pleasant discoveries. I suppose the best thing was that items had lain in garden soil for over a century at the very least and for almost two centuries for the earliest finds. 

This soil was basically river gravel but with a great deal of added organic material that I imagined got there by way of manuring over a very long period of time. Whoever had lived there had certainly tended their gardens dutifully because the soil they'd created was friable, so rich that it was almost black in colour, and smelled so good that I swore that I could eat it! 

Because of these admirable qualities, it had preserved most copper alloy items beautifully. Almost everything made in copper or bronze or brass possessed the same smooth dark green patina and very little of it was corroded or encrusted. In fact, sometimes it was so very good that just a quick rub between the fingers would expose a completely clean find and I never really had to scrub clean anything back at home.

As for coinage, well, what I'd found of it had tied in with the artefacts very neatly indeed and ranged from George I till late in the reign of late Victoria. However, the earlier 18th-century coins were all very worn and so these were not proof of much. They could have been lost a century later than their striking, or even more. The latest coin found was a Victoria old-head penny of 1896 in quite worn condition and so this was an early 20th century loss — but not one single Edwardian coin had yet been discovered.

I could not imagine origins much earlier than the turn of the 19th Century even if some of the objects found suggested otherwise. The best of the coins dated the site rather well. A George III 1807 halfpenny (above) and farthing of the same date were in such lightly circulated condition that both must have been lost shortly after their strike date. And so I thought that these two coins were the earliest clear evidence for dating purposes and showed that the cottages certainly stood there by 1810-15.

However, digging up material evidence for dating a site is a nebulous thing. Who knows what has been missed? I thought gaining documentary evidence to be a more certain gambit, and I had the means ...

I had access to a full-scale (and perhaps original) copy of the immensely useful and informative, John Chapman & Peter Andre 1777 map of Essex, which was held in a large cabinet in Romford Library and from which I'd derived a great deal of information in the past about my previous 'best site' and its surroundings. 


I went to town and took a fresh look at the map. Abbey Cottages did not appear upon it and so I believed that they could not have existed prior to its creation. And so, with map evidence backing up my initial findings, I concluded that these cottages were indeed built at around the turn of the 19th Century.

Having established a number of things to my satisfaction I found that I now had a new mission to accomplish — for I had seen the clear evidence of the master of the house emerge from the ground, and, by way of a single tiny, tiny thimble, also one of his daughters — but I had yet to find any clear evidence of the matriarch. 

At that point, this was the most interesting thing ...






Friday, 18 October 2019

Abbey Cottages — Discovery!

It is my intention to write an account here of my discovery and subsequent exploration of a single period site located in Rainham, Essex, which dated from probably the early 19th-century and which terminated at some time in the early 20th century.  I will also endeavour to picture and catalogue all the finds made on the site over the time that I spent there because I hope that this will be a valuable resource for those interested in rural working class domestic life during the 19th Century. 

The site was capped during landscaping work later on in the 1990's and now lays beneath a great deal of extra imported soil. This protects it, but at the time this meant that no further work could take place and so I did not manage to retrieve much in the way of pottery. Nevertheless, what I did discover in the way of metallic objects tells a story that I think is necessary to record. 

Abbey Cottages once stood at Abbey Wood by Berwick Pond and were built upon a low gravel hillock set in marshy land close to the River Ingrebourne. When I stumbled upon the plot one day in 1993 the cottages had been long demolished. There was nothing visible to suggest that they had ever existed and only by following a trail of finds along the trackway which once led to them did I discover the evidence of them.

I was out on my bike prospecting for a new site to work on. I came to what I knew was a very old lake, thought that it looked a good place to search, and so I asked the fishery bailiff if I might and he gave permission. There were a few small fields to go at, but firstly, I tried detecting on the wide grass verge of the trackway that led from the main road along which anglers parked their cars. To my surprise, I did not locate lead fishing weights as I had expected to, but immediately made finds of late 18th and 19th-century date and these were mostly thimbles and 'dandy' buttons.

The trail of these finds petered out in the eastward direction but strengthened in the westward, and so I continued to follow it in that direction and eventually arrived at what appeared to be a gravel vehicle ramp ... 

To the left of this 'ramp' was a dense thicket of thorn bushes and to the right-hand side was a steep drop-off with a small field that was full of cattle about five or six feet below. It terminated at a roughly made barbed-wire fence beyond which I beheld a positively lunar landscape.  The ground had been churned up everywhere by the hooves of the cattle who clearly had free access to the area, and here and there were sorry looking spindly bushes nibbled to near extinction. 

I concentrated upon the ramp for the remainder of the afternoon continuing to find buttons — but they were not at all easy to dig. The ground was highly compacted and it was a lot of effort recovering anything. It was time well spent, though. For their age, they were all preserved in truly excellent condition and when an 18th-century Sheffield plate military button came along I was best pleased.

