Sixpences At The Squires Gate…..

Over the course of time, most anything can and does happen with the movement of sand on the beach and that includes movement by things other than the tide. When I arrived at Squires Gate, Blackpool, I was still expecting several inches of extra sand at the top of the beach but instead, I had a nice surprise. A 10 meter strip had been scraped clean by the bulldozer – right down to a bed of pebbles which are usually only exposed after big tides and choppy sea’s. This was a real bonus as there was extra sand everywhere else and as I looked around the piles made by the machine, I could see that a lot of trash had been scraped up too. Unfortunately, some modern finds will also have been gathered in the debris but one can’t have everything and in any case, I prefer the older finds which may be underneath! I must also say that gold rings tend to settle in places like this too, sinking through the sand but unable to penetrate the pebble layer.

Here’s some of the trash which was still left!

Trash.

Trash – from pull-tabs to light bulbs.

There were many people on the sand but the pebbles were clear, no other detectorists were in sight either, so I almost had it to myself. I started on manual sensitivity and set it to level 22 (least sensitive = 0, most sensitive = 32), detecting in all-metal mode which means seeing every metal target (no discrimination) and using ferrous tones (giving a signal tone based on the targets iron content as opposed to its conductivity).

As I worked my way along the pebble bed, I immediately started to find pre-decimal coins and to my delight, a few of them were sixpences. I was hoping these coins were silver but all except one were rather encrusted and green, maybe they were minted towards the end or even after true silver/silver-alloy coin production I thought, as more copper etc., was added at this time. One sixpence did however, turn out to be sterling silver and two others were 50% silver. Their position at the top of the beach allows the coins to be exposed to more oxygen (longer water-free periods between tides). This means more corrosion for the coins with less silver in them, as oxidization occurs with other metals which may be present in those coins i.e. when copper is oxidised, it turns green (it’s all about chemical reactions, bonds and the movement of electrons, kids). Besides this, particles of sand and other foreign bodies stick hard to help form the encrustation.

On the top row are the sixpences and describing from left to right, the first one is a sterling silver Queen Victoria young head (pre 1887) it has had much wear and tear and I couldn’t see a date and hardly any detail. I suspected this coin had a high silver content as there was no encrustation and the damage and lack of detail, was due to abrasion and staining. The next four coins date 1942, 1945 and 1948 with second from right again having no date as yet. (Silver ceased to be used in British coins after 1946).

 

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The finds.

I found a few “new” one-pence’s, a couple of two-pence’s and some other odd’s and sod’s like a couple of hair clips and several suspender belt buttons (naughty, naughty eh?). I can just imagine, mostly WW2 servicemen I think, taking their dates for a nice quiet stroll along the beach after a night out and a few beers, suggesting a sit down in the dunes to admire the night sky but of course, having some ulterior motive in mind, perhaps? Honestly, with the total number of suspender belt buttons I’ve found here over the years, I could start a little shop :D

Anyhow, it was getting rather crowded here by now, so I decided to move down the coast a little way to Lytham St. Annes. I didn’t go to the pier area this time though, it would be crowded here too, instead I moved just a little further south, almost into the jaws of the Ribble and the last sandy beach on this side of the estuary.

Here’s a few pictures of the second beach I visited (I forgot and left the camera in the car for the first one – it’s just an age thing!).

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The second beach, this time at Lytham St. Annes (looking north).

This was about 11.00 am, maybe a bit early for many beach goers yet…

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Most of the finds came from the dry sand and pebbles at the top of the beach.

Grandma and Granddad, the dog and the grand-kids.

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Having fun.

A few more people had gathered by 12.00 o’clock, detecting was getting more difficult as I always feel self-conscious if it gets too busy.

Scruffy beach.

A bit scruffy looking (the beach I mean, lol) but some finds here.

The kids showed a lot of interest and wanted to try and dig targets for me.

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Looking in the other direction (south) – the end or start of the sandy beach, depending on which way you look at it.

There is a rich biodiversity in the mud-flats and marshland habitat of the Ribble estuary.

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Looking across the Ribble estuary to Merseyside (about 10 miles at this point).

It was a little hazy as I looked across the estuary today.

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Large candle.

I did meet a couple of nice people as I was detecting here, one was a lecturer from an agricultural college and we had a useful chat about modern farming methods and animal welfare but that’s another story, we also talked about metal detecting on beaches other than those in the UK. The Canary Islands were one of the locations she mentioned and her brother-in-law always detects the beach where he stays every year, always finding enough money to pay for the evening drinks – great work if you can get it! On the other hand, I’m struggling to find enough to pay for a single beer lol, good job I don’t drink much (well only water) :D

I think most of us detectorists have sometimes wondered what it’s really like to look for treasure on foreign shores, the mountains or the desert. I have imagined all sorts of scenario’s in years past, where I discover a huge gold nugget in a remote desert, or a vital clue to where pirate treasure is hidden, to go on an adventure in the mountains and discover secret clues to Jesse James gold. I think for me it’s the adventure, the exciting sense of discovery and in the case of artefacts and coins, the sincere wonder of reaching back and touching the past.

Have a lovely week my friends, best wishes, James :)

Rise Up!

Well, it doesn’t seem like a year since the car was serviced but as usual, time has flown by. I don’t know about you but I always feel better for the car after it’s been serviced, like it has sensitive feelings and its breathing a sigh of relief! I suppose I give the car a character very similar to myself, like some sort of transference thing or a sub-conscious admittance of my own insecurities (where’s Sigmund Freud when you need him eh?).

Anyhow, rather than the dealer having the car for the whole day, I was also given the option of waiting for it, so I opted for this and consequently, I’d a couple of hours to kill. I’d already decided to take a nice stroll along the Lancaster canal, which is only about 100 meters away. The canal used to run further into Preston but was filled in and built upon, rail and road services had been extensively developed and the demand for goods to be transported on the canal had dropped significantly.

The prevailing wind has blown the duck weed to this end of the canal, one almost feels like one could step onto it and walk right across (especially if its dark) – but don’t try it kids, you’ll disappear under it! I took my camera with me, so this is some stuff I photographed, I hope you like it.

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The start of the Lancaster canal at Preston.

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Looking back!

As I walked north, away from Preston, the terraced houses on the opposite bank have very steep back yards/gardens, reaching all the way down to the canal. Some people have successfully staged these out and created nice area’s to relax in.

