Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Back in time at the beach

Christmas done, DIY done, finally a trip to the beach.

Arriving at the beach it was a lovely sunny day, no wind, no other folks about. Lovely.

About 90 minutes later I hadn't found didly, apart from random small bits of copper. Still was great just being out so decided to carry on. About 30 minutes later I came hit my first coin, a 1949 six pence. I then proceeded to dig out quite a few more coins in the same area of the beach. Weirdly they all dated from around 1940 to 1960. Nothing decimal at all. Still shouldn't be that surprised as this beach seems to be decimal up one end and then gradually gets older (oldest coin i've found there is 1870 something). 

Happy with my little pre-decimal hoard I carried on when I got a lovely loud 'ding ding' two bars from the top of my euro-ace. I didn't need to dig as laying on the ground was what seems to be a gold signet ring. Bit of an odd one in that I don't know if it's solid or just gold plated. There isn't a hallmark and it's rather cruddy inside. Still have popped up a post on The Metal Detecting Forum so hopefully somebody will know more than I which when it comes to gold ain't hard.

I carried on for another hour so and found a pound coin and a 10 pence piece before deciding to head home. All in all a lovely 4 hours out.

Whilst I haven't done much beach detecting at all one thing I often find is that where you find one coin you will often find more close by so always have a good look around the hole.

Have a good new year all.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas


Would just like to wish all readers a Happy Christmas and New Year. Will start blogging again over Christmas!


Monday, 22 September 2014

Who's inside the Tomb?

An interesting article on the BBC about an excavation in Greece.


Can't blame the locals for wanting it to be Alexander the Great. Hopefully the team are filming it all for a future documentary.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Woo some land

Haven't posted for the last 4 months as well life's been busy and I haven't really had any land to go on that i haven't done a lot (my fault as I haven't really looked!)

Anyway thanks to a kind offer of a work colleague I now have 12 acres to do so hopefully there will be more posts soon.


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Meeting the heritage crime officer

So today I travelled to Battle in East Sussex to meet with PC Daryl Holter who is one of the Heritage crime officers who cover both East and West Sussex. Unfortunately the chief inspector couldn't make it as he'd been called away but i had an excellent chat with Daryl about all things Heritage crime.

As I understand it Sussex Police have only had Heritage Crime officers, who do have other non Heritage Crime duties to, for 18 months so they are a fairly new team.

At the moment the teams focus is on spreading awareness of what Heritage Crime is amongst the residents of Sussex by going out and about meeting farmers, archaeologists, PAS staff, detectorists etc. At the moment reports of Heritage Crime are quite low but at it's impossible to know how much of this is down to the public's lack of knowledge about what Heritage Crime might be and that they can ring 101 or indeed 999 if they want to report an incident. The ringing 999 point is interesting as it was Daryl's view that should one see someone detecting let us say next to Battle Abbey then they would want to respond as quickly as possible and that Heritage Crime should be treated just like any other crime.

Daryl's experience of nighthawkers was that they fell into two categories, the ignorant and the more 'professional' dedicated nighthawker. Part of his job is therefore to educate the ignorant as to why they can't just detect where-ever they want. I think the job of education is something that responsible detectorists, detecting groups, NCMD, PAS and detector manufacturers etc can all perhaps do more to help with.

 With the more professional nighthawkers it's trickier as whilst it is a case of evidence and intelligence gathering it's not always possible to get enough evidence for a prosecution. However having a word with a possible suspect to let them know they are on the Police's radar can be an effective way of getting them to stop. Daryl did however say that they have had very few reports of nighthawking, but again it's difficult to know the reasons behind this.

With regard to information on a nighthawking crime scene Sussex Police work closely with County archaeologists and the local FLO who help out with regards to information about the area that affected with regards to it's history and to identify what may have been found on the suspect.

It was interesting to learn about the different types of crime they have to deal with especially a spate of post box thefts. Apparently some of the old post boxes can be worth hundreds or thousands of pounds and are stolen to order for people who want them as an ornamental 'feature'.

We did briefly discuss licensing and this wasn't something that they had considered.

Daryl kindly gave me the contact for my local Heritage Crime officer so I will be in touch with them next to see what's happening on my doorstep!

All in all a good day.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Some gold at the beach

So I went to the beach with my little man on Saturday as it was a lovely day. He's only just turned 4 so it's nice to take him to the beach to do some 'treasure hunting' together. He likes it when daddy gets a signal so he can help dig the hole. We usually only about an hour together and as the hour usually involves other playing such as 'running away from the sea' and throwing stones in the sea we only usually dig about 10 or 15 holes.

Well the first hole we dug together had a pound coin in it (which later got spent on the postman pat ride in the arcade).

The second hole had the below in it. Was rather surprised to say the least!

I'm not sure how the old ring is. It could be 1861 or 1936 or something else. I believe the maker is Samuel Hill although I'm slightly confused as to whether Samuel Hill is the same as H Samuel the high street jeweller so any assistance greatly received! It certainly looks like it has been through the wars.

We then proceeded to dig out some more pound coins and quite oddly 6 pre-decimal sixpences and a nice button after which we were both quite hot and so went for some sausages and chips at the cafe which is his favorite. 

Lovely day.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Little thread on detectorists and farmers

Just came across the following thread about some farmers views on detectorists. Was interesting. Shame to see some farmers having such poor experiences with some detecting morons.


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

First face to face permission request

Driving back from a meeting today I saw a farm shop advertising its apple juice. Being a lover of apple juice I popped in to buy some. I also plucked up the courage to ask the farmer for permission to detect. He didn't say no and asked for my details so fingers crossed.

This was the first time I've done a face to face ask and it was kind of scary. I found myself waffling about how I do try my best to be a responsible detectorist and that everything that I find is his so he can set the terms for what to do with the finds etc.

