Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Another Few Hours In The Fields

They say "Make Hay When The Sun Shines" and metal detector enthusiasts like me need to  get detecting while the crops are out. Modern farming methods are now so efficient that it can sometimes be only a day between harvesting a crop and sowing a new one. But I had some good news when one of the farmers who allows me to search told me that he would not be planting several fields again until September. So off I headed to try out the new coil I just bought for my detector. The XP Deus detector has been a wonderful machine so I doubted that buying a 2" larger diameter coil would make too much difference. Other users reviews had, however, been sufficiently encouraging for me to buy.

This was what I turned out  of my bag when I got home three hours after setting off. I had dug over ninety signals - a far higher number than I would usually expect and more than I had dug on the same field in the same time last weekend (see earlier blog)

After getting rid of the rubbish and modern scrap, this remained.

I was very pleased with the results. Here are some close ups of the more interesting finds.

This is a silver groat (fourpence) from the reign of Richard II (1377-1399). It's a rare coin and even in poor condition worth over £200 so I need to ask the landowner if he wants me to sell it or pay him half its value. I'm going to see him when I have a valuation.

The reverse is in much better condition.

This penny is dated 1571 (or 1572). The monarch is Elizabeth but it's a very worn and probably worthless coin.

This is a fragment of a cooking vessel and is probably Post Medieval (post 1485).

The lead item on the left is a spindle or loom weight which is difficult to date but can range from Roman to Post Medieval. The other item is twisted lead - perhaps a makeshift loom weight.

I can't identify this copper alloy item and will need the archaeologist's help.

This is a good little Post Medieval strap fitting.

Another mystery piece of copper alloy. A vessel handle perhaps?

A large calibre musket ball.

A Medieval buckle.

I am fairly sure that this is a fragment of a Post Medieval spur rowel.

A fragment of a Medieval jetton (sometimes used as gaming counters) and a possible silver hammered coin fragment.

A Post Medieval lead window came used for holding glass in place.

Some casket or drawer fittings. The top one is fairly modern but the bottom appears very old.

A fine Post Medieval mount with plenty of original gilding remaining.

A Medieval stud.

This button is modern (19th century) but very decorative.

A brooch or buckle fragment. Possibly Medieval.

I was so encouraged by these finds in such a short time that I gave the same field another try today.I wasn't disappointed. I haven't had time to photograph the finds yet but with another three hammered silver coins I have now found eight in the last three trips (compared to five in the whole of 2012). I'll put details on a blog soon.

Goodbye To An Old Friend

It's only a car but in the four and a half years that we owned the Toyota Prius we grew very attached to it as it was our main transport during the six months that we were living in Scotland and making regular visits to see the builders in Suffolk. In that six months we notched up almost twenty thousand miles and spent an awful lot of time in the car. We'll never forget driving away from Southport with the Prius loaded to the roof with everything we might need for six months of caravan living.

But since we bought a new car in June last year the Prius has been sitting on the drive for most of the time as it's nowhere near as comfy as the new car. We sometimes need to travel individually (even though its only short distances) so a second car is a necessity. We wanted something comfortable to use for most of our short journeys around Suffolk and regular visits to the family in Kent while saving the bigger vehicle for Scotland and longer trips. After plenty of research we came up with the Mercedes B200 sport. It was the Which Best Buy in its class and the Mercedes Dealership, Robinsons in Bury St Edmunds, were very helpful last year.

It arrived yesterday. It's not the best looking vehicle but it's beautifully equipped and very comfortable. The salesman went to great lengths to sell us the special stone chip insurance and, it's a good job he did as, driving back from the dealership, a lorry threw up something that hit the car.

So, with less than fifty miles on the clock, we were on the phone to the insurance company today making a claim - an insurance worth taking out!

I mentioned visits to Kent earlier. We went on Friday to help the family prepare for our granddaughter Catherine's birthday party. It was a stiflingly humid sunny day but in the evening a huge storm cloud suddenly blew in and within a few minutes we went from dusk to pitch black. Paul filmed a few seconds on his phone.

Sudden blackness (the green is a pedestrian crossing).

An enormous lightning flash.

And back to blackness with another lightning bolt in the top corner.

We've witnessed some of the wildest storms we've ever seen in the UK over the last few days - they really have been spectacular.

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Big Thank You To The Crown Framlingham

I'm a bit late in posting this (needed time to recover from the hangover) but Marion and I wanted to thank The Crown for giving us a memorable evening on our wedding anniversary last Thursday. 

We booked a table for dinner and chef Matt Ransome provided a fabulous meal. It was one of the glorious evenings that we've been enjoying lately and we were able to sip a few glasses of fizz outside the hotel in the sunshine before going inside to eat. Service from Emma was, as always, extremely friendly and attentive. She was accompanied by an equally friendly and helpful young man.

We enjoyed a couple of delicious amuse-bouches before this delightful light starter of wafer thin cucumber filled with Cromer crab. I know that people taking photos of their dinners are a pain but this was so nice to look at that I asked if they would mind me taking it.

