All posts by MetalDetecting

The bad old days – finding hoards without a metal detector

The bad old days – finding hoards without a metal detector

finding hoards without a metal detector
Finding Hoards in the Bad Old Days

This is how hoards were found in the bad old days, before metal detectors. Smashed to pieces by the plough! Illustration from the book Coins of the Romans Relating to Britain By John Y. Akerman, Published 1836 (the book is reproduced in full at the link).

When archaeologists uncover hoards they are usually in the foundations of buildings. The classic example being hoards of Roman bronze coins (sometimes very large hoards) being uncovered in the foundations of Roman Villas and other structures. The Romans buried coin hoards in the foundations of buildings as offerings to the gods or household spirits.

The Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain

The Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain

The list of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain – the original manuscripts, written in Welsh, date from the 15th and 16th centuries, but they almost certainly draw on paper sources and oral traditions that are far, far older.

The list of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain is long over due an update, let’s bring the list of the Thirteen Treasures of Britain into the 21st century!

I’m not talking strictly about metal detecting finds here, but also coins, artefacts, hoards, brooches, weapons etc. that may have been excavated by archaeologists, found purely by chance by people digging drainage ditches or ploughing fields, uncovered by barrow diggers or by workman renovating old buildings.

Here are a few suggestions to get things started:

The items on the above list may not possess the supernatural abilities and properties of the original Thirteen Treasures, but they are certainly all magical in their own way.

Have your say, what are Great Britain’s Thirteen Greatest Treasures? leave a comment here, over on the forum or email me! If we can get together a good, interesting list, I’ll set up a poll so that everybody and anybody can vote for their favourites.

Mystery metal detecting finds – Roman dodecahedron

Mystery metal detecting finds – Roman dodecahedron

Roman dodecahedron - mystery metal detecting finds
Photograph of a Roman dodecahedron from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Schwarzenacker_Pentagondodekaeder1.jpg

Ever found one of these? Roman dodecahedra are believed to date from the second and third century AD, and range from 4 to 11cm in size. There are many theories about what they may have been used for, but I believe they were used as portable personal altars, possibly to a water god or spirit, others have said that they may have been used as candle holders as some of known examples were found with wax on them. They are certainly one of the more strange items that you might uncover whilst metal detecting.

Roman dodecahedra are objects that may not be immediately recognizable to a lot of metal detectorists, and I have often wondered how many more of them might be out there! If you have ever found one, leave a comment or drop me an email.

Roman dodecahedron - mystery metal detecting finds
Photograph of a Roman dodecahedron from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Roman_dodecahedron.jpg

Other links:

Metal Detecting UK

Dallinghoo/Wickham Market Hoard – metal detecting find fund-raising

Metal detecting find fund-raising – The Dallinghoo/Wickham Market Hoard

Dallinghoo/Wickham Market Hoard, 840 Iron Age gold staters of the Iceni tribe, found by metal detectorists in 2008.
Dallinghoo/Wickham Market Hoard, 840 Iron Age gold staters of the Iceni tribe, found by metal detectorists in 2008. Photograph courtesy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service have apparently begun a fund raising effort to secure the Dallinghoo/Wickham Market Hoard of 840 Iron Age gold staters found by two metal detectorists in 2008. The Dallinghoo/Wickham Market Hoard is one of the largest hoards of iron age gold staters ever discovered. The 840 gold staters date from around 40 BC–15 AD.

This metal detecting find received a fair bit of coverage in the news after a very public falling out between the two finders, Michael Darke (or Dark, depending on source) and Keith Lewis.

The BBC reports that Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service hope to display this fantastic metal detecting find at Ipswich Museum, but I have not been able to find any details or information about the fund-raising effort on their various web sites as yet, so if you want to support the campaign to keep this find in Essex, you could try getting in touch with Ipswich Museum directly:

Ipswich Museum
High Street
Ipswich IP1 3QH

Tel: 01473 433550
Fax: 01473 433558 [Wow, people still use faxes? wtf?]