Ah well, am prepared for a lot of no's but if you don't ask then you don't get and I've been whinging about the fact I could do with some more places so figured I should stop and get out there and get some.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

So putting your hand on it and pulling isn't good?

'bleep, bleep'

or in the case of my euroace

'ding, ding'

Dig, dig, dig

See something poking out the side / bottom of the hole

Put your hand around said object and pull

Bugger it broke.

Now I have to admit that I've broken objects in my haste to see what they are. I imagine that other detectorists have done the same.

Fortunately I haven't broken anything particularly valuable but I'm rather ashamed of the fact I've broken anything and also aware that I don't actually know how to dig something out properly if required.

With this in mind I've popped myself on a day course at The Sussex School of Archaeology entitled 'First Aid for Finds'. At £40 I didn't think this was to bad for a day course and hopefully I might learn something about digging and conserving finds (yes I'm aware isn't all going to be metal).

Does this mean if I ever find a hoard I'll dig it out myself, nope. Leave that to the experts.

I just want to be slightly less inept at digging and conserving stuff!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

A hammered day, whopee

Thanks to a kind offer from the missus I managed to get in some detecting time today. I was undecided where to go but eventually decided on a local park where I have a licence to detect. The fun thing about this parks is that you certainly get a lot of signals. The not so fun thing about this park is that most of the signals tend to be this

After about 20 ring pulls I got another signal which was 3 bars from the top like all the ring pulls. Oh well 1 less ring pull to find later I thought as I dug the hole. 

'Well I'll be' I thought to myself as I poked around in the hole as looking back at me was a little silver coin. Looked like a chunk had been taken out of it but there was the unmistakable writing around the edge of a hammered coin. 

I love the feeling of finding something unexpected, it's a definite buzz that makes you forget about all the cr*p that you find.

Anyway so I gently took it out the hole and saw it was a nice little Elizabeth I sixpence (I think!) dated 1580. The detail on it is great and whilst it's a shame it's damaged I don't really care as I won't be selling it anyway. It's also my first Lizzy sixpence.

Spurred on by the hammy I carried on for another 3 hours or so and had a good time but no more hammy's not that I was really expecting one! I did find a nice little old buckle piece (another for the Finds Liaison Officer, FLO, box), a musket ball, a ring (which sadly is costume jewelry), a weird thing that almost looks like a bicycle brake (another for the FLO to look at) and some pre and post decimal coins. Oh and a whole lot of ring pulls.

A lot of folks don't like doing parks because of the general public, I can understand this, but actually I quite chatting to people who have always been polite and interested. 

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Some questions about archaeological recording

I was reading a post on The Heritage Journal in regard to the archaeological 'clearance' of a Bronze Age Pond Barrow.

The BBC article linked in the post mentions that

'Archaeologists spent three years excavating it and found thousands of items and remains, indicating the site had been continuously lived on since the end of the last ice age.'
Now apologies for being ignorant but when, presumably commercial, archaeologists come in to do these sorts of excavations how do they usually share their findings? Am I being presumptuous in thinking that they do have to share their findings? Also where do all the thousands of items and remains go?
I appreciate the article says that a synopsis of the findings would go on an information board but I was just wondering where the whole report and all of the finds go.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

ebay and recording

Now I've never sold anything on ebay but as my partner is always on it I thought I'd have a browse. Out of curiosity I thought I'd have a look if there were any similar beehive thimbles to the one I found a few weeks ago. A quick search and blimey there are a whole lot of thimbles for sale including some just like mine up for sale at the moment.

One seller called 'field-walker' currently has one up for £15. This certainly doesn't seem to be too cheap given that another one is currently at £12.50 with 12 bids. (these links might die when the auctions expire).

Firstly I never actually thought my thimble would be worth anything other than historic value (which is why it's currently in the Finds Liasion Officer, FLO, box). Am I sad that it's worth money, nope. Will I now sell it rather than get it recorded with the PAS, nope. Will I sell it afterwards. Not unless I have to.

I then had a little look at other items that 'field-walker' had for sale. One included a hawking whistle.
It had a description as follows.

You are looking at what I think is a small Medieval Hawking whistle, please feel free to research for yourself if bidding as I am not an expert, I will post on cleared payment.
Happy bidding Guys.
A couple of things came to mind when I read this.
Has field-walker tried to record the item with their Finds Liasion Officer? One cannot presume they did not as the FLO may have decided to not to record it although I'd think this would be very odd if it is a 300 plus year old hawking whistle which is hardly the same as a common buckle.
If they did not then I would have thought that by doing so then at least they would have a better description which might actually mean it's worth more. Secondly it would at least be recorded rather than be sold and probably be lost forever.
'Who cares, it's just something that was lost, discarded etc' I hear a lot of people think. Maybe true but what happens if someone else finds a whistle near to where that one was found, and then a few more turn up. Let's say there were 10 or 20 or 30 scattered across nearby fields all found at different times. This might mean something interesting, something to look into, but if they aren't recorded how would anyone know?
I would just say to any detectorists reading this then please show your FLO any items that you think might be over 300 years old (if you are unsure show them anyway) and as Steve Broom on his blog says if they can't record them now then hold onto them until they can.
These things are usually only found once.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

5 tasks in - Micropasts part 2

I've just been playing around on the Micropasts website as mentioned in my previous comment. I've so far done 5 tasks of the photomasking project which don't take more than a couple of minutes each. I did look at the other 3 projects which involve transcribing old record cards but well they looked a bit harder than the drawing project so I've been lazy, for the moment.

It doesn't take more than a few  minutes to get going with the photomasking project and well it's something to do while watching the TV.  

There are a few functionality issues that could be improved on but that's probably to be expected from a new website and there is a forum where you can log these errors and chat about your experiences. 

It might be tempting to think I'm being a wannabe archaeologist by getting involved in the Micropasts project but actually just as the project says it's open to all and well it's actually just quite interesting, although looking forward to seeing some more projects open up.