Officer's tunic button of the Essex Light Dragoons, 1794.
(See references at bottom of page)
At home, I pondered these novel discoveries and decided to return to the ramp the very next day. The recovery of finds dropped off fairly quickly, of course, and so I was forced into the thicket where I spent the rest of the morning struggling through it. However, the finds rate rose considerably when I found myself digging musket ball after musket ball and all spread across one small area.  I must have found ten before I found anything else (eventually amassing a collection of at least fifty of them) but I thought it to be well worth all the effort expended.  

I remember having to really struggle with one signal which was gotten at arm's length through a particularly prickly bramble bush. Finally, I got my trowel in, dug around through the thick leaf mould and managed to recover it from the topsoil. I expected yet another musket ball to be hiding inside the clod of hard-won soil clenched safely in my left hand but was surprised to see a truly lovely object fall into the palm of the right ...


Here was a find to get the heart racing — a Georgian fob seal! It was in such lovely condition, with traces of gilding in every recess and where the gilt had rubbed through to brass, the most gorgeous, lush dark-green patina. And it was complete, too! It still held its white stone intaglio, which was carved with a little crouched rabbit or hare. I thought to myself, that without any inscription that would give away the name of the erstwhile owner, that this animal must be a hare after all, and the loser — a Mr or Mrs Hare ... 

O'Hare, even! 

I pocketed this find and continued on, only to be arrested in my tracks a short while later by the worrying sight of a pair of approaching police officers. I really thought that I was about to be chucked off-site. Fortunately, it turned out that they had had other business to attend to which had led them nowhere fast and now they'd found an interest in what I was up to. We talked for some time about the finds that I had made, and curiously one seemed to know something (if not much!) about them.

I could not work this out for some time; bemused to be in conversation at such a level of understanding with a member of the constabulary — but what I had failed to apprehend until an introduction was made, was that this knowledgeable officer was a detectorist too and was also a member of my local detecting club. We'd already met in civvies!

People can look so utterly 'other' when in uniform, can't they?





References;

1. Dixon Noonan Webb
Raised in March 1794 by Montague Burgoyne, of Harlow, the Essex Light Dragoons saw service in Ireland at the time of the French invasion in 1798. It was disembodied sometime in 1799 and, to mark the occasion each officer and man who had served throughout the regiment’s existence was presented with a medal by their Commanding Officer. 

2. History of the Essex Yeomanry
In 1794, six Troops of the ‘Loyal Essex Regiment of Fencible Cavalry’ were formed from the Harlow area, to be later renamed ‘The Essex Light Dragoons’, against threats of a French invasion with landings on the Essex Coast. In 1797 the 1st Essex Yeomanry Cavalry Troop was raised, in Coopersale, followed by the Chelmsford Hundred Yeomanry: by 1798 there were fifteen such Yeomanry Cavalry Troops throughout Essex named, in many cases, after the village, district or landowner where they raised



Tuesday, 15 October 2019

The Park — Yet Another Most Curious Object

Yesterday was wet. Very wet. I had decided to go out early on the pasture once again but was delayed and so with rain predicted to arrive in Coventry around the two o'clock mark, I decided to dress up for the occasion and go out regardless. The field was mine for once with the sheep all congregated at the far end and the cattle making their way to the cattle shed. Super!

I decided to stick to the footpath that once ran along the border of the field. I'd found a button and a coin at some depth on my first trial dig there, had been forced off the second time around, but now I would be able to see if more of the same would be found. The answer was affirmative and I dug four coins, one after the other. All were at depths from six to ten inches and I was pleased to be able to convert some very faint and even scratchy signals into worthwhile recoveries. I was also pleased that a halfpenny found at around the eight-inch mark gave a very clear signal indeed.

And I have to say that I was also, also, pleased that these finds of coins from this field were following a logical pattern. A linear pattern. A footpath pattern. The kind of pattern that the annual ploughing of fields muddles with so much that nothing is ever so clear cut ...

One thing that I have noticed about the XP ADX150 is that signals do not improve much in either clarity or loudness when the first clod of earth is removed. This would be normal for the Laser B1, whose signals always seem to improve by doing this. Nevertheless, the field is very quiet and when signals are encountered no matter how uncertain they may sound once the hole is deepened, I have found that I might as well continue digging just to see what happens. I would not have recovered the deepest coin if I had not ...

A few other old scraps were found amongst which was part of a broken 18th buckle, but there wasn't much modern trash to contend with — and that is a very good sign! 


Only when I ventured out into the middle of the field did I turn up an interesting artefact. At first, I really thought that I'd found one half of a Medieval folding mirror case. It was just the right size and shape but even covered in wet sticky mud I could see that if it was one of those, then it was also a very unusual one indeed. Another addition to my growing collection of Most Curious Objects, perhaps?







