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This website is brought to you by a team of very passionate historians and metal detectorists. We are not part of the grab it and run brigade.
History is extremely important to us and recording finds and working alongside archaeologists is of utmost importance.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Norfolk Wolf - John Lynn

For those of you who watch youtube or read field test reports, you will be familiar with the name John Lynn (aka John Lynn). He has done many field tests over the years and has helped so many understand their machines. Sadly John is very poorly at the moment and I want to send my thoughts to him, at this difficult time in his life.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Identifying an Irish Hammered Penny of Henry III

It is always a pleasure helping identify Irish coins but this one I enjoyed more than most. The give away details on this particular coin are the monarchs portrait in a triangle on the obverse. This almost certainly made it an Irish coin and an earlier one at that. Upon turning the coin over, the reverse has a Voided Long Cross, which helped date the coin to the period of Henry III.

So now I knew the era we were looking at the next important part was to find were it was minted. Well this was the real easy part, as during this period Dublin was the only mint operating. If you look closely on the reverse you can see ON DIVE (of Dublin). So far so good. We knew the King and also the Mint. Now it was time to find out who actually made the coin. Unlike the Mints in England, there were only two moneyers making the coins at this time in Ireland. Their names were Ricard and Davi. It was time to look closely again at the reverse and I could see that the name began with an R, in the inscription. Straight away I knew it was minted by Ricard.

The Irish coins of Henry III are split up into 2 classes which are each in turn split into four types. In order to find out what class it belonged to, I needed to check out a number of details on the obverse. This fell into the category of a type Ic coin. Not only did it have a sexfoil to the right of the bust it also had pronounced double line of pellets forming the beard and the shoulders are formed from pellets. Another aspect of this class is that he crown is formed from arcs and pellets and it also has a small triangle below the central fleur of the crown The inscription around the triangle confirmed what we already believed. This coin was from the reign of Henry III - heNRI CVSR eX III – (Henry III King)

So there we have it. A, Type 1c, Irish Penny of Henry III, Dublin Mint, Moneyer Ricard.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Chester - Bank Holiday Monday - Detecting Day

I helped find some land for the day but not all went to plan.

Where do I start?

Well let me give you a bit of background. The land in, and around,the Chester area is owned by several big land owners. One is the Duke of Westminster, one of the others the Barbour Family. Both great contributors to charity.

In this instance I was approached by a charity supported by the Barbour family, to raise some funds. It was all a bit last minute, but I agreed and a promise of £200 was made to their Charity. After advertising on UKDN, there was a small shortfall but I was happy to make up the difference.

I asked for an agreement and a map, and one was duly provided. On it stated that 2 plots (at least) would be ploughed and rolled and I contacted them to check, if seeded, was it okay to proceed with detecting. The answer in writing - yes.

So lets move forward to today.

Arriving nice and early on a lovely bright and sunny day, I'm greeted by many from UKDN, and look forward to the day ahead. Arriving on the first fields, I couldn't believe our luck. It was flat as a billiard table and within minutes a few silver coins had been found including a Hammered Sixpence of James and a George III Shilling.

After a couple of hours I went to check out another field, and this is when all hell let loose. Sadly the landowner had failed to inform the tenant farmer, and to say he was furious was an understatement. He'd let loose with all kinds of obscenities at both Gladiator2 and lammytheman, who were on separate fields, and was already firing out his fury at my brother and hough green hoard hunter. Upon showing him the map, and with hough green hoard hunters negotiating skills, the imminent threat level was downgraded from Red to Orange I must say that I did have an element of sympathy but the chances of any damage being done, on seeds that had not even germinated was non existent.

So where did that leave us? I had a few fields which were not rented to this farmer, but owned by the estate. So the lads moved over to this pasture with no moaning at all. Their hole filling was immaculate and they made my life very easy. Cheers lads. In fact they were a huge credit to the hobby. Everybody was light hearted and although very tiring because of the sun, managed a few other nice bits including an Edward groat and a small Roman Fibula, amongst some other nice bits, including the average coins, army badges and a small silver brooch.