Given that Museums must have an absolute shed load of paper records and items waiting to be made more accessible by being 'computerised' (yes not really a word I know) then I imagine there are lots of projects to be completed.

Monday, 28 April 2014


The blog Artefactsandarchaeology has a post about a project called MicroPasts which it seems was officially launched this month.

As per their website MicroPasts is

'a web platform that brings together full-time academic researchers, volunteer archaeological and historical societies and other interested members of the public to collaborate on new kinds of research about archaeology, history and heritage. It is a place where enthusiasts (of any background) can not only create high-quality research data together, but also collaboratively design and fund entirely new research projects. In particular, we want to improve how people traditionally distinguished as ‘academics’, ‘professionals’ and ‘volunteers’ cooperate with one another (as well as with other people out there who as yet have no more than a passing interest).'

From a brief little play on my lunch break it seems that you can join in with archaeological research from the comfort of your own sofa.

I note that the PAS has the project on it's website as well as I would imagine they both work closely together. Certainly how MicroPasts aim of getting people to cooperate with one another will be interesting.

Another of MicroPasts aims is to be a crowd funding site for small projects. This part is under development but I look forward to reading the sales pitches.

I imagine these sorts of projects require a lot of word of mouth marketing to be successful so well here's my part!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

I found it, so I can keep it, right?

On the Metal Detecting Forum is an interesting thread about whether you should sell stuff that you find.

It would appear that some detectorists think that if they have permission from the landowner to go and detect on their land that anything they find is theirs to do with what they may, including selling the find if they want. 

I believe this assumption is incorrect. Just because you have permission to detect metal doesn't mean that any metal you find is automatically then yours. 


Well in short then from digging around I think the simple answer is that if you own land then you also own everything in the land regardless of how it ended up in the land. This comes from a case called Elwes v Brigg Gas Co. (1886) 33 Ch.D 562 where the Judge, Chitty J, stated that lawful possession of land includes possession of everything in the land, naturally there or otherwise.

As such if a landowner gives someone permission to detect, or 'find', metal items on their land then that person, or 'metal detectorist' is merely finding what is the land owners. Just because the 'metal detectorist' has permission to find and dig,  it doesn't mean they have permission to 'take away'. 

If you are the 'metal detectorist' then if you have not entered into an agreement with the landowner that anything you find is yours then the find belongs to the landowner. 

Without such an agreement it doesn't stop the landowner letting the metal detectorist sell the item on say a 50/50 share basis. 

The ownership of property found in or on land is discussed in depth in Waverley BC v Fletcher 1996. This is a story about a chap who went detecting on a Council park and found a gold brooch. He thought the brooch was his, the Council thought otherwise. He went to the County Court and won his case. The Council then went to the Court of Appeal and won. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Camber Sands hoard

Just got back from a week in Camber Sands with the partner and the little man. I had hoped to do some blogging but on arriving at our rented house I soon found out there wasn't any wifi. Ooops. In hindsight though it was actually rather nice to be free from the shackles of the internet.

Being that Camber Sands is a Crown Estate beach I thought I would take my euroace with me on the off chance that I might grab an hour or two detecting time. 

The weather was great and on Easter Monday I grabbed a few hours in the evening. I've never detected a sandy beach before and it was nice being able to get the targets easily. Unfortunately that was about the only good point as the two hours consisted of mainly ring pulls, bottle tops and cans. I think I spent half of my detecting time trying to find a bin to put the next newly discovered can into. 

I did manage to dig out the following mighty hoard. 

Yup 3p. I tried not to spend it all at once. It was tricky.

Anyway a fab very relaxing week.
Dymchurch beach
Me and my little dude

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Some finds from a park

One of my Local Councils allows you to metal detect on certain bits of their land with a free licence. Hrm as I'm writing this I'm wondering why I'm not saying which Council. Fear of some other detectorists ruining it? Selfishness? Not sure. Probably both.

Anyway one of the bits of land is near to where I often go to work. It consists of a number of old fields that were regularly ploughed till the 20th century when they were gifted to the Council as a park.

It makes for some interesting detecting. It was used for bonfire nights for quite some time until the health and safety folks stopped it so there is a fair amount of old decimal coinage, big 50 pences, decimal half pennies etc. There is also a zillion ring pulls. However there are also some older bits. I haven't done it much but have found a crotal bell and an old buckle,as below, in the past both of which have been recorded with the FLO.

Last week I found the below. No.6 I believe is a 'beehive thimble' (more info on thimbles here) which could be from the 12th Century onwards and No.7 is a part of a sword belt mount.

Since I started this blog I wonder if I should carry on detecting the park.

There are a number of things floating around my mind as to what a responsible detectorist would do. Some of these thoughts are, in no order of priority the following.

1. I don't have a lot of land to detect so would do ploughed if I could but don't have any.
2. Anyone with a permit can detect on it and it has been detected on before
3. If I make a little slide and show it to the 'Friends of the Park' would that be a 'good' thing to do?
4. At least I get the bits that I find recorded whereas others might not.
5. I make damn sure i'm neat and tidy when I dig my holes.
6. Should I just stop thinking and just carry on detecting!

Oh yes one question for the Archaeologists who don't like detecting because it takes an item out of 'context'. Let's say a local archaeology group came in, dug a pit and did their Archie stuff, is it then any better to detect or should you then leave the rest of the field in case the entire park is subject to a archaeological dig?

Life is easier when you don't think.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

If you saw

If you saw a metal detectorist detecting on an Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) would you

a) Call 101
b) ignore them
c) inform them it's an SSSI and hope they move on
d) ask them what they've found.

Thinking about why you would take a particular action is quite interesting.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Elizabeth I and coinage

To all you hammered coin lovers, like me, an interesting article of coinage in the time of Elizabeth I.

Spotted on the BAJR Facebook page.