I’ll update if an online fund-raising campaign is launched.

‘Treasure house’ of the North Thames tribes discovered – largest find of Iron Age gold in UK history

‘Treasure house’ of the North Thames tribes discovered – largest find of Iron Age gold in UK history

Metal detectorists in Hertfordshire discover the ‘Treasure house’ of the North Thames tribes – the single largest find of Iron Age gold in history. Found just outside St. Albans, the hoard of 52,504 gold staters and over 200 neck torcs is set to re-write the history books.

A group of archaeologists called in to excavate the find videoed the recovery of what has been called ‘the most stunning metal detecting find in history’ and are releasing the tapes on YouTube:

'Treasure house' of the North Thames tribes discovered

Expect to see plenty about this incredible discovery on the news all day today!

Metal Detecting UK

New fake pound coin type? Coin forgery for fun and profit…

First post of 2011! Just when it seemed the Police had the pound coin forgers licked (or at least nicked) a possible new fake pound coin type has emerged, if not a new type it is certainly a new one to this area at least, far brighter and shinier than the previous ones:

fake pound coin photo
Though the numbers of fake pound coins in circulation seems to have decreased over the last few months, I still wonder what impact they are having on the economy. Time to go back to the good ole £1 note!
fake pound coin photo

The easiest way to spot them is still the poorly executed edge inscriptions:

fake pound coin photo

fake pound coin photo

fake pound coin photo

fake pound coin photo

Wikipedia says: “A Royal Mint survey in January 2009 estimated that 2.58% of all £1 coins in circulation are counterfeit. This represented a considerable increase, up from 2.06% a year earlier, with the highest level of counterfeits being in Northern Ireland (3.6%) and London and the South East (2.97%) and lowest in Northwest England. Some estimates place the figure closer to 5%. An earlier survey in 2006 gave an estimate of 1.7%, which itself was nearly twice earlier estimates.

In July 2010, it was reported there were so many counterfeit pound coins in circulation (about 2.81% or about 1 in 36) that the Royal Mint were considering removing the current £1 coin from circulation and replacing it with a new design. Bookmakers Paddy Power offered odds of 6/4 (bet £4 to make £6 profit) that the £1 coin would be removed from circulation.

One common method of detecting counterfeits (if the sound of the coin on a table or the colour of the metal does not indicate something suspicious) is to check whether the reverse matches the edge inscription for the alleged year – it is extremely common for counterfeiters to get this wrong. Also, the writing on the edge may be in the wrong font and look very poor (see image), and the coins often generally look much less sharp and defined, lacking intricate details. Most counterfeit £1 coins in circulation are made of brass, and most lead copies are easy to spot and are quickly removed from circulation.”

Roman Silver Leda mirror from the Boscoreale treasure

Roman Silver Leda mirror from the Boscoreale treasure

Roman first century silver Leda mirror from the Boscoreale treasure, photo courtesy of the Louvre.
Roman first century silver Leda mirror from the Boscoreale treasure, photo courtesy of the Louvre.

Another superb piece of roman silversmithing – the Leda and the Swan mirror from the Boscoreale treasure. This piece dates from the first century AD and was found in the remains of the Boscoreale Villa, a high status dwelling just outside Pompeii, that was destroyed in 79AD by the eruption of mount Vesuvius.

An ancient Greek metal detecting find – revisited

An ancient Greek metal detecting find – revisited

I posted this picture a few days back, probably my favourite metal detecting find of all time, an ancient greek coin minted in Italy. I found this coin almost 20 years ago and didn’t notice until just now – there seems to be writing just above the bull’s back:

An ancient Greek metal detecting find - Thurium bull ancient greek coin
An ancient Greek metal detecting find – Thurium bull ancient greek coin

Can’t believe it took me this long to notice! The writing isn’t ‘eye visible’ on the coin itself, but the camera certainly seems to have picked it up. Time to break out the flatbed scanner and photoshop, wonder if I can enhance it enough to make it readable?

Metal Detecting UK