Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Another Day In The Fields

The glorious sunshine of the weekend continued over into Monday so what better was was there for me to spend it than by getting out with the detector again. When I lived in Southport I would often get up at six before heading up the M6 to detect fields in the Yorkshire Dales or Cumbria. Here I have the luxury of a lie in and a decent breakfast and I can be out in the fresh air swinging the XP Deus ten or fifteen minutes later.

I've been going back to the same field for a few weeks after finding a couple of medieval coins on my first visit and a Bronze Age gold fragment on another. After four visits you might think that I had covered the whole site but in reality I have barely scratched at the surface as it is an enormous field. I wasted the first three hours yesterday carefully going over the area where the gold turned up although it would not have been a waste if I had found more. When I was sure that I had covered the area completely I set off wandering across the site pretty much at random and the signals started to appear.

And this is what turned up. It's not a particularly exciting collection but it's almost fifty more small metal items and any one of them could have turned out to be something good. Although there's nothing spectacular most are interesting and all have their own story.

They show us that people have hunted in the field for centuries (which is hardly surprising as there are signs of a healthy rabbit  population.

About six or seven hundred years ago someone's belt came undone. It was probably a mundane and simple bit of wear and tear  that caused the buckle to break but what if it was the result of amorous liaison and passionate rush to disrobe?

In the 1800's these lead bag seals were taken from bags of flax and hemp. Some of them came from as far afield as Russia. I've found a lot of these in this field.

The usual selection of near unidentifiable copper coins turned up. A couple of these are likely to be Scottish bawbees which is hardly surprising being a Scottish field. One is Victorian, one is from William IV and the others are anybody's guess.

This knob came from a 17th or 18th century tobacco jar. 

I've no idea what this tiny link was for.

These scraps are effectively bits of rubbish but I think that one could once have mended a pot and the others must have their own stories too.

And then there was my favourite find of the day (no I haven't got some strange skin complaint, I was wearing rubber gloves to save my hands getting ingrained with mud). It's another cut half penny. As yet it's not identified although it has been tentatively suggested to me that it is from the realm of King John. It was definitely minted in London. Now it may look like a tiny scrap to you and I but to the person who lost it it was a true loss. As a percentage of average earnings this tiny coin was worth the equivalent of over £25 in today's money and I can imagine a poor medieval farm worker scrabbling around in the dirt  looking for what really was a needle in a haystack for someone without a detector.

I love finding these tiny coins and imagining the circumstances in which they were lost. I hope that I can get another visit in before the field is re-sown.