Rewards for Treasure finding

Janner53 posted an interesting piece on a gentleman called Steven Walker who was unhappy with his £550 reward for a Bronze Age axe and 4 gold rings. Steven and the thought the valuation should be more.

[65] - [70] of The Treasure Act Code of Guidance lay out the guidelines for the valuation of Treasure.

Janner's article was picked up by Paul Barford and The Modern Antiquarian.

For me Janner's article and subsequent discussions raise a number of points to consider (Mr Anonymous I am again considering the points not making one, there is a difference).

1. Why was there such a difference in valuations? The Treasure Valuation Committee came to a decision that was considerably lower than the finder and Suffolk Archaeology Service. I'm not saying this is right or wrong merely that it would be interesting to know the reasoning behind the decision. I understand the views that metal detectorists should be happy with anything they get, however as it stands this is not what the Code of Practice says at [65]

'...taking account of all relevant factors, to what may be paid for the object(s) in a sale on the open market between a willing seller and a willing buyer; '

Again and for the avoidance of doubt I am not saying he should have been paid more. I am merely interested to see how the decision was come as it would be interesting to know if there is any possible merit in the argument that the TVC are coming to lower Treasure Valuation decisions because they think that 'metal detectorists should be happy with anything they get.' which I do not believe can be considered a relevant factor as per [65] (happy to be corrected here).

If the Government / society isn't happy with the amount of money being paid out on Treasure finds then perhaps the Code should be adjusted appropriately. This is opposed to the TVC lowering rewards on the sly IF (very big IF) this is happening.

2. Are rewards entirely discretionary? Both Paul Barford and Nigel Swift make the point that detectorists should also be happy with anything they get because detectorists are not entitled to any reward. Paul says that rewards are 'entirely discretionary'. I have to say that when I first started detecting I thought that I was entitled to a reward.

Reading through the Treasure Act Code of Guidance and Treasure Act 1996 I think it is more a case of fettered discretion as entirely discretionary to me implies the SoS can do what they like, free from any constraints, when deciding when considering whether or not to pay a reward.

The Treasure Act states the following,

10 Rewards.

(2)The Secretary of State must determine whether a reward is to be paid by the museum before the transfer

(7)In a determination under this section, the Secretary of State must take into account anything relevant in the code of practice issued under section 11.

11 Codes of practice.

(1)The Secretary of State must

(a)prepare a code of practice relating to treasure;

(b)keep the code under review; and

(c)revise it when appropriate.

(2)The code must, in particular, set out the principles and practice to be followed by the Secretary of State

(a)when considering to whom treasure should be offered;

(b)when making a determination under section 10; and

(c)where the Crown's title to treasure is disclaimed.

This seems to show that the Secretary of State must take into account anything relevant the Code of Practice says before deciding whether to pay a reward.

[71] of The Code states that

The paramount objective in the payment of ex gratia rewards for finds of treasure is to encourage the reporting of finds and to ensure that there are adequate incentives to finders while at the same time discouraging wrong behaviour
This would seem something that the SoS should take into account when exercising his discretion.
Also [84] states that

...In making its recommendations, the Committee shall seek to find a balance between the objective of rewards to encourage the prompt and proper reporting of finds, and the need for rewards not in themselves to provide an incentive for illegal or improper behaviour

I have to say I didn't find 63 [7] very helpful when it said mentioned a 'right to reward' but maybe this was referring to the fact that at the stage the SoS would have come to a decision that a reward should be paid.

63 (7) If finders and anyone else with an interest in the find wish to waive their right to a reward on condition that the find is deposited in a particular registered museum, their wishes will be taken into account.

So it seems that I'm not legally entitled to a reward as I first thought, however it would seem that there would have to be a good reason for SoS to decide that I was not entitled to a reward (which could then be abated if I had say destroyed the find site).  I wonder if the SoS has ever determined that a reward should not be offered.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Anonymous comments

I'm thinking about banning anonymous comments. They just seem a bit 'trolly' really. Being new to this blogging malarkey it's difficult to know whether to invite all comments no matter how little they bring or not. Blah.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The HMS Victory

Over on  Stout Standards I was reading an interesting piece entitled 'Treasure Hunting at its very best' on the recovery of bullion from the SS gairsoppa, the bullion consisted of 1574 silver ingots weighing about 1,100 ounces each. To a bloke who thinks a silver half crown is a lot of silver that's a whole lot of treasure.

The SS Gairsoppa was discovered by an organisation called Odyssey Marine Exploration.

Odyssey Marine Exploration (OME) have apparently pioneered what they call 'commercial marine archaeology'.  

Amongst their other discoveries is HMS Victory (not the HMS Victory that was Nelson's flagship).

 It would appear that the wreck was found in May 2008 by OME and this was announced on 1 February 2009. HMS Victory was at the time property of the British Government but was gifted to the Maritime Heritage Foundation in January 2012 (Heritage Daily investigation in the whole affair here). The Maritime Heritage Foundation was created and is chaired by Lord Lingfield, a Conservative Peer. Claims had been made that Lord Lingfield was a descendant of Admiral Balchen, who went down with the HMS Victory along with the crew of about 1150, but it appears that these claims may be false (1150 crew on a 250 odd year old ship is amazing in itself to me).

There are now plans to salvage items from the Victory although they are awaiting ministerial approval something which may not be forthcoming given that Admiral Balchen's actual descendant Richard Temple West and many others are concerned about the commercial exploitation of a war grave. Furthermore OME may have been rather naughty in exploring the wreck without a licence.

OME has been in the Courts before after unlawfully retrieving 17 tonnes of gold and silver from a Spanish Wreck.

I do wonder if there really is there any archaeological benefit in salvaging the items from the HMS Victory or if Treasure Hunting really is the only motive.