At the moment I am confused about this object. It is the right size and is the right form for a folding mirror case of Medieval date and viewed from one direction is really looks like one. However, viewed from the reverse side it has the most curious 'attachments' riveted upon it. They look like claws! Also, it possesses one remaining lug and the remains of another which suggest that some kind of brooch pin once existed. That, or something similar.

Given the date of the other finds made, I am going with Post-Medieval and some kind of folding pocket thingy. That's my best shot at the moment, I'm afraid.

Now I'm going out to see if I can find the other half, which if it comes and I hope that it does, may clarify matters somewhat! 



Monday, 14 October 2019

The Park — Pasture ... Oh, Lovely Pasture!

Pasture ...

Oh, lovely pasture!

I'd forgotten just how lovely pasture land could be ...

I'd also forgotten about the very many frustrations that it might impose upon the detectorist!


The pasture land that we have, consists of two large fields one of which is poorly preserved ridge and furrow and the other was once part of the deer park surrounding a Medieval moated house. Promising, you might say, but just because both fields have Medieval usage written all over them, this means very little. They may still prove to contain not very much in the way of Medieval material.

There are also two smaller fields, one of which is tiny and was my first port of call. There I dug modern detritus at the full depth of the topsoil — and so I let it be! The second small field was quiet and when I dug a WW2 webbing buckle at eight-inches I thought that to be about right for an item of such a date. I then tried the deer park field which was quiet also, but then I spotted a lone sheep away from the flock and defending a feed trough. Of course, this was a ram, and a big boy he was! 

I really don't mind being amongst ewes and lambs. I really don't mind being amongst cows, heifers and calves. I really do mind being anywhere near rams and bulls because they are territorial and will kill to defend what is rightfully theirs — which is the right to procreate!



The ram watched me and I watched the ram. I could not concentrate on detecting until I reached the other side of the field and the relative safety of a handy barbed-wire fence that I could dive over should things turn bad. This fence marked the route of an ancient footpath. And so I detected along it hoping to find evidence that the field would give up items of some age and at a reasonable depth. 

It did. A Georgian tunic button at around seven inches depth and a Victoria penny at around nine inches. I was very pleased with this because it may mean that the field will provide ancient items that have not sunk so far down as to be out of range to a deepish-seeking machine such as the XP ADX150.

And then the cattle, who had been grazing in the ridge and furrow field returned to the deer park. This did not worry me unduly until one of them mounted another when I knew that a bull was on site! And so I departed the field for the one just across the handy barbed-wire fence ... 

Immediately!

And so, my desired pasture experiment was over before it had really begun...



This 'safe' field was arable and one that I had detected a few times before. It had not provided much in the way of good finds but what finds it had provided seemed, on average, to be older than those from Polly's Parlour next door. Once again, it lived up to this trend with the occasional Georgian button, some old coinage and other odds and ends — but then, up from the earth came a very interesting fragment of a bronze — err — vessel?

I'd never seen anything like this. However, I had seen many things that certain elements of its decoration reminded me of. For instance, the background stippling which consists of repetitively punched annulets made with the same tool ... 

Punched annulets? What do they say? 

I don't know about you ... but, Medieval and earlier is what they say to me!

What the 'anchor-shaped' element means I cannot imagine. That it was once part of a larger design is for certain, but what kind of design would that have been? All that I can say is that linear elements in Saxon and Romanesque art were often longitudinally divided by two lines into three parts.

Also, it is in remarkably good condition if it is indeed of such an age. The metal is so clean that it appears to have been in the ground for just a few tens of years. However, the nearby river was redirected in the late 19th century and once again in the nineteen-eighties when an arterial road was constructed across it. It may have been buried under river gravels for many centuries and then deposited in the field within a load of dredged spoil.

Bronze items from such a context can stay just as fresh and sharp as the day they were deposited, believe me. But of course, it may just be modern — but if so, then I cannot imagine just what kind of modern object it could be from.

However, it is whatever it is, and is from whenever it was made, and nothing whatsoever can change that fact!

But finding that fact?

We'll see ... 




Monday, 7 October 2019

A Ploughsharing Upon the Berkshire Downs



On Sunday morning we went along to an organised dig in Berkshire. This would be Judy's first taste of an extended period of time spent detecting and I was interested to see how she would cope with a full six-hour session. Mind you, having got back into the swing of things only recently, I was just as interested in seeing how I'd cope because a four-hour stint I find quite tiring at the moment. Though I am slowly building stamina, I cannot imagine how I used to cope with sessions lasting six, eight, nine, ten or even twelve hours in length!

"Youth" you might say?

Pah! I was already over the hill when I began!