All money was refunded, although most preffered it wasn't (if you haven't received yours please get in touch) and the day continued uneventful, but it was the least I could do. The charity will be offered the opportunity to make more money towards the end of the year. To my knowledge the four USA dollars I buried with prizes of 3 bottles of wine and a bottle of good quality malt, remained unfound. Again if this isn't correct, please contact me to claim your prize.

Not the kind of day I expected and my sincere apologies for any inconvenience. In all the 30 years of detecting I'd never experienced a situation like this. But it was great meeting some of the lads on here and putting names to faces, in particular lammytheman and digowt (a true Evertonian if there ever was one). I'll be sorting some other days out in the Summer. Now how more black and white can I make an agreement? No wonder I have little hair left!!

Here's a pic of one of the hammies. A James 1 sixpence

And the land

Kind Regards

Sunday, 13 February 2011

What is a love token?

Over the years Metal Detectorists have found thousands of worn silver coins. However there is a big difference between a worn corn and a love token.

In the 18th and 19th centuries coins were often used as love tokens. They were handmade by suitors who gave them to their sweethearts. Poorer working class young men made their tokens from copper coins. The wealthy young man could use a silver or even a gold coin.

They were made simply and highly decorated. The coin would be rubbed down on both sides (a great task in itself), until the monarch's head and other details of design were removed. The young man then engraved or stamped his own design and message onto the blank disc he had created. Considering the fact that most of the men who created these love tokens were unskilled and most-often illiterate, some of the results are quite remarkable. Decorations vary greatly. The symbols that were included used romance and love as their theme, so there were many hearts, hearts and arrows, Cupid's bow and arrow, flowers, doves, lovers' knots were often included, as were the initials of the young man or his sweethearts. Some also had patterns and and were very decorative - others were more crude.

Take then back your foolish token,
Since it cannot change like you;
When I feel my heart is broken,
Shall it still proclaim you true?
When you gave it, you besought me
Never from that pledge to part:
If I am what then you thought me,
You have spurned an honest heart!

The fact that thousands of these are found metal detecting makes you wonder whether they were delibarately discarded after a 'lovers tiff' or whether they were lost when the lovers were apart. It certainly makes me think when I find one??

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

It’s just an old Viccy Penny!

Ever since I first started metal detecting I have always found old Pennies and Ha’pennies. These have mainly been on Parkland or Recreational Areas but I have also found my share on Farmland also. It is fair to say that many of these coins have seen ‘better days’ but there are occasions when the soil conditions have been very kind and the coins have come out the ground in excellent condition.

Post Hammered Ha’pennies and Pennies (excluding Maundy) come in three different metals: Copper, Bronze and Tin. It is the Bronze Coinage that was first introduced in 1860 that I’ll look at in a bit more detail. The composition back then was 95% copper, 4% Tin and 1% Zinc, although it has differed slightly over the life of the coin. The weight of the coins, however, between 1860 and 1967 did not alter a great deal. The Penny averaged 9.45g and the Ha’penny 5.66g with a diameter of 30.81mm and 25.47mm respectively.

When the Copper Coinage was first introduced all the coins were minted in London. However during the years 1860-3 many coins were minted in Birmingham by engineering firms Messrs Ralph Heaton & Sons and Messrs Boulton and Watt. Heaton also assisted the Royal Mint during 1874 to 1882 and for several years during the reign of King George V. You can often distinguish these coins by the letter H next to the date. Another company that helped produce Pennies was Kings Norton Co. Ltd. These offered their skills during the years 1918 and 1919, and have a KN by the date.

These coins can be extremely collectable. In fact there are collectors worldwide who just collect Pennies and Ha’pennies. The most collectable ones are the Victorian period. During this period many different dies were used and it is not uncommon to find a date of a Penny, which could have anything upto six variable Die mixes of the Obverse and Reverse of the coin. Some of the variations are extremely minor. These can be anything from a colon missing or extra leaves in the wreath. There are also coins that have Low Tides and High Tides in relation to Britannia. Just a slight difference in the die type can make a huge difference to a collector. Some of these coins (even in poor condition) can still be extremely collectable.

