Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Getting Hammered

Whilst those readers who have been directed here from a link on one of the metal detecting forums will know what my headline alludes to, I must assure regular blog readers that this is not a reference to my embarrassing performance at last year's summer retirement party. No, it refers to what are known as hammered coins, so called as they were made by hammering a piece of metal (usually silver or gold) between two dies thus stamping them on both sides. They are something of a holy grail amongst detectorists and some even have a pet name for them (hammies) and we proudly proclaim how many we have found alongside our signatures in our forum posts -( or not in my case - until today that is).

It's been a fair few years since I found one of these elusive coins but equipped with my new XP Deus metal detector that has recently turned up twelve Roman coins and two brooches in fields that we had considered worked out, I was hopeful of breaking that duck. With my favourite fields either full of cows or with the grass too long I had to literally seek pastures new today and I headed to North Lancashire to a farm I had not visited before. It's a bit remote but there is a Roman road running through the middle of the fields that I had permission to search and I figured that a couple of Roman navvies might have lost something while they were on their break or maybe something had fallen from a chariot or cart into the fields.

Sadly there was no trace of the Romans and almost all I had to show for my labour was this motley collection of buttons, buckles, shotgun cartridge cases, horseshoes and a few old copper coins that were worn beyond recognition but probably Victorian. Apart from the coins and buckles the signals were not ones that I would normally dig but, as they were few and far between I dug whenever the machine beeped unless iron was an absolute certainty. But all was not lost. Halfway through the day, just as I was anticipating my ham buttty and a packet of crisps, the machine gave a delightful high pitched signal that was definitely not a cartridge case. I dug down to hit a huge rock. The pinpointing probe indicated that the item was beneath the rock which was good news and suggested something pretty old. After widening the hole sufficiently to be able to prize the mini boulder out and dig another small spade full of soil, there was the unmistakeable glint of silver. I saw the coat of arms and knew immediately that it was a hammered coin - at last.

It's a shilling from the reign of Charles I as far as I can tell. It would have been in great condition if somebody hadn't clipped it around the edges and a bit of a loss for the finder having the spending power of about a fiver today according to the National Archives currency convertor. It's not worth much in this condition but a nice addition to my display. I set out with the aim of just one displayable item per trip so it was a case of mission accomplished.

So I've found a hammered coin for the first time since retiring and I hope that it's a foretaste of things to come. I need to decide where to go next week now. There's half a mile of fields available on this farm but it wasn't a huge return from the day, although in beautiful weather and with superb views I think I may be tempted to give the fields another go.

Bad news for this lamb that I came across today. It hadn't been dead long and hadn't been killed by a fox or other animal as it's body was untouched. As it was at the foot of a telegraph pole I wonder if it was struck by lightning. There were some almighty downpours in the area over the weekend but I don't know if there was any thunder. 

Orange Wednesday tomorrow and, yet again, our film of choice is not showing at the local multiplex so, in order to see Senna, it's another visit to FACT in Liverpool . Not that I mind. I enjoy going to FACT it's a great little indie cinema, comfortable, friendly and with a decent cafe and bar.

Here's a taster. Wonder if Lewis Hamilton was watching this before his performance at the weekend.