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Good staging work.

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A nautical themed “chill out” area.

Some feathered friends…..

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Moorhen.

Below is a photo of four young cygnets born in spring…..

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Young mute swan cygnets.

These are the same cygnets now, what a difference.

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Mute swan adult and the four very large cygnets.

I’ve seen this duck many times, he’s a real placid old chap, bless him.

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A very old friend.

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Weeping willow.

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A “thatched” gazebo in a garden on the opposite bank of the canal.

I don’t know if this is a specific or general statement against the establishment, or something else?

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Street Art – making a statement?

This piece of street art was at the beginning of the bridge which carries the Blackpool Road, there’s more street art/graffiti as one goes through the tunnel:

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Under Blackpool Road.

Sign post.

Distances are in miles.

Well folks, I had come to the end of my walk as by this time (and with the walk back to the dealers), the car would be ready and all renewed once more! They even valet the car for customers and give it a pressure wash, so it’s all good.

My next trip was to Lytham St. Annes for a detecting session and it was packed out with people basking in the sun so I’ll write this up during the week; I also had a nice talk with a lecturer from an agricultural college about modern farming methods but also about detecting the beaches in Europe and the Canary Islands, so I’ll tell you about this too – good stuff!

Until then mes amis, regards James :)

Related.

Metal Detecting and the Old Tram Bridge. (detectingblackpool.wordpress.com)

 

Guest Post by Crawfords Metal Detectors (UK)…..

Hello there my friends.

It’s my pleasure to introduce a guest post from Crawfords Metal Detectors, one of the principal centres for metal detecting excellence in the UK (link at the bottom of this post) and a company who’s products and customer service are second to none.

The development of metal detectors and their aid in archaeological discovery.

Until a few decades ago, many people felt frustrated and unsatisfied when learning history or visiting museums — the history never came alive, and the museum exhibits were behind glass cases. The only ones who could make physical contact with the past were people like archaeologists and museum staff. However, all that began to change with the birth of metal detecting as a hobby, in the mid-20th century, and it soon became clear how greatly metal detecting enriches our knowledge of the past.

The metal detectors used in the 1950’s and 1960’s were very basic, but by the 1970’s the technology had progressed dramatically, with many innovations including printed circuit boards, transistors and microprocessors, so the machines proved increasingly capable of making some amazing discoveries. The early hobbyists, especially in the UK, were primarily interested in financial gain, and spent their time on beaches looking for items lost by recent visitors. However, the much greater potential of the hobby soon became clear, with frequent discoveries of unrecorded types of artefacts and coins, which substantially contributed to the understanding of the country’s past.

Unfortunately, for a long time there was a great deal of mutual distrust between metal detecting hobbyists and professional archaeologists. Archaeologists strongly distrusted hobbyists, suspecting them of removing valuable artefacts for personal gain, thus destroying the sites and the context of the artefacts. The hobbyists resented archaeologists for excluding them from their sites.

However, these attitudes have softened in recent years, as archaeologists have realized that they often lack expertise in the correct use of metal detectors. This has brought a realization that cooperation could lead to far more fruitful results. Now it is much more likely to happen that detectorists discover important sites, and hand them over to archaeologists to excavate.

One example of this cooperation was in 1984, when a wildfire in Montana provided a unique opportunity to investigate the Battle of Little Bighorn, the site of Custer’s Last Stand in 1876. Hobbyists with metal detectors were recruited to sweep the battlefield, but when they heard beeps, they marked the objects with flags and left them in place, enabling the archaeologists to take careful notes. This made it possible to reconstruct the sequence of events, and disprove the myths that had surrounded the battle.

Another famous example occurred in Germany in the 1980’s, when the use of a metal detector led to the rewriting of history. In 1987, Tony Clunn, a serving British Army officer, used a metal detector to search for the site of the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in the year AD 9, in which Roman legions were comprehensively defeated by Germanic tribesmen. It had always been assumed by historians that this battle was close to the modern town of Bielefeld, but the evidence Clunn unearthed with his metal detector led archaeologists to realize that the true site of the battle was at Kalkriese, about 20 miles north.

Meanwhile, in the USA, organizations like the NPS SEAC (South-east Archaeological Centre) have been cooperating with metal detector hobbyists to conduct surveys of further historic battles on American soil. This relationship began in 1992, when a group of hobbyists in Chattanooga approached their local historian to offer assistance with the battlefield surveys. The SEAC realized that more expertise in using their own equipment would make a profound difference in the reliability of their results.

One example of a battlefield survey was the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780, during the Revolutionary War, in what is now Kings Mountain NMP. In the course of the project, about 90 acres of the battlefield were surveyed by the metal detectorists, and hundreds of artefacts were recovered, the locations of which gave a clear picture of the assaults that took place up the side of the mountain. The result was a much more accurate and complete understanding of the battle than had been available previously.

One reason why the services of hobbyists are so important for investigating the past is that the equipment used for this purpose is particularly powerful, and needs a lot of skill to operate. It is important to be able to detect material of different types and at different depths and if possible to indicate how deep the object actually is, as this has implications for dating. The most versatile type is the VLF, or very low-frequency, detector.

VLF detectors combine two coils — the outer one acts as a transmitter, which uses alternating current to create a magnetic field, which will be distorted by a metal object. The inner coil acts as a receiver, which reads the magnetic field and converts it into an audio tone. These detectors also have electronic circuits called phase demodulators, enabling the user to discriminate among different types of metal, and a ground-balance function, to avoid receiving signals from naturally occurring minerals.

The skill of hobbyists in using this state-of-the-art equipment, combined with the ability of the detectors to discriminate among types of metallic targets, is proving indispensable to the investigations of many historical events, all over the world. At the same time, amateurs with a passion for history are no longer excluded from the privilege of direct hands-on contact with the past. This symbiotic relationship provides hope for the future, as vast amounts of ancient treasures remain beyond the reach even of today’s advanced technology.

Crawford’s Metal Detectors are based in Scunthorpe, UK. Since 1995 they have supplied metal detectors from leading manufacturers to customers throughout the world, as well as becoming a trusted source of advice and help.

They can be contacted at http://www.crawfordsmd.com/

I hope you enjoyed the post and please do take a look at their website.