We'd arrived at the predetermined destination only to find nobody there! We'd then scratched at our heads awhile and then we'd decided that the participants must have decided against detecting in such an exposed location on such a breezy day. They must have decamped to somewhere less unfriendly nearby, we'd thought. We'd then decided to backtrack up the main road whilst I kept a lookout for a hoard of figures winding their ways across a field. Luckily we'd found them in a set of fields at the next village along.

It seems that I have a Berkshire relative ...
Enough of we'd!

We chose to start in a field by the main road. Nobody else seemed to want to bother with it and were focussed upon the field right next to the village, for obvious reason. All the fields available were under wheat stubble and the stalks, though just three or four inches tall, were pretty stiff. This is not my idea of detecting heaven and in the past, I would never set foot on such a field unless there really were no better options available. There always were — I had three thousand acres of prime and very productive Essex farmland at my disposal back then.

It was tough going. I chose to work the tractor tracks so that I could more easily identify areas that might be worthwhile concentrating upon, but Judy proceeded to skim the stalks from the outset. Both of these approaches had their advantages and disadvantages. My approach meant that digging in such compacted stony ground would be a trial of patience while for Judy, digging in the uncompacted high stubble would be relatively easy by comparison. However, she would sacrifice her finds rate by doing so and limit herself to large and surface objects, but I would be able to locate even the tiniest items and find everything that lay in my path.

After spending four arduous hours in this field we'd had more than enough of it and so we decamped to the village pub for lunch and refreshment where we could share thoughts about our first proper plough experience together, when I could show my finds to Judy and most importantly, I could take a gander at the contents of her bulging finds pouch. 



Although I knew full well that Judy's inexperience meant that under such tough conditions she would locate far fewer positive signals than I — I didn't realise that I would retrieve five times as many non-ferrous items as she ...

This was cause for concern but I really had no idea how to address the issue. I guess that wheat stubble is something that every British detectorist must learn how to cope with but I hadn't banked on such a great discrepancy between our performances. I thought that maybe it was her ADX150 at fault but having already established to my own satisfaction that it is capable of performing just as well (on an average field) as my Laser B1, that thought was put aside. 

I hadn't watched her at work but of course, she had been skimming the top of the stubble and not actually penetrating it very far. She also complained that pinpointing objects would cost her a great deal of time. I asked her how much time on average she thought she'd have to dig in order to locate each signal and she replied  ~

"Maybe five, ten, even fifteen minutes ..." 

She then asked what length of time I would typically spend on digging a target ~

"Uh, about one minute at most unless it's a tiny, tiny thing!"

Two items found within a few feet of each other. On the right is a tiny, tiny thing. To my mind, if a detector fails to locate such items as this then it is useless because at just 11mm diameter this little decorated silver mount is the size of a Saxon sceat or tremissis.  If you look at the picture of my finds from this day then you will see other items that are even smaller than this and one that is just a third of its size. The Laser B1 has no trouble with such scraps of metal. I don't yet know if the XP ADX150 is up to the job. The larger object is a mystery at this moment. It is decorated on both sides with the same design and so it must be part of the handle for something that would be viewed from either direction. Period? Roman or Georgian, I reckon ...  


Now, I had had some trouble with the ADX150 when pinpointing because it has a DD coil while the B1 has a concentric one. They perform very differently, but because I had absolutely no prior experience of using a DD coil, I believed it would work just like a concentric one. You know — it would be exactly on spot every time. It wasn't. Compared to the absolute precision with which the B1 pinpoints targets, the position of the target given by the 150 always seemed uncertain. I had to see a diagram of its search pattern in order to understand why so often I would begin to dig in the wrong place and waste a lot of time by doing so. 

Aahh! The sweet, sweet smell of freedom from toil!

After lunch, we moved to another field that had been released around mid-afternoon. People had already come, tried and gone. We met a fella on his way out who'd dug just two signals in an hour! However, this field was perfect because although it would prove to be almost completely devoid of finds it was almost completely clear of stubble and so I could watch Judy at work on a dead flat surface.

She began by swinging the coil upwards at the end of every pass — bad girl!

This was soon corrected and then she enjoyed a happy couple of hours under very little physical strain and actually outperformed me by finding three .303 bullets to my one shirt button (a Birmingham branded example no less!) which I thought odd, because earlier I'd found six spent .303 shell casings in the field just across the road ...

Had they fired at targets placed in this field and through passing traffic, I wondered?

She even seemed to have mastered pinpointing by close of play. By walking about the signal in all directions she managed to locate the true centre of the signal and thereby spent a great deal less time than she previously had in the necessary job of retrieving her targets quickly. This lesson taught me something important ...

But at the very last — I outclassed her when I found what I believe may be the first two objects from a significant hoard of the same because they were both located within just a few feet of each other ...