Whilst some of this might be old news in the light of the furore over the Nazi War Diggers I thought the story of the HMS Victory is an interesting one as both tales involve disturbing the dead to find artifacts.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Questions for the heritage crime officer

Got the ok for my meeting with the heritage crime officer and his boss today which I'm quite excited about. My idea was to ask more about heritage crime in Sussex including how much of a problem it might be and what sort of things the officers have to deal with. I'm also interested in how hard they find it to prosecute and what the Community can do to help.

I appreciate that illegal metal detecting is only one type of heritage crime but given that many detectorists go out in the field then it would be good to know what sort of dodgy activity to look out for and report including dodgy metal detectorists!

If anyone has any suggestions about what sort of questions you would ask if you were meeting with a couple of heritage crime officers then please let me know.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

PAS Job vacancy

I was just browsing the PAS site when I noticed a job being advertised via their Twitter feed.

A few clicks later I saw the PAS are recruiting for a Finds Liaison Assistant for Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside funded by the Headley Trust. I'd never heard of a Finds Liaison Assistant or the Headley Trust and it was interesting to read that the Headley Trust is one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. As their website states it recognises the problems that Museums can have in purchasing Treasure finds.  

As I stated in a previous post one of the main reasons I first started detecting was the dream of finding Treasure, preferably mega valuable treasure at that. The fact that Museums may well need charitable help to purchase such Treasure had never really crossed my mind. 

I can't say, sitting here now on my sofa, that if I found Treasure that I would waive the reward but it's something to ponder as if the Trust don't have to spend their money helping Museum's buy Treasure finds then maybe more of it would be available to fund such posts.

It was also interesting to see that the PAS also need such charitable donations to help them reduce their backlog of finds. 

Maybe all detectorists should have to be 'members' of the PAS and pay £10 or something a year which would help fund more FLO's. Ok just a random thought really. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Treasure Valuation Committee members wanted

Committee members are wanted for the Treasure Valuation Committee. Details here. closing date 25th April 2014.

Whilst they seek someone to represent the views of finders, especially metal detectorists they don't want you to use a metal detector whilst a Committee member. This is discussed on the Metal Detecting Forum here where I read the news first.

Just a bear?

Slightly off topic but on Sunday I had a different form of detecting session. I took my 3 year old out for the day and we went out for some food, a walk and then to a local farm shop.

As we got home he asks 'where's Alfie?' his favourite bear. 'Oh god'. So I drive back to all the places we had visited but no bear. He spends Sunday night sobbing himself to sleep. We desperately try to see if there are any similar bears on the internet to buy as whilst it wouldn't be the same it might help, however no joy.

On monday morning as the farm shop had been closed I drive back there but no bear, again.

I get home and as I'm walking down our street on the phone to my partner giving her the bad news I see a little brown bundle, sodden, sitting on a wall. It's Alfie.

All is well with the world.

To many that bear is just a tatty old thing. To my little man he's everything.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Think I hit the dump

Was out detecting for a few hours yesterday. Went into a little forested bit of the permission and found what has to be their old dumping ground. only dug a few bits that were pretty much on the surface. Oddly I found myself thinking the Local archaeology club might like to dig it. Must be this blogs influence as never thought such things before.

Found a nice little brown bottle laying on the surface and a piece of broken pottery to try and identify seems to say 'dogrose'. also found what looks like a door knob or something and an old bit of a clip perhaps. I shall pop them up on a metal detecting forum as there are lots of kind folks who will help identify things.                                                                   


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Metal Detecting For Beginners - Insurance

So you've bought your metal detector and want to get out into the field that you've secured permission to detect on.Wait a moment. What happens if you accidentally put your spade through a water pipe or telephone cable? Could be expensive!

Hrm this might cost me a bit
For the price of a few pints of beer you can get insurance to help pay for any unfortunate expenses you might occur in the course of your metal detecting.

The National Council Of Metal Detecting (NCMD) will insure you for just 8 quid a year. Not only do you get insured but you become a member of the Official Representative body for Metal Detectorists and a newsletter.

If you are thinking about joining a metal detecting club then they will probably want you to be insured to

Thursday, 3 April 2014

There is no versus.

Deep Digger Dan is a popular detectorist. He has 47k odd subscribers and over 200 odd videos. A lot of people listen to what he says. He represent's for the want of a better word a lot of detectorists. On 1st April 2014 Dan had put out a video about detectorists vs archaeologists.

There are over 100 comments on the video. There is also discussion about the video on Detecting Wales and Paul Barford's blog.

From my experience I do not share Dan's point of view.

I don't believe there is any archaeologists vs detectorists war nor should there be. What there should be more of is debate regarding how metal detectorists can best work with archaeologists and vice versa with the realisation that detectorists and archaeologists are not completely separate homogeneous groups.

Where I disagree with Dan is that I think that if an archaeologist is going to spend years studying the best way to conserve history then they deserve the respect that their studies bring. Whilst they might not be right, just because they criticise some detectorist's practices doesn't mean they are all being 'snooty'.

Many detectorists spend half an hour buying a detector and then say they are 'conserving history'. Isn't an archaeologist entitled to wonder and question just how they think they are doing this?

What Dan does not discuss is the fact that, nighthawkers aside, detectorists are not the same. Many detectorists don't report treasure finds, many don't care about the plough line, many don't show their Finds Liaison Officer their finds over 300 years old, those who think an SSSI is some sort of sexually transmitted disease and the many don't give a stuff about anything that isn't silver or gold. It is right to question if these practices make for 'bad' detectorists only marginally below nighthawkers.

An archaeologist or indeed a fellow detectorist should therefore be able to show what metal detecting practices are not exactly 'conserving history' or that 'history hunting' with a metal detector might not actually be in the best interests of society without being accused of starting a war or breaking some weird unwritten tribal metal detecting code.

Just as an archaeologist can ask questions of detectorists practices then so to a detectorist is free to ask questions of an archaeologist and in my experience the responses to such questions have been fair and respectful. No war at all.