My best regards, James :)

Detecting at Squires Gate…..

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Wild onion or crow garlic – Allium vineale.  The sand dunes at Squires Gate, Blackpool.

Low water for the tide at Blackpool was at 7.04 am and if I was to follow the general rule of arriving 2 hours before this, would mean me setting off from home at about 4.00 o’clock in the morning! With the time it takes me to get my head into gear so I can actually set off somewhere and the other little things I need to do, like taking my little Yorkshire terrier, Sam, out for a walk and making a flask of coffee etc., I decided I would just have a short nap on the couch and not go to bed. This was no hardship for me as I often end up nodding on the settee, I don’t sleep much in any case. This night was no different from many others and in between cat-naps and getting up to make more tea, I thought about the events of the previous day…..

I took my 82-year-old mother on a routine shopping trip to the supermarket, she loves these trips, it makes her feel happy and contented, something which I like to see. We were accompanied by my grandson (my mom’s great-grandson), who is also called James and its got to be said that my mum and he get on famously together. They’re always full of mischief and if I’m being painfully honest (my pain), when they are together and both are really up for trouble, its hard to tell their naughty behaviour apart.

It usually starts with little things, both of them knowing exactly how to wind me up, my mum keeps nipping my bottom as I’m walking down the food aisles and my grandson takes every opportunity to misdirect the trolley. This is how it starts but unfortunately, it doesn’t stop here and by the time the trip is over, I’ve very nearly received another ban from the enduring and long-suffering staff (just kidding). James always likes to go to the games aisle and today my mother announced she was going with him; a great-grandma and great-grandson, a harmless combination one would think. Not so with these two mischievous imps and even as I said OK about them going, alarm bells started ringing in my head and a strange imaginary voice screamed at me “what have you done”, so only one minute later and with some anxiety, I set off to join them.

I arrived a fraction too late and was just in time to see James, who had acquired a football from somewhere, dribbling up and down the aisle. To my added horror I saw my mum with another football in her hands and I had an awful feeling that I knew exactly what she was going to do with it. I’d just about time to say, “mum, please don’t”…..then she drop kicked the ball down the aisle, where it bounced into the till area among the shocked customers and came to rest near the magazine racks. My grandson had now thrown himself on the floor in hysterics and my mum was waving her arms around and cheering like she’d just scored the winning goal in the world cup…..I’m afraid they both got the red card for this performance and are now facing a long ban! I gave them the usual talk about wild and dangerous behaviour but somehow I don’t think I made an impression, the words “and some seed fell on stony ground” sprang to mind…..

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A species of evening primrose Oenothera spp. – Squires Gate, Blackpool.

Back to reality and time to get up; I’d already turned off the alarm-clock and was ready to start the dreaded process of getting my mind on an even keel to face the day and an hour or so later, I was ready to put the gear in the car. It was coming light now and this always cheers me up, setting off in the dark is always much harder for me. Besides all the detecting gear (spare spade, battery etc.), I decided to take the camera with me today, I’ve been reluctant to take it since I got sand in the other one so I was determined to be more careful on this trip.

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My S4400 Fujifilm bridge camera.

I looked for a suitable spot to detect, hoping to find where the sand had been scoured out by the tide, revealing the lower layers which lay beneath and which contain the history of days long gone by. Generally speaking though, the weather in the UK, along with other countries in the temperate zone, are much calmer in summer than winter. There is less wind and wave energy to cause the movement of sand from the beach but sand is still suspended by the tide and may be deposited higher up the beach, the waves in summer sometimes not having enough energy to carry the sand back out.

This was the case now and as I looked around, my first impressions were that a lot of sand had indeed been deposited, everywhere I looked the beach was smooth without any features like exposed pebble beds, wave ripples formed in the sand or any scoured out gullies in evidence – a bad sign for detecting. I wasn’t perturbed though, I’ve experienced these conditions many times before but I also knew I was going to have to work a little harder to make any finds…..

In this instance, working harder not only meant making the most of one’s chosen detecting area but as importantly, in finding a good detecting area in the first place, amidst this near featureless expanse of sand (in a metal detecting sense).

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A lower strip of sand near the sea’s edge.

I looked closer at the top section of the beach and deemed there was about 2 feet of extra sand deposited, quite a bit more than I had anticipated. There were two or three lower area’s further out on the sand, lower in the sense of the beach having shallow drainage channels in these area’s and although the sand was still generally higher here too, I decided this was the best bet.

I worked my way along this wet strip of sand near to the water’s edge but I didn’t find much here; a fishing lure, a small piece of wire and two rivets.

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Finds.

After the lack of success out on the sand, I decided to move right in and detect where most folk do a little sunbathing or where they sit on the sand to eat their lunch on a break from work; I started to pick up the odd coin. I detected for a further couple of hours and found £3.19, two pre decimal coins and an old decimal 50 pence piece, the crown bottle top was old too but I can’t remember what beer it came from – a pity! I’ll be making another trip soon my friends and this time I’ll be going for gold near south and central piers, situated off the promenade at Blackpool – fingers crossed.

Best wishes and regards my friends, James :)

St. Annes Beach Detecting and some Victorian Architecture…..

A nice little metal detecting trip to Lytham St. Annes the other day, was just the ticket to cheer me up after the last few months of problems. It was very warm but overcast and the atmosphere was humid and heavy, the air was almost tangible and seemed to fold around me like a blanket, making it seem harder to catch a decent breath as I walked across the sand. I took these shots on the way to my detecting location which was around the pier area; there weren’t many people about as yet but it would probably get a little busier towards lunch time, I thought.

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Original Victorian water fountain.

The Victorians were a decorative bunch and in modern terms, built things to last; this area was certainly built with tender loving care and has since been maintained in the same vein. This beach resort is the St. Annes part of Lytham St. Annes and from Victorian times until the present day, has attracted a more wealthy clientèle than Blackpool. An old hand at metal detecting told me that in the early day’s, St. Annes beach was the place to go for the more expensive jewellery and good finds were made regularly. It’s a lot harder than that now, you bet.

Just down the road, Lytham also has some very elaborate properties and enjoys some of the area’s finest examples of Georgian architecture, if you ever get the chance to visit, it would be well worth your while if this sort of thing interests you.

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A small but quaint Victorian bandstand.