As with many different type of coin, there is a scale of rarity, as far as Ha’pennies and Pennies are concerned. This was calculated by Freeman and makes an attempt to estimate how rare a particular Bronze coin actually is. An R20 coin is believed to be unique against an R2 coin which may have upto 1 million in existence. It is fairly accurate in its calculations but isn’t exact. However a number of collectors do use it to determine how rare their variety is.

It is fair to say that Metal Detectorist’s don’t go out looking for old Pre-Decimal Pennies and Ha’pennies, infact for many these are the last thing that they would wish to find. However as can be seen from above, a ‘Viccy’ penny, need not always disappoint. Just like any other coinage there are rare dates and varieties, and hopefully more will come to light in years to come.The vast majority will sadly be nothing more than scrap to a serious collector but there are exceptions. Next time you find a Victorian Penny, think before you put it in your scrap bucket.

Friday, 17 September 2010

What is a potmend?

It is likely that in an average days metal detecting, you will find many bits of old lead. In times gone by, lead was a valuable source, and was used for making so many different kinds of artefacts. This included Buttons, Weights, Seals to name a few.

One piece of lead that you may find is a potmend. I must admit that until recently I had no idea what one was. So my guess is there are others who may not know either.

From Roman times, when a valued ceramic pot got cracked, rather than chuck it, they mended it. The easiest way to do this was to drill a hole at the end of the crack and then pour molten lead into it whilst placing a flat object at the back to stop the lead all running away.

This formed a plug of lead in the hole with a larger splayed out and flattened area of lead both inside and outside the pot. This both sealed the hole and stopped any further cracking. Most of these are small but all are of a very distinctive shape with two flat areas separated by a thin, circular plug in the centre.

Some of these potmends will come complete with a bit of pottery, still intact. Others will have worked their way free. The potmend method was used all the way through to medieval times.

Here are a couple of examples

My thanks must go to Tom on UKDetectornet, who helped educate me on the above.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


London, England
16th September 2010


Spink is pleased to announce the sale of a fine and rare gold torc, from the Iron Age of Great Britain, dated approximately 150 to 50BC. The ‘Diss’ torc, so named because it was discovered in the Diss area of Norfolk, is estimated to fetch between £25,000 and £35,000 when it comes up for auction on the 30th September 2010 at Spink’s headquarters in London.

When the torc was originally discovered, it was not recognized as such a rare and valuable item. However, when brought into Spink earlier this year it was immediately identified as a gold torc. It is very similar to others uncovered in East Anglia in the famous Snettisham finds now housed in the British Museum. After completion of the treasure review process it was returned to the owner with confirmation that it was indeed an Iron Age gold torc. Spink was then asked to offer this prestigious item for public auction.

Gold torcs are extremely rare and among the finest examples of pre-Roman Celtic metalwork. The word ‘torc’ actually comes from the Latin word Torquis, which literally means “to twist”. This is a fitting title for such an item as the torc resembles a necklace of thick twisted wires of gold. Many will recognize this piece immediately from the Hellenistic sculpture of The Dying Gaul, who is wearing a torc around his neck. The torc was a symbol of high social standing in the Iron Age. It was thought to be a decoration awarded to great warriors as a way of commemorating their fearlessness on the battlefield.

The sale of the ‘Diss’ torc offers a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire an example of high status Celtic metalwork. Spink anticipate a great deal of interest in this item from buyers around the globe as this is the first time in many decades that a gold torc from the British Iron age has been available on the open market.

About Spink
Spink is the world’s leading auctioneer of coins, stamps, medals, banknotes, bonds, share certificates and autographs, with offices in London, Singapore, New York and Dallas. Since its foundation in 1666, the Spink name has become synonymous with tradition, experience and integrity. Holders of three royal warrants and numerous records for prices achieved at auction, Spink offer an unparalleled range of services to collectors worldwide.