Category Archives: Metal Detecting Finds

Metal detecting ‘helping to preserve Britain’s history’

A nice video about metal detecting from the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13637861

The Guardian’s coverage of the PAS annual report launch: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/may/25/metal-detector-ancient-england-maps

This will be my last blog post for the foreseeable future.

Some Roman coins of the usurper Allectus

Some Roman coins of the usurper Allectus

Flatbed scanning and image manipulation technology have come a long way since 1997 when I first made Coins of the Romans Relating to Britain By John Y. Akerman, 1836, available for free on the internet! (See some of my earlier and more primitive scanning attempts here) So I have been revisiting this classic work to provide better quality images of the interesting woodcuts of roman coins contained in this book:

Roman coin - Allectus Adventus
Woodcut of a roman coin of Allectus (293-296AD)

Above: Obverse. IMP ALLECTVS P F AVG. Imperator Allectus Pius Felix Augustus.

Reverse. ADVENTVS AVG. Adventus Augusti. Allectus on horseback, his right hand raised, his left holding the hasta: before, a captive seated on the ground: in the exergue, S P C.

A very unusual coin, for Allectus at least, this particlar reverse is very similar to the now famous denarius of Carausius from the Frome Hoard, found by metal detectorist Dave Crisp. Roman Coins and Their Values, 4th revised edition, doesn’t list this particular coin, could it be a forgery inspired by the Carausius denarius, or just a very rare issue of Allectus?

Roman coin of Allectus, Galley type
Woodcut of a roman coin of Allectus (293-296AD)

Above: The classic coin of Allectus, the Galley reverse. RCV lists three different ‘Galley’ types.

See also: Coins of the Romans Relating to Britain, Plates I-VI

Celtic gold coins found whilst volunteering for an archaeological unit

Celtic gold staters of Tasciovanus, king of the Catuvellauni tribe

Celtic gold staters of Tasciovanus. Celtic gold coins.
Celtic gold staters of Tasciovanus. Celtic gold coins.

Celtic gold stater (right) and quarter stater (left) of Tasciovanus, king of the Catuvellauni tribe (from around 20BC until around 9AD) and father of Cunobelin, that I found whilst volunteering for an archaeological unit. Equipment used was a Compass Coin Pro II metal detector and a massive yellow JCB in place of my usual Black ADA. These photos turned out pretty well considering they were taken on the cover of one of my finds log books that was sitting on the boot of the presiding archaeologists car!

Celtic gold staters of Tasciovanus. Celtic gold coins.
Celtic gold staters of Tasciovanus. Celtic gold coins.

Payment received by me for these two rare gold coins? £0.00p. If they were acquired by a museum after the Treasure Act inquest (I was not told what happened to the coins after that point) at St Albans Coroners Court, they certainly got a bargain! The FLO who attended the inquest as expert witness certainly seemed impressed. They are certainly among my all time favourite metal detecting finds! Celtic gold coins found whilst volunteering for an archaeological unit forum thread.
Celtic gold stater of Tasciovanus

Celtic gold staters of Tasciovanus. Celtic gold coins.
Celtic gold staters of Tasciovanus. Celtic gold coins.
Celtic gold staters of Tasciovanus. Celtic gold coins.
Celtic gold staters of Tasciovanus. Celtic gold coins.

Celtic gold quarter stater of Tasciovanus

Celtic gold quarter stater of Tasciovanus

Metal Detecting UK

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

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

Rare Carausius ‘Clasped Hands’ Denarius being offered by Dix, Noonan and Webb

Rare Carausius ‘Clasped Hands’ Denarius being offered by Dix, Noonan and Webb

Dix, Noonan and Webb are offering a very rare Carausius ‘Clasped Hands’ Denarius in their December 9th coin auction:

Carausius, Argenteus, London, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, rev. clasped hands, 4.19g/6h (cf. RIC 549; cf. Shiel 14-20). Very fine and very rare £600-800

There was a near perfect example of this coin found amongst the 52,503 coins of the Frome Hoard, found by Dave Crisp. See The Frome Hoard Book, by Sam Moorhead, Anna Booth and Roger Bland, page 28 for more information about this very unusual coin and an interesting theory about the meaning of the letters ‘RSR’ beneath the clasped hands from Guy de la Bedoyere. Although, John Y. Akerman writing in Coins of the Romans Relating to Britain, 1836, says “It is difficult to assign an exact meaning to the letters RSR; but if conjecture be allowed, it seems highly probable that this coin was struck at Rutupia (Richborough in Kent).”

Wish I had the money for this one!

Metal Detecting UK