The curved light blue area is a child’s paddling pool; the last time I was here, my mate threatened to throw me in for stealing some of his candy floss heh heh, he couldn’t catch me though and in the end he had to give in….I was driving him home!

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Bandstand and paddling pool.

In this picture below, notice the horizontal metal bars near the glass, these were for resting the ladder on when the lamps were lit every night and again, when the lamps were put out in the morning. They were originally lit by gas…..

Victorian street lamp and gazebo.

Victorian street lamp and gazebo.

On the night of the 9th December 1886, the German barque “Mexico” foundered off Southport (across the Ribble estuary) and thirteen men with the Lytham lifeboat went to the rescue – all hands died at sea and this statue commemorates the valour of those involved.

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Commemorating the men of the Lytham lifeboat – all lost at sea in 1886.

An essential part of the beach amenities – ice cream, drinks and other refreshments.

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Ice cream or candy floss?

The promenade, the sea barrier, the kiosk and the Victorian pier (with a bouncy castle thrown in). Plenty of room to detect here, no problem.

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The pier, ice cream kiosk, sea barrier and the dry part of the beach.

The top of the beach is only dry for the moment, the highest tides coupled with a strong onshore wind can sometimes change all that, the sea occasionally coming over the barrier and onto the promenade.

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The old wooden pier (a docking stage for goods and passengers), sitting some way off the end of the “new” Victorian one.

My detecting area today was mostly around the piers, these are just one of several types of obstacle which may help trap finds, especially over an extended period of time or during any rough weather etc…..

I walked out on the sand until I came about level with the end of the “new” pier, there was a chap standing there and he was looking out to sea, he was quite alone and appeared to be in some trouble, or so I thought. He was performing some intricate moves with his arms and I realised he was actually involved in tai chi, also known as tai chi chuan, a discipline which involves deep breathing, relaxation and slow gentle movements to help focus the mind. In some of my other blogs, I’ve mentioned the importance of having one’s mind relaxed and in tune when one detects, it so helps with one’s success in maximizing the number of finds one will make. I bet this sort of thing would be perfect for that and I don’t think I would be much perturbed in performing these actions in public, I believe I would be able to focus and shut off normal outside influences, like random noise and people’s movements etc., as long as they don’t come too close, ha ha.

I started detecting and after about 20 minutes I had my first find – a modern 20 pence coin, next came a highly conductive 5 pence piece, it identified as iron but the target sounded small, with a nice tone – if in doubt, just dig. I found several more modern coins but then I got too close to the iron structure of the pier (I was almost under it) and it started to interfere with the signals, the Minelab 11 inch double “D” coil not working too well here.

I moved away to a strip of wet sand and as I looked carefully, I realised this strip was a little lower than the rest of the surrounding beach. Here’s a closer shot of the old wooden pier and the strip of wet sand:

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One can see the dip in the hight of the beach, creating the wet strip of sand.

I found a further 3 coins in this area, I was hoping for more but I was to be disappointed…..this time! One can see the sea beyond the wooden pier, the tide was on its way in but there was still plenty of time left for me to finish the session so I moved a little closer in to shore.

An interesting feature of the beach, half way between the old pier and the promenade, is a strip of black sand about 30 meters wide, just under the surface. I don’t know why this feature is here like this but the layer of black sand is only about 6 inches thick and then it returns to normal sand again under this layer. It’s been like this for years and it hasn’t changed at all, it would be interesting to hear what a geologist thinks is the reason for this as one usually finds black sand under normal sand and not normal sand under black sand (usually black sand has a higher density, due to its iron content). In the past, I’ve found a platinum ring with three small diamonds and a Victorian gold ear-ring with two larger diamonds, within this layer – lovely finds.

No gold or platinum today though but not to worry. On the way back to the prom, I met a nice old chap who was eager to talk about what he’d seen people find using metal detectors. After a list of jewellery, he told me of a guy who detected all day and came off the beach with every pocket bulging with money, over £500 he said…..I choked as I thought about the £1.02 I had in my finds pouch! People can’t help but exaggerate sometimes lol.

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Finds.

The finds included four 20 pence pieces, a 10 pence piece, a 5 pence piece, two 2 pence pieces and four 1 pence pieces, an junk ear-ring and a shell casing. There was the usual bits and pieces and a glass marble which was down the hole with one of the coins, it was a good day.

Until the next time my friends, take care.

Regards James :)

Down By The River…..

Greetings my friends.

Sorry for the longer than usual absence but I’ve been rather incapacitated lately and altogether restricted in my movements. The truth is, I’ve not been able to go detecting or anywhere else for that matter and I must admit the whole situation has put me on a bit of a downer, that’s probably why I’ve also struggled to write anything worth posting. I’ve had some tests on my gastrointestinal tract at the hospital but haven’t received a diagnosis yet, so I’ll let you know. Anyhow, the other day I decided to put my woe’s behind me and go down to the river for a little time-out and of course, that included taking the metal detector and camera with me.

Robin.

Robin.

A nice old chap (just like me), puts out food for the birds at the same riverside locations everyday, this is one of them and several species of woodland bird are already lined up waiting as the gentleman arrives, eager for their breakfast! A joy to watch and interesting to see the diverse feeding behaviour of the different species, I smile to myself as I picture the apparently random barrage of feeding birds but on looking closer, I realise there is a certain order within the chaos.

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Wood pigeon.

The wood-pigeon usually has top spot when feeding though, they just sit on the post until they’re full, the smaller birds waiting in the surrounding bushes and trees, rather impatiently, I might add! I just missed a shot of the pigeon feeding, it flew into this tree as I approached and left shortly afterwards. As soon as the pigeon left, the other birds were back, the tits flitting in and out feeding as a community, the cheeky robin just coming and going throughout the entire proceedings and with the occasional visit from a chaffinch.

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Under the watchful eyes of a grey squirrel.

This grey squirrel was curious, wondering what I was up to but it also made sure there was always a safe distance between us; his friends over the river are much tamer, there is much more human traffic over there and with it a bigger variety and number of food treats. The birds and animals have come to enjoy the human food subsidy they receive, which is available to them all year round.

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A young rabbit hiding in the undergrowth, pretending it wasn’t there.