I had this substantial duck breast served with lovely gnocchi as a main and Marion enjoyed an excellent salmon course. We accompanied these with a nicely chilled bottle of good French white and rounded the meal off with a great cheese board and some light sorbets.

It's wonderful to have such fine cooking and good service within easy walking distance of home. We've watched The Crown go from strength to strength since David and India took over the place and Matt Ransome is a very adventurous chef who clearly takes great pride in developing new and interesting dishes. Although there are many fine dining establishments in Suffolk I see little point in driving to them when this excellent venue is right on our doorstep.

Thank you.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

If You Build It They Will Come

When I first heard about Little Lightning's plan to create an art house cinema in a local barn here in Framlingham I was delighted and said so on this blog. Last night, after a couple of months of anticipation, the big night finally arrived and a sell out audience headed to Little Lodge farm for the opening. 

It was a warm and sultry evening so we chose to walk and took a bucolic stroll around the castle moat and the mere before heading across the quintessentially English cricket ground. We arrived to be met by the charming hostess Chris and assistants serving welcome glasses of chilled prosecco. 

The barn is still in the course of restoration and we had been warned in advance that temperatures might drop inside the building. There was little chance of that with early evening temperatures still in the twenties as we took our seats in the barn which has been comfortably furnished with a mix of old sofas and chairs. A chilled glass of white wine from the well stocked and inexpensive bar behind the screen was welcome as we settled down to watch the wonderful 1988 Italian classic Cinema Paradiso

I am sure that we were not alone in having seen the film before but it was an inspired choice of opening movie being, as it is, a love letter to cinema. You can't fail to be charmed by the scene stealing performance of little Salvatore Cascio who plays Toto the child who befriends projectionist Alfredo and begins a lifelong love affair with the silver screen. 

This was the Director's Cut - a longer version containing new scenes - so there was an interval in which, continuing the Italian theme, we were served a very tasty spaghetti dish and an equally delicious tiramisu.    

As the evening progressed the sounds of thunder echoed around the cinema as one of the enormous storms that have been rolling around the South East and East Anglia over the last few days found its way to Framlingham. As the barn is not fully renovated yet, each lightning flash briefly lit the cracks between the roof tiles and, with perfect timing, one of them accompanied an explosion on screen.

We hoped that the storm would pass before we needed to head home but there was no let up to the torrential rain so we walked back down the pitch black and flooding road in a state of some nervousness. We were kindly offered a lift by the organisers but we were so wet that we declined for fear of soaking their car. Our way was, fortunately, lit by a torch lent to us by friends - without it we would have had to rely upon the lightning to help us find our way back.

It was an excellent evening; a great film choice, lovely food, excellent comfortable venue, tremendous value and good company. We're really looking forward to the next one The Thomas Crown Affair on Saturday 16th August - let's just hope that next time it's Little Lightning only in name.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

An Anniversary Dig

It's our 38th wedding anniversary today so, naturally, I went out with the metal detector and Marion went to have her hair done. But that doesn't mean we aren't celebrating. Last night we went to Jimmy's Farm for a meal and the fabulous Shakespeare performance that I reviewed on yesterday's blog.

The weather was glorious as forecast and I enjoyed a refreshing bottle of this. I haven't seen dandelion and burdock for years. It was a real favourite when I was a kid.

Marion looked as lovely as ever 38 years on from our big day. We're continuing our celebration tonight with a visit to The Crown here in Framlingham.

As for the detecting?

Here's what I turned out of the bag when I got home after four hours in the fields.

After getting rid of the rubbish I was left with this. It may not look a lot to those who are not into the hobby but there were some really nice and interesting finds.

This tiny medieval coin has a perfect portrait of the king (possibly Edward iv) but somebody has carefully clipped off all of the legend from the edges leaving a full identification well nigh impossible. Clipping coins was rife in medieval days but was a risky activity as penalties could be severe if you were caught.

Here's the other side of the coin.

Another medieval penny turned up. Sadly this one is not as clear but I think that it is probably Edward I.

This buckle could date anywhere between 1300 and 1600 but it's unusual to find one with its pin complete.

This is a small piece of horse harness decoration which I think dates to around 1600.

This weight is a real puzzle as I've been through 3500 photos of lead weights on the PAS database and not found another like it. My best guess is that it is post medieval but I will leave it to the archaeologists.

The thimble is certainly post medieval and probably falls into the modern period.

This stud was probably used as a harness decoration. There are some traces of silvering remaining. I think that it's from the medieval period.

Finally there is this strap fitting which again could date from medieval to post medieval times. In view of the coins and other finds it may well be at the earlier end of that scale.

So all in all a productive few hours. I've just taken delivery of a new (slightly larger) coil for the machine and look forward to trying it out soon. We're off to Bury St Edmunds on Monday to pick up Marion's new car so I'll drop the finds off with the archaeologist to get them recorded and make sure that my identifications are right