Many archaeologists will recognise that many of the recent hoards that have been found have been through metal detecting. Great this is just one point, it does not in my opinion justify the wholesale failure to record 1000's of other items as maybe society has lost more with these unrecorded items?

It is not a simple question of archaeologists vs detectorists as there is no us and them,I think there are just differently weighted perspectives on what constitutes the best way to conserve history. Perhaps the more we as metal detectorists learn the more weight our arguments might hold?

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Metal Detecting for beginners - Treasure

Whilst in UK it is lawful to buy a metal detector and then with the landowners permission go out metal detecting there are laws for what you have to do with some of the stuff you find. The below applies to finds made in England and Wales. Northern Ireland and Scotland have there own rules


The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) gives the definition of treasure as

  • Any metallic object, other than a coin, provided that at least 10 per cent by weight of metal is precious metal (that is, gold or silver) and that it is at least 300 years old when found. If the object is of prehistoric date it will be Treasure provided any part of it is precious metal.
  • Any group of two or more metallic objects of any composition of prehistoric date that come from the same find (see below)
  • Two or more coins from the same find provided they are at least 300 years old when found and contain 10 per cent gold or silver (if the coins contain less than 10 per cent of gold or silver there must be at least ten of them). Only the following groups of coins will normally be regarded as coming from the same find: Hoards that have been deliberately hidden; Smaller groups of coins, such as the contents of purses, that may been dropped or lost; Votive or ritual deposits.
  • Any object, whatever it is made of, that is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, another object that is Treasure.

Any object that would previously have been treasure trove, but does not fall within the specific categories given above. Only objects that are less than 300 years old, that are made substantially of gold or silver, that have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery and whose owners or heirs are unknown will come into this category.

Note:An object or coin is part of the'same find' as another object or coin if it is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, the other object. Finds may have become scattered since they were originally deposited in the ground.

If you think you've found the holy grail, a Saxon gold ring or medieval silver buckle then you can't just sell it as the item may be considered Treasure which in effect means the item or items are to historically important to belong to you and should belong to the nation. The UK is good enough to reward you for finding treasure (you can waive this), but if you don't follow the Law and guidance on finding treasure that reward might be reduced or taken away completely.

The Treasure Act 1996 sets out the Law regarding Treasure. The Code of Practice that goes with the Treasure Act sets gives the full in depth guidance as to what you should do if you find what you think might be Treasure. The PAS website has a shorter leaflet for what you should do if you find treasure.

The first and most important step is that any possible treasure find MUST be reported to the Local Coroner within 14 days, this is usually done by contacting your local Finds Liaison Officer (FLO), do that and you've made the first start in recording your possible treasure item. You could face a £5000 fine and / or 6 months imprisonment if you don't report a find.

If you are out digging and come across what might be a hoard, say a container full of silver coins, then you should stop digging and call your Local FLO. If they aren't in try the British Museum or a different FLO. Contact details can be found here or on the PAS leaflet. Why should you do this? Well because if you just dig the container out the ground the 'context' of the find will be lost. IE it may be harder to tell how it got there in the first place or who put it there and as such it would be better if your find is removed by trained archaeologists (don't worry you'll still be considered the finder even if they find other bits whilst they are digging).

Why should you care? Well if you don't you shouldn't be detecting but ultimately if you do just hoick it out then you may have your reward taken away from you for irresponsible.

If you've gone to the effort of buying a detector and securing permission for land to detect on then you can spend an hour learning what you should do if you find what might be treasure.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Update on the PAS Volunteer expansion lottery bid

Further to my post about the PAS's bid to expand its volunteer base here I have received a response from Claire at the PAS who is happy for me to publish her email which gives a bit more detail about the scheme.

We are currently developing a funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to widen the PAS volunteer base and reach new audiences in local areas, in the process increasing the PAS’ capacity to record finds. The PASt Explorers: finds recording in the local community project has passed the first round funding bid and we are now in the development phase, aiming to submit the second round bid in April and if we are successful, to start the project in November 2014.
The project aims to create community finds recording teams based around local FLOs. There will be one FLO who will act as lead FLO in a 'Regional Training Centre', covering several counties in an area, who will oversee activities. The teams will cover their local county and will help the local county FLO record finds and do other aspects of finds recording work, including outreach. The project will provide high standard training for the volunteers and we are currently developing this training programme. The idea is that the volunteer teams will eventually be able to look after themselves, guided by one person appointed as lead volunteer in the project but ultimately steered by the local and lead FLOs and also that the volunteers are equipped with new skills. As part of the project we will also be developing an online resource, the County Pages, which will be a part of the PAS website devoted to finds recording in the county by the volunteers. We will be including self-recorders and detecting club reps who wish to record their clubs finds as volunteers in the project, which means that they will also be able to access training and support in recording their finds.

As part of the development phase we are currently running a pilot project in Leicestershire to establish how the project could work practically and to assess what resources we will need longer term. The pilot project has been working very well, with the FLO and volunteers getting a lot out of the project.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Pottery identification

As previously confessed I've always been rather ignorant of all things non metal. I still don't know whether learning more about non metal stuff makes me a more responsible detectorist but if it means not walking over a PAS recordable piece of pottery or worked flint then I guess this is a good thing.

Hrm second thoughts in that I'm guessing its a good thing but now I'm worried that archaeologists might tell me I shouldn't pick up these bits as it might ruin a proper field walking survey which may theoretically be done at some point in the future.

Ah sod it I think learning more about non metal things is a good thing and as I'm finding it interesting I shall carry on. On which note I came across a really handy site with some great downloadable for personal use sheets on pottery identification. I think I will print them off.

It would be great to find a hammered coin and similar age pottery in the same location and perhaps selfishly finding old pottery might lead to old metal. Is that bad?