This young rabbit hopped away as I approached but hid in the undergrowth, it stayed quiet and still until I’d moved on, a tactic I’ve seen before, when a complete escape is not possible (there was a small stream in the way). Whether I’m hiking, walking or indeed metal detecting, being in the midst of nature and beautiful scenery holds a special feeling for me, I always feel much better for the experience. Birds, fish and animals always behave so much better than we do and even if they compete vigorously or some fall prey, one can still sense the harmony they have between each other and their environment. Something we humans are not so good at…..Anyhow, I arrived at the river.

This was my detecting spot:

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A small pebble beach – just after a flood but already beginning to silt up with the tides.

I began detecting but just couldn’t seem to get things right, I guess it took me a while to get the mind-set back and be comfortable with the tones again…..

It took me ages to make my first non-trash find, a five pence coin but unfortunately, that was it and just more trash followed. I found I was uncomfortable and couldn’t concentrate very well. I had to go home. As far as detecting was concerned, I found myself very disappointed, especially as I haven’t any finds to show you but at least there were some nice animals to see. I wanted to apologize to you for the intermittent posts and promise I’ll be back on track as soon as possible.

Take care my friends, James :)

A Talk on Metal Detecting at Freckleton Library…..

Greetings my friends.

I’m very honoured and excited to be able to tell you about a public talk I’ve been asked to give about my favourite subject, metal detecting (as if you didn’t know)! The location is a small town called Freckleton, situated near to the popular holiday resort of Blackpool and quite near to my beloved beaches. Ideally, the talk is to last up to two hours long but this also includes a question time afterwards and that gives me enough time to deliver a complete picture for the people who attend and to whom, relating of the full detecting experience, is of paramount importance to me. The location is at the library, the time and date are yet to be arranged, so I’ll let you know when it’s to be held.

The talk will cover the basics of metal detecting and the agenda will include:

  1. The wonderful connection to the past – what metal detecting means to me and how it’s enriched my life.
  2. How metal detectors work; the coil, control box, magnetic field and how it produces the audio signal etc.
  3. The different types of metal detector and some advice for beginners.
  4. A demonstration of the detector, the visual display, the tones and sounds of different metals.
  5. Other equipment; clothing, digging implements, pouches, pin-pointer, maps etc.
  6. Where one can go detecting; the do’s and don’ts etc., the National Council for Metal Detecting (NCMD), the Federation of Independent Detectorist’s (FID) and the code of practise, which they both agree on.
  7. The importance of research; complete knowledge of local history, old maps, documents, features in the landscape, Google earth, word of mouth etc.
  8. Getting permission.
  9. What to do with one’s finds; to clean or not to clean, preserving, saving, documenting and photographing etc.
  10. Question time.
  11. Handout showing useful websites and a few tips.

That’s the list (which will almost certainly be amended) and so in the mean time, I’d be grateful for any further suggestions of what to include. I suppose there’s always going to be a problem when giving a talk or lecture etc., one has to consider how much time one has to deliver it and ultimately (if time is short), some things may have to be left out. In this instance however, there is no such problem as in the first place, there is plenty of time and in the second, the length of the actual talk may be somewhat flexible, so I’m happy.

I’ll probably be able to connect the laptop to a projector, this will act as a visual aid to the talk and will certainly help with the presentation. It’s true that “a picture tells a thousand words”.

Anyhow, that’s all I have to say about that except that it’s a chance for me to be a further ambassador for the hobby, something I feel is an important and positive step to show the true value of what we do! If anyone lives in Freckleton or is in the area and fancies an insight into the fascinating world of discovering the past with a metal detector, then come along!

I’ll be back soon so until then take care.

Regards Supernova :)

PERMISSION: Where To Go Metal Detecting In Lancashire Part 2…..Inland.

Greetings my friends.

This is Part 2 of my brief explanation of where to go metal detecting in Lancashire and in this section I will discuss the possibilities of metal detecting inland, with an example of a permission letter and search agreement template.

First of all and unfortunately, there is no denying that gaining permission for inland detecting is generally much harder than for the beach and we as detectorists must accept and not be put off by this – easy to say, I know! In contrast to the Fylde and Morecambe Bay beaches which have no restrictions imposed by the council, when one goes inland all this changes. One will need direct permission no matter where one goes either from farmers, private landowners, businesses or other land owners like English Heritage, Natural England or again from local councils.

The sometimes tarnished reputation of detectorists, partly due to a less than negative portrayal by some archaeologists/pseudo-archaeologists and partly due to those people (usually called nighthawks) who use a metal detector to perpetrate a crime; some landowners and farmers are reluctant to allow relative strangers to wander all over their land and metal detect. I can only say that I understand why thoughts like this occur but I must also say however (and this is especially for any farmers or landowners who are reading), that the majority of people who metal detect are sincere and honest folk, looking to reach back and touch the past, to connect with and preserve our heritage and to be responsible in every way. I feel frustrated at the negativity we detectorists sometimes face and it isn’t fair that some folk use these negatives as an excuse to cast a shadow on detectorists everywhere – everyone shouldn’t suffer from the actions and/or jealousies of the few!

So, what does one say or how should one introduce oneself, what type of approach etc? Well yes, there are lots of written examples on the subject but I feel most of them lack the “personal touch” somewhat – there isn’t enough “personality” in them, whether they be by letter or email, a request for permission, what to say when one is face to face on the doorstep or speaking on the telephone etc! So, here’s my view on how these things should go…..

The Introductory Letter or Email.

One can adapt this letter for any type of permission request but in this case, lets say one wants to obtain permission to metal detect an estate or farm etc. and this time, one has decided to send an introductory letter or email to make this request. This is my idea of the things to include, if one wants to seem more “human”.

Some important points worth considering:

  1. Name, address, telephone number, email address and date.
  2. Introduce one’s self and give a few intimate details like; age, family, interests and one’s love of history, the countryside and our heritage.
  3. Explain what connection metal detecting has and how it enhances one’s knowledge of history – the special feeling it gives you etc. and be passionate.
  4. Ask for permission to metal detect.
  5. How to dig a target with the least disturbance to the land, everything back the way it should be, that one is environmentally friendly.
  6. That one is covered by adequate public liability insurance (it comes free with membership of the NCMD or the FID; a must and its only about £8 or £10 a year to join).
  7. Respect the well-being and care of the animals and farm etc., one will become a sort of deputy for the care of the land.
  8. Will one decide to just state a time and day for a visit or will one ask for a written, telephone or email response to the request?
  9. Offer a service like the retrieval of jewellery, tools etc.
  10. Close the letter with politeness but don’t go over the top.

