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.