Soil and Soil Colour

An interesting piece on soil and soil colour


Thanks to David Connolly for the link

Nazi War Diggers - Why I won't be watching

I've decided not to watch Nazi War Diggers. These are just three of my reasons.

1. The title Nazi War Diggers. This seems to be just a sensationalist title to that seems to merely promote interest in digging up War memorabilia.

2. The amended profile of Craig Gottlieb, one of the 'diggers'. I haven't been able to get my head around the change in profiles of Craig Gottlieb from

“I feel that by selling things that are Nazi related and for lots of money, I’m preserving a part of history that museums don’t want to bother with”

to now he says

"I'm an historian and a military officer. Where other people see fields and trees, I see a battlefield I see fighting positions. I see fields of fire."
I can't escape the conclusion that again this programme promotes the very looting that it gives as an excuse for its creating.

3. The Video. I appreciate its been removed and whilst the Nazi War digger site might say

Unfortunately, a video excerpt from our show posted on our website did not provide important context about our team’s methodology.

there is no excusing the fact Mr Goettlieb was allowed to wrench a femur out of the ground and then play with it thinking it was a humerus.  Where the bloody hell were the archaeologists or supervision that NatGeo speak of? It makes one think more respect would have been given if it had been a possibly valuably 'artifact' rather that 'just' a dead person...

There was nothing in the clip about 'this is not how to do it'. It was ironically a brilliant example of why detectorists without the proper qualifications and / or experience should not be allowed anywhere near a grave. It might also be why when there is what appears to be proper supervision then detectorists aren't allowed to excavate a grave.

From Donna Yates' twitter account

Sam Hardy at Conflict Antiquities has also written extensively and far more eloquently about the programme and I can't find fault with what he has written. In fact the only defence of it is from a chap called 'Hypocrites' who bemoans the fact Sam wasn't criticising the fact people had reposted the pulled video.

I had said to Kris Rodgers that I would wait for the full programme to come out before commenting any further. However for the reasons given above I think the damage has already been done and I don't want to add to any viewing figures.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Nazi war diggers - more change...

It's hard to keep up with the changes being made to the Nazi War Diggers site.

Gone is the picture of one of them looking down the barrel of a recovered rifle. I think it was a rifle.

Now there is new statement regarding the removed video clip.

Nothing about the rewritten profiles.

Would write more but must sleep now...

beginners archaeology,worms and rambling yes it's friday afternoon

I started my book 'Archaeology is Rubbish' yesterday. Very good so far. I've found it interesting just learning more about the history of what lies beneath our feet such as pottery, brick and glass. I think next time I'm out I'll try to take more notice of the non-metal stuff and bring back some of the bits I find to research some more.

In regards to detecting I'm pondering if it's wrong to think that if I can learn more about how to get a picture of the land I'm detecting then I might be able to find more 'metal' stuff. Maybe the benefits of learning more about non metal stuff and the importance of knowing when to stop digging might outweigh this 'wrongness' for want of a better phrase!

Anyway had a little 'Google' of 'Archaeology for beginners' and read this article from the Guardian. I found the below quote very interesting as always wondered why objects dropped got where they did.

Anything on the ground surface left alone for long enough will sink down 10–30cm beneath an accumulation of earthworm casts. Charles Darwin demonstrated this process in his best-selling book of his lifetime, Vegetable Mould & Earth-worms (1881).

If you're twiddling your fingers then the original Darwin text can be found here (look for pages 129 re the burying effect of a worm!)

I do appreciate that my attempts to learn more about archaeology are probably giving some proper archaeologists apoplexy.

For some reason I felt the need to insert a cat into my blog as such here's a picture of one of the aforementioned archaeologist's cats giving me a disapproving look.

Stop digging. NOW!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Nazi War Diggers - It's all change!

The Nazi War Diggers site has undergone a radical change!

Gone is the video of an arm, no wait, a leg being passed around.

Gone are all the comments stating how disgraceful the programme is.

Gone is the Mr Gottlieb's quote that

 “I feel that by selling things that are Nazi related and for lots of money, I’m preserving a part of history that museums don’t want to bother with”

now he says 

"I'm an historian and a military officer. Where other people see fields and trees, I see a battlefield I see fighting positions. I see fields of fire."

There is now a profile of a fourth digger, Adrian, who likes relics, apparently.

There is also a new section regarding responsible detecting.

Dear god, what a fuck up.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Nazi War Diggers Part 2

UPDATE 27/03 Please note that the Metal Detecting Forum threads linked to below have now been deleted.

Over on The Metal Detecting Forum discussion continues about the Nazi War Diggers programme in two threads here and here.

It would appear there is a going to be some sort of Q and A session which might address some of the obvious concerns.

I have to say I'm really struggling with Mr Gottliebs presence on the show. Having had a look at Mr Gottliebs website it's clear he sells Militaria. He will also let you know what your Militaria is worth. From his bio he's clearly done very well.

Now there is clearly a finite amount of such militaria that is not buried alongside the fallen and with interest in World War II militaria apparently on the increase I cant help but think that Mr Gottlieb has a vested interested in the looting of dead soldiers in that it fuels the increasing demand.

I would be interested to know what if any steps Mr Gottlieb and his History Hunters website go to to make sure that the items they appraise and buy haven't been looted from the bodies of the fallen, the same fallen that this programme seemingly goes out of its way to give a proper burial.

Oh just read the comments under a clip of the programme. Er not good, ie

'I also have an MA in Bioarchaeology, and I have a serious question. Why aren't these fellows in jail?'
Sadly looks like a case of no such thing as bad publicity (appreciate the irony in what I just wrote).

Without some bloody miracle this really doesn't look good for metal detectorists.

Still I did say I'd trust Addicted to Bleeps (one of the diggers) so here's hoping that short clip is not representative of the actual programme. I'm afraid I am pessimistic.