Membership for the NCMD… http://www.ncmd.co.uk/membershipforms.htm

Membership for the FID… http://fid.newbury.net/html/memlet.htm

An example of an introductory letter and request for permission:

On the right side of the letter: James Oliver, my address, telephone number, email address and date.

On the left side: the recipient’s name and address etc.

Dear Whoever,

My name is James Oliver and I decided to contact you by letter to explain my request before approaching you in person, as I did not want to call upon you at an inconvenient time and invade your privacy.

I appreciate that I’m a stranger to you so I would just like to tell you a few things about myself, if I may.

I am married with two grown up daughters and one grandson and I’ve lived in the lower Ribble valley all my life (58 years), I love nature, especially birds and mammals and I’m very passionate about enhancing the knowledge of our local history and heritage. The Ribble valley and surrounding areas have been occupied in the past by people from prehistoric times (Neolithic), through to Bronze age, Iron age Celts and thence the Roman occupation. Later, Vikings also used the Ribble valley to cross England and reach the Irish Sea and the river Ribble has played an important part in many other events throughout history, up until the present day. There are many potential places where these people could have dwelt and worked, to discover artefacts and coins from these historic times is a very exciting experience for me and it’s ability to provide a tangible connection to the past, is unique.

I would like to ask your permission to walk on your land and use a metal detector which will be able to find such artefacts if they are present and not too deeply buried in the soil. I would like to explain that when a “target” is found, the detector will pinpoint it very accurately and a 4 – 5 inch diameter plug of turf is raised (not severed or removed). If the target is not in the plug then another small amount of soil may be removed from the hole, down to a maximum depth of about 10 inches (4 – 5 inches on average), the loose soil will be placed on a small towel and poured back into the hole after retrieval. When the “target” is removed, the plug of soil and turf are replaced so that you would be hard pressed to tell any disturbance had taken place. On ploughed land I would remove a plug of soil and replace after target retrieval, with the same care.

I would like to stress that no Time Team like excavations would be carried out, that is not our way.

I have the utmost respect for the country code and the metal detecting code of practice agreed by the NFU (National Farmers Union) and the NCMD (National Council for Metal Detecting) and in addition, I’m covered by public liability insurance to the sum of £10 million, as approved by the NCMD.

I would completely adhere to any rules or restrictions you may feel appropriate and would have the greatest care and respect for your land and animals. I would report my attendance to you at all times and check that it wasn’t inconvenient in any way.

If any items of value are found (including those covered by the Treasure Act 1996), the usual agreement between yourself as landowner and myself as licensee, would be for a 50% share each of any rewards. I’ve included a finds agreement for you to have a look at and hope that you will find it acceptable. I will show you the finds I make in any case, so we can have a look and talk about them together.

In addition, if there are any items which have been lost by you or a family member i.e. jewellery, tools etc., I would be only too pleased to help try and find them for you. If any field needs nails or other sharp metal objects removing for animal safety, then I would gladly perform this service free of charge.

If you feel favourable towards the idea please give me a ring or send me an email, I’ve also included a stamped and addressed envelope, if you prefer. I would also be pleased to call at your convenience and discuss any questions you may have.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely

James Oliver.

Please feel free to use or edit this letter as you will and I hope it helps, just leave out any stuff you don’t want or think is unnecessary. For instance, I’m not sure about the stamped, addressed envelope as I’ve sent a lot of these out without ever having got a reply back in one and it was quite expensive!

Going Door To Door.

The next approach I wish to discuss, is visiting pre-selected farms and just knocking on the door and introducing one’s self, then just taking it from there!

One’s strategy for an introduction of oneself in a door to door approach, is slightly different from a written request for permission, the conversation may be less formal for one thing and of course, its person to person and not someone just reading a piece of paper, more of a chance to make a personal connection…..

Some Important Points To Consider when calling door to door:

  1. You are asking to go on their land so don’t take anything for granted, don’t interrupt when they’re speaking and always reply or explain something in a calm but not condescending way. This is something in part that I’ve had to keep check on with myself; I’m a very passionate and enthusiastic chap and I tend to speak louder, sometimes ramble on a bit and I sometimes don’t let the other person have their rightful say when I’m excited about getting my point across. I also gesticulate and I’ve been told that my enthusiastic manner sometimes comes across as a little overwhelming, even confrontational – that won’t do at all, in fact I was horrified when I was first told that some people had this impression of me. By all means, it’s a good thing to show one’s excitement, one just has to make sure that one doesn’t go over the top.
  2. One’s physical appearance is important too, how should one dress? Most folk recommend casual but smart attire and this is the option I go for too. I also like to be clean-shaven but if you like the “rugged” look of “designer stubble” then maybe it would be a good idea to neaten it up around the edges – first impressions and all that. I’ve found that looking presentable goes a long way, at the very least I feel better about myself which helps my frame of mind and thus, how I come across to the landowner.
  3. As with a written request, tell the landowner how metal detecting is done and how a target is safely retrieved with the minimum of disturbance, one can also offer to give a little demonstration of digging a plug, if one wishes.
  4. One should find out as much history as possible on the places one is going to visit; old maps, the library and old records may help – the library may also be able to give some extra guidance on where to obtain other sources of information. It’s a good idea to show the landowner any interesting evidence which turns up, as besides providing some fascinating information about their property and a great opportunity to talk to them about it (which is a good thing), it also shows one has discipline and is serious about history, research and the discovery of otherwise lost artefacts – in other words, it shows one has some character.
  5. It may also help to know a little about the type of farming which goes on in the area and more specifically, about the farm or estate itself – one can then talk a little shop with the farmer! It’s another warming character trait and it gives the right impression if one’s took the trouble to find out what the farmer does for a living and in any case, it adds to the complete picture of things.
  6. Don’t try to force any topics of conversation which one feels the landowner doesn’t wish to pursue and don’t make things clumsy by trying too hard to get all the above suggestions into the conversation.

Something about Metal Detecting Agreements, just so you know:

The landowner initially owns anything which is located on their land however, there are other legalities involved as soon as the detectorist (known as “the finder”) discovers the item. The usual agreement accepted throughout the UK, is for a share of 50% to the landowner and 50% to the licensee (as the finder), there should be few problems with this arrangement.

