Friday, 26 August 2011

In Search Of The Holy Grail

Ask any metal detector user what they enjoy finding the most and the answer will invariably be hammered coins. They are something of a Holy Grail amongst detectorists and it's easy to see why - they are often tiny, usually silver, sometimes valuable and always old as they ceased producing them in the seventeenth century. Having found gold last week, I would have loved to return to the same field yesterday but long grass was against me and I decided to head south towards Shropshire and try and find something medieval. It's a bit of a drive but an early start saw me arrive at around 9am. It was a glorious morning and I was hoping for a good day on a stubble field that is near a deserted medieval village. The stubble was high and thick and the ground was hard and dry so a tough session was in prospect.

And boy was it tough going. I gave it a couple of hours but found nothing but a few cartridge cases and a fair bit of lead. I had made medieval finds on the field many years ago but holding the detector fairly high to cope with the stubble wasn't helping so after an early lunch I headed for another field. I've never searched this one before. It is right next to a farm house that dates in parts to the early middle ages. This field too was covered in stubble but the stubble was a different crop and much softer which allowed me to hold the detector closer to the ground.
Is there a field in the country that doesn't have this sort of rubbish in it?

I am the lead man

A few buttons and musket balls

This land was more productive and I started to find a few buttons plus a tiny mount or harness fitting as well as the usual bits of rubbish and three musket balls. A couple of the buttons date to the sixteenth or seventeenth century so I was finding some old bits. I found so many small pieces of lead that for some reason I got the Beatles' chorus "I am the egg man"changed to "I am the lead man" on a loop in my brain (it's a solitary hobby).  So the day wasn't a great success. But I kept looking at the ancient walls of the farm house and thinking that there just had to be some of those elusive hammered coins. 

They all count.

And sure enough, just as I was about to call it a day, this turned up. Having a hole in it so it could be worn as a pendant,  it's far from the greatest hammered coin you'll see but as someone said recently "they all count". And one nice touch is the inscription "ROSA SINE SPINA" which translates as " A ROSE WITHOUT THORNS". Our new granddaughter is called Rose so, when she is a bit older I will get a little silver chain for her and it can become a pendant again (won't she be thrilled). I think it is a penny of James I from 1604-1619 but please let me know if you think otherwise. The farmer tells me that he will be ploughing the stubble in a few weeks. It's a long way to go but perhaps if I go back on easier ground I might have a bit more luck.

We went to see "One Day" on Wednesday night. I like a good romance. Marion has read the book and she gave things away somewhat when at one point she reached into her handbag and pulled out a tissue before anything sad happened. It's not the happiest film you'll see but there are some funny moments and good performances from leads Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess although for me Rafe Spall in a supporting role stole the show. I don't think it will be winning many awards but it's gentle enough - the sort of thing you might watch on TV.

The final "Final Destination" is due out very soon. I think we've seen all the others (mind you, seen one, seen them all). Here's the trailer.