Nazi War Diggers

Paul Barford highlights a new television programme entitled 'Nazi War Diggers' where
'Three war diggers are racing against time to save this history from being looted or lost'
By 'looted' one wonders if this means by other detectorists (aka War Diggers?) who want to sell the belongings for money. This seems a bit like one of the diggers Mr Gottlieb who seems to have said
 “I feel that by selling things that are Nazi related and for lots of money, I’m preserving a part of history that museums don’t want to bother with”
I can't help but think if he did say this then perhaps he's encouraging the looting that he's now on a crusade to stop, apparently.
Anyway I'm obviously in danger of pre-judging a programme which may be far more like the efforts gone by many to give those killed in the second world war a proper burial as described in this BBC article.
Will the Three Detectorist be like the White Teams or Black Teams as per the aforementioned article...
These teams are known as the "white diggers", but there are also those dubbed "black diggers" who search for medals, guns, coins or even gold teeth which they sell online or to specialist dealers. They are not interested in identifying the soldiers - they just leave the bones in the ground.


Andy's back

Andy is back detecting at Andy's UK Metal Detecting Blog.

Welcome back Andy.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Andy's UK Metal Detecting Blog, book and Archaeology group

Shame to see Andy is not going to be updating his metal detecting blog any more for the foreseeable future. Good luck with your other projects.

I emailed Stephanie my FLO today for a contact for my local Archaeology Group as it would be nice to at least go out on some of their digs / field walking surveys to get at least a very basic idea of what they do. I think some / a lot of people get a metal detector because they look at Archaeology and think 'urg boring' I want to find treasure like Indy. Perhaps being a responsible detectorist is partly about try to show the historical not monetary value of finds. If the PAS don't have time to be proactive in spreading the word maybe it's about spreading the word for them. Hopefully their volunteer project will make this easier (haven't had a response to my email yet).

I was reading Heritage Action's post on deep seeking metal detectors especially the Minelab 5000 GPX and the comments between Andy Baines and Paul Barford yesterday and it raises some interesting points.

From reading Gary's Detecting review of it the machine appears to be a Pulse Indicating (PI) Machine with limited ability to discriminate out iron. PI's tend to go a lot deeper than Very Low Frequency (VLF) machines but unlike VLF's they aren't very good at indicating what sort of metal they have picked up.

This means if you use a PI machine on land you are going to be digging a lot of iron. I personally don't know anyone who uses a normal price range (up to about £2000) PI machine on land, ie non beach which I appreciate is still technically land :)

Metal detectorists generally don't like digging iron as it's not considered very interesting / valuable and there is a lot of it (that's probably another post in itself). A PI machine with its ability to go deeper than a VLF machine that could also discriminate out all Iron is probably the Holy Grail to many detectorists. I say many as I think it would have been for me to when I first started. However the more I consider the effects of digging below the ploughline. which such a 'perfect' machine would make commonplace, the less tempting buying such a machine if it ever comes to exist is. That's not to say it isn't tempting and this is where I have to fight my desire to find 'treasure' at any costs with the realisation that by doing so I might well be acting rather irresponsibly.

Anyway this PI machine seems to have some ability to discriminate iron and as such Gary seems to have pointed to how he might use it

'I use my GPX when I know there is a chance of finding something deep, quite often in area's known to have produced finds such as hoards or productive patches that have been worked with VLF machines, I always try to follow my own GPX rule in order to maximise my finds rate.'

Perhaps therefore this machine has its uses as part of an archaeological dig but I have to say when I first read Gary's statement it did rather seem like it might be favoured by nighthawkers who are more likely to target 'productive patches' or where hoards have been found. Obviously not saying Gary is one just that it might not be the most responsible of machines to use in most circumstances.

Oh yes my book turned up to.

Oh yeah finally people  use PI's on beaches as they are generally easier to dig and also many beaches are quite heavily 'mineralised' which in detecting speak means that VLF machines don't work very well as they think the 'mineralised' sand / clay is metal and thus go beep beep beep a lot at everything. The PI's aren't fussed about this sort of 'mineralised' stuff.*

I think this is correct please correct me if wrong!

Monday, 24 March 2014

The PAS volunteer expansion

In April 2013 the PAS realised news of a £17.600 lottery grant to develop a project for expanding its volunteer base in the hope of spreading the PAS word and also being able to record more items.  Since the comment below I haven't been able to see an update so I have emailed Claire today to see how the project is developing.

Thank you for your comments. Although the project will be coordinated by the PAS central unit based at the BM, we will be spending the next year finding organisations within local communities to host the project hubs - this will form a large part of the development phase. These will be centred around local FLOs. The aim of the project is that the volunteers recruited will be properly trained, which is what we will be applying for funding for. This will help ensure best practice by all involved in the project. We also hope that the volunteers we recruit will stay involved in the project long-term.

My email.

Hi Claire

I hope you are well. I was reviewing the PAS news website and saw your article on the Lottery Fund first-round pass to expand it's volunteer base query dated 2nd April 2013. I was wondering how this project was developing as I would may be interested in any opportunities that the project presents. I recently set up a blog called 'The Responsible Detectorist' and one issue that has been discussed is the under recording of items which I understand is down to a number of factors one being the finite resources of the PAS and another being detectorists not handing over their finds for recording. I was therefore interested in seeing how / if the volunteer project is progressing as this would hopefully give detectorists less excuse to say they don't hand over finds because their FLO is to busy!

I look forward to your response.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Strange lead object and finds for today

Went out for a few hours today and this is the result. Nothing to retire on today but some curious little bits and pieces.

The lead object is quite interesting. Almost looks like a Colosseum pattern. Any ideas welcome!

The little brooch type object is pretty to. 

Will pop them in the FLO box and then back at work tomorrow so will have some more time to ponder a comment over on the 'About me' page on how to stop night-hawking.    

I also noticed some more moans about detecting rallies. Can't say they appeal to me apart from a chance to meet people I guess.