Remember, there are two of these declarations to sign, one for each of you!

Some farmers/landowners will prefer a hand-shake agreement rather than a signed declaration and this is OK too, a hand-shake is a bond of trust between two parties and is usually binding in principal for cases like these.

Below is one version of a metal detecting agreement I put together and in fact, it’s the one I now always use. I like simplicity but with a little formality and this fits the bill quite nicely, it only requires one signature each and is not over long, please feel free to use this as you will.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Metal Detecting Permission and Search Agreement.

Permission for the detectorist(s) known as the licensee(s), to walk this land with a metal detector and retrieve such artefacts and coins as can be found within its detecting range.

  1. The licensee(s) shall be a full member of the NCMD or the FID and be covered by an appropriate level of public liability insurance, proof of this insurance will be carried at all times.
  2. The licensee(s) shall adhere to the Code of Ethics set down by the NCMD and FID, which has been agreed by the NFU.
  3. The licensee(s) shall adhere to any other rules or restrictions (besides the above), laid down by the landowner.

Declaration.

I …(landowners name)…being the owner of the property known as…(landowners address)…do authorize…(your name) to walk on the land stated above and use a metal detector to find lost artefacts, coins or other metal objects.

If any artefacts, coins or any other metals of any value are discovered, the agreed share is for …50% of the reward each, for both the landowner and licensee, this also includes any finds which are covered by the Treasure Act 1996. 

Date the license is valid from…(start date of permission).

Signature of Landowner: —————————

Signature of Licensee: ————————-

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Anyhow, there are several good examples of search agreements on the web, one can use a version which suits you better or compose an agreement of your own, it’s a nice little exercise to involve oneself in.

As part of one’s identification, authenticity and aid to communication, one may obtain an additional advantage by having some business cards printed, something I’m seriously thinking of. Here’s a design I’m considering:

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The business card I’m thinking of.

In part 3, I will list and briefly discuss permission for other options which may present themselves as potential places to go detecting; places like common land and parks which are owned by the local councils, land owned by housing associations, large businesses or corporations, large private gardens and in fact, any other type of land or open space. Oh and any other stuff I can think of so…..

Until the next time my friends

Regards Supernova :)

PERMISSION: Where To Go Detecting In Lancashire Part 1…..Beaches.

;)  Hello my friends, greetings from an almost Top Secret location in Lancashire and hoping this communiqué finds you in good spirits.

The information I’m about to give is covered by the Official Secrets Act and anyone reading it must send me a sworn declaration in triplicate and signed in red ink. Anyone disobeying this order will be forced to go metal detecting at least once a week for a very long time, so in conclusion to this directive, the only thing left to say is………..HAPPY HUNTING FOLKS……….and here’s a little reminder of an important point which definitely applies to both land and beach:

No matter where one is detecting, it is important to follow the detectorists code of ethics like filling one’s holes, acting in a responsible way, taking home one’s trash etc. The code of ethics may be found on this page:

http://detectingblackpool.wordpress.com/code-of-ethics-2/

Lately, I’ve looked at the Stats page for this blog and there’s been a few Google searches for “places to detect in Lancashire”, or something very similar and so I’ve put together some thoughts on the subject, such as they are. I guarantee any information written here has been checked out personally by speaking with the relevant authorities.

Part 1 is about the beaches of Lancashire, situated on the north-west coast of England.

 The Lancashire Coast.

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The Lancashire Coast – from the river Ribble (south) to Silverdale, nr. Grange-over-Sands (north).

The Lancashire coast, which comprises all the beaches on the Fylde coast and all of Morecambe Bay, stretches from the south bank of the river Ribble, north to just beyond Silverdale (nr. Grange-over Sands), that’s about 65 miles/105 km. There are a number of very popular beach area’s en route and although other stretches of beach are away from the main spots, they too generally have a steady stream of human traffic with walkers, runners, local picnickers and others, all enjoying the sand.

Location and Permission for Beaches/Seaside Resorts of The Lancashire Coast.

Metal Detecting the Fylde Coast

The first area’s I wish to discuss are the Fylde coast beaches which include; Lytham St. Annes, Blackpool, Cleveleys and Fleetwood (and all the bits in between too). Even though there are several important towns along the Fylde coast, their beaches are essentially just part of one giant beach stretching from Lytham St. Annes in the south to Fleetwood in the north – about 13 miles/21 kilometres (as the crow flies).

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The Fylde Coast –  from Lytham St. Annes to Fleetwood.

Lancashire is governed on behalf of the Crown by the Duchy of Lancaster but Fylde beaches (which are part of the Duchy) are under the jurisdiction of Fylde Borough Council who is actually a tenant of the Duchy and so consequently (and to cut a long story short), there are no Crown Estate managed beaches on this stretch of the coast. Authority lies with the borough council for the management of the beaches and any activities which are carried on there.

I have spoken at length to Fylde Borough Council and metal detecting is permitted on all the Fylde coast beaches but not in/on any sand dunes which are located from Squires Gate (south Blackpool) to Lytham St. Annes. They are SSSI’s (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and the activity is banned, along with any other kind of digging activity.

There are no permits required for the Fylde coast and one does not need to ask permission to go on the beach and detect, just go and do it! The only request the council made to me was for detectorists to act in a responsible way, specifically mentioning the filling of holes. In any case, responsible detecting should be second nature to us and adhering to the code of ethics should be paramount.

The beach area’s from Lytham to Fleetwood are relatively safe, there’s no really dangerous gully’s or deep mud and one can walk and detect without concern for the tide rushing in behind, cutting one off.

Metal Detecting in Morecambe Bay

The beaches making up Morecambe bay are governed by Lancaster City Council on behalf of the Duchy of Lancaster and again, there are no restrictions imposed by the council about metal detecting in beach area’s. One does not need a permit from the council or licence from the crown estate and as with Fylde beaches, one doesn’t need permission, one can just go and detect but please remember my friends, no grassland – only beaches!

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Morecambe Bay – from Fleetwood to just passed Silverdale nr. Grange-Over-Sands.

It’s got to be said that certain area’s of Morecambe bay’s 120 sq mi/310 km², can be a very treacherous place to be for those folk who are unaware. At low water, its risky to go too far out on the sand due to the dangerous tides, mud or quick-sand and if one is also intent on performing some occupation or pastime, one can easily get pre-occupied and end up being trapped by water coming in between you and the land (and the tide comes in fast here). One only needs to think back to the sad events of 2004, when 23 inexperienced Chinese cockle pickers were caught out by the tide and drowned, this was a tragedy which shows the dark side of these sands.

Having said all that, these few tips will help keep one safe whilst out on the sand; keep alert to your surroundings and don’t go anywhere that looks risky, make sure of the way back up the sand to safety, check the weather (like fog and storms etc), check the tide times and make sure you return to the safety of the land within plenty of time and you’ll be OK, just tread carefully! Generally, we detectorists don’t go out on the sand as far as some people in Morecambe Bay (not like the cockle pickers for instance), so we’re in a better position to move off if we get caught out by the tide. There can also be area’s of soft mud nearer in, which can be awkward to escape from if one happens to wander into it, so watch out for any of this.

Tide Tables: http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/coast_and_sea/tide_tables

Along with a friend, I was detecting at Heysham (2 or 3 miles south of Morecambe) and we had some first hand experience of the problems mud can cause, my friend got himself well and truly stuck! There are some small cliffs at Heysham and we were detecting just below them where the rocks joined the beach, the sand looked almost benign with just a little mud showing, but when my friend stepped onto this, he sank. He tried to work himself free but just sank even further until he was up to his knee’s, he called me over and I found I could step in the mud round the edge without sinking, so I grabbed him and started to work him free. We both struggled, pulling this way and that until he suddenly came away from the mud but without his Wellington boots on, they were left sticking out and looked like they were from a comic strip cartoon. He was never in any real danger, we were always going to get him out but it did make us think of the treacherous nature of the sand and mud around here, especially that which is further out.

There is another concern along this coast line, again near the town called Heysham; a few years ago, live mortars were found on the beach after a storm and as this area was used as a testing range for these things during WW2, I would imagine there will be more still out there, so care is needed when digging. If one comes across any munitions like this, one must stop and tell the authorities immediately – just walk away and let the professionals deal with it!

In looking for likely spots to detect on the beach, one might find this page useful:

http://detectingblackpool.wordpress.com/areas-to-detect/

Anyhow, part 2 will cover inland detecting and will also include a letter of introduction to farmers and other landowners, gaining permission and find agreements.

Cheerio for now, Supernova :)

Camcorder Calamities and Detecting in the Woods…..

Hi there folks, how’s it going?

Having watched hundreds of metal detecting video’s on you-tube and realising how beneficial a visual accompaniment of this kind may be on the blog, I’ve thought more of late (always dangerous), about recording my detecting sessions and adding them to my posts. I feel such an addition will give a better representation of what it’s all about and enrich the post with a more in-depth and complete story of each outing. I’m excited at the prospect of doing this but also nervous, I know it will take me some time to work along the learning curve of filming and editing so that I get it just right. There will certainly be some camcorder calamities but it will be worth it in the end I promise; perhaps I’ll even throw in a little song and dance act as well :D

I was on the phone to an insurance company the other day and took out some life cover, part of taking out a policy is for them to send the signee a free gift on joining and one of the gifts on offer was a camcorder, so guess what I chose :D

The camcorder is only worth about £75 but will be OK for me to learn the basics on, it’s also lightweight and small, with 8x zoom and thinking about it, these type of camera’s are in fact called “pocket” camcorders. Anyhow, there’s not much I can do at the moment, the camera hasn’t arrived yet but when it does, I’ll get right on it. In the mean time…..

Below is a shot of where I was going to start detecting today and as one can see, it’s rather overgrown and tangled but still OK to detect in places, with open area’s between the tree’s and the rhododendrons. There was detritus and old leaves in a layer about 2″ (50mm) thick, resting on top of the soil, so it was especially important for me to detect with the coil very close to the ground, so close in fact that I would be skimming the surface of the leaves in places. This is OK, touching the ground now and then means you’re getting the coil down close enough to the soil and after all, your coil cover will offer protection against damage from scratches and little knocks – just what its meant to do. Incidentally, the coil will work just fine without a cover on at all, one just has to be much more careful about damage and for this reason it’s always best to have one – one thing to worry a little less about!

Remember: the closer the coil is to the ground – the deeper the magnetic field will penetrate the soil!

Now, notice the old fence post in the right of the picture, evidence of some activity here in day’s long gone; there’s more of these, scattered throughout this side of the wood, running in a more or less straight line and once fencing off a small stream which lies a little way beyond.

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In among the rhododendrons.

More fence posts but too much undergrowth and debris to detect here!

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Rather tangled and overgrown – the same as much of the woodland in this area.

Anyhow, always look for signs of any human influence or likely hiding spots, the older the better and in locations like the woods, who knows what might be hidden in the many secret places that dwell there? Some of the woods around here were established well over a thousand years ago and some were probably established longer than that (especially along the river), what a tale they could tell of the many comings and goings of people like the Romans, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Oliver Cromwell, witches and many more! Anyhow, I’m still working on a new page about British history and how it fits in with the river Ribble, this will explain more about the area I live in and its ancient past.

The wood eventually opened up a little and detecting was a little easier but the digging was tough, with lots of roots.

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A muddy path and some footprints.

These are my coin finds for today:

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Pennies, half-pennies and three penny coins, plus some later currency.

My first good find of the day was the pre-decimal penny shown at the top of this page, it’s quite worn with one or two other bits of damage but at least it isn’t too corroded. As you can see, I found several other pennies, half-pennies and three-penny pieces and the small pile of coins (bottom left), is a collection of modern-decimal and obsolete-decimal coins and including an obsolete Irish 10 pence piece. The coin positioned at bottom right is probably a George III penny but unfortunately, there is no detail to be seen.

The oldest coins were two Queen Victoria pennies 1899 and 1897 and a Victoria half-penny, also 1897. A couple of coins were from King Edward VII’s short reign with most of the other pre-decimal coins coming from King George V’s with a couple from George VI’s reign too. So including coins of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the other coin probably George III, that’s six British monarch’s found – nice!

There’s more to discover here so I’ll be back, until then take care!

Regards Supernova :D

 

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