A Brief History Of The Ribble…..Part 3


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Hi Guy’s

This being the third part of my brief history about the river Ribble and incorporating the Norman invasion of England.

Descended from Viking blood, the Normans began their conquest on the 14th October 1066 with the Battle of Hastings. William II Duke of Normandy (1028 – 1087) who is known as William the Conqueror, defeated King Harold II of England (1022 – 1066), who was killed and is alleged to have been shot in the eye with an arrow.

William contested the English throne after the death of Edward the Confessor and fought Harold at Senlac Hill just outside Hastings. After further military engagements including Canterbury, Winchester and Dover, he was crowned William I of England. This was the dramatic end of Saxon rule in England and the start of a new era.

(In recent years there’s been contention about the site of the 1066 battle, it’s been suggested that Caldbec Hill is the actual location not Senlac, this piece from the Telegraph will give you a clearer picture of this…)

The Bayeaux Tapestry.


Harold is shot in the eye. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

There’s also been several arguments concerning the tapestry’s story, one example being the question of how Harold died.

Some historians believe it was not by the traditional view of Harold being shot in the eye with an arrow. It’s been suggested that the arrow was added some years after the tapestry was made.

Interestingly, this work of art is not a true tapestry where people and scenes are woven into the cloth, but an embroidery where the scenes are stitched onto the cloth. It was probably made sometime in the 1070’s and is kept at the Musée de la Tapisserie de BayeuxBritain has a full sized copy which resides at the Reading Museum.

The Doomsday Book.

After some discussion with his esteemed council in December 1085, King William I ordered the compilation of the Doomsday Book. Its a sort of inventory about the landowners and land utilization of England, a description of how the land was worked and how people lived.

The two parts of the Domesday Book

The survey for the main book, “Great Doomsday”, took just under a year to complete and was finished around the beginning of autumn 1086. The actual book took much longer to create and some information had to be omitted due to its volume. This covered much but not all of England and included counties which had their borders pushed into Wales.

There’s another part of the Domesday Book called “Little Domesday”. It was carried out separately from the main book, but is much more detailed; a work covering the East Anglia region of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

The Doomsday Book was never completed but it nevertheless provides a great wealth of information about 11th Century England. It has been called Britain’s greatest treasure.

Norman Motte Castles on the Ribble.

Castle Hill

Remains of a Norman Motte Castle.
Castle Hill – North West corner of St. Mary’s Church Yard, Penwortham.

Situated on the lower Ribble at Penwortham and at the top of a small hill are St.Mary’s church and graveyard.

In the north west corner are the remains of a Norman Motte castle built in 1086 (on fortifications which were probably already there), by Roger de Poitou and stood in defence of a ford which crossed the Ribble nearby.

There was a serious excavation on the Motte in 1856 which revealed artefacts, several chambers and a stone platform about eleven feet (3.5m) down; a layer of kitchen waste was also found. This must have been an important and busy area with the castle and ford dominating the river in this locale. Norman soldiers stationed at the castle were in control of the ford, the comings and goings of traders, merchants, and farmers to and from Preston.

The castle mound site has been rightly designated as a Scheduled Monument and St. Mary’s Church as a Grade 11 listed building so both come under the protection of the law, these are very important designations which have helped preserve these structures.

St. Mary's Church - Penwortham.

The rear of St. Mary’s Church – Penwortham.

The church of St. Mary’s is situated on Church Avenue, looking down on the river. It’s steeped with an almost tangible atmosphere of time and history – one can reach out and almost touch it.

The earliest written record of a church on this site was from the 12th Century however, the oldest part of the present church was built in the 14th Century and had work done in the 15th and 19th Centuries.

It is thought by some researchers that there was probably a church here back in St. Wilfrid’s day (7th Century), the evidence of which has disappeared at some point in the years leading up to the Norman Conquest. With other evidence of occupation and rich cultural development in this area, I tend to favour this theory.

There have also been suggestions that the site was occupied by the Romans but I can find no evidence of this…..


Clitheroe Castle. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Another famous Norman Motte and Bailey castle and in much better condition, is located near the river at Clitheroe. Up on the hill and sitting on top of protruding limestone rock, it provides a great defensive view of the surrounding lands.

The castle is recorded as having been built by the second Robert de Lacy in 1186 however, there is some evidence to support the theory that it was actually the first Robert de Lacy who built the castle between 1102 – 1114. Again, possibly on fortifications already there and built by Robert de Poitou. There is suggestion of a document dating 1104, which refers to ditches and moats surrounding the castle but I’ve not seen any actual written evidence of this personally.

After William the Conqueror died, his eldest son Robert was made Duke of Normandy and his second eldest son William II, was crowned king of England, he ruled from 1087 – 1100. Henry I was the youngest son, he succeeded to the throne after his older brother William II died. Henry I rule lasted for 35 years from 1100 – 1135. He had a son William and a daughter Matilda but had many other children illegitimately.

Henry’s two sons, William and the illegitimate Richard, drowned in the English channel causing concern for the succession. Matilda was chosen to succeed after his death but was denied the throne by her cousin Stephen. He was the nephew of Henry and the grandson of William the Conqueror, he reigned for 19 years until 1154.

After becoming the widow of Emperor Henry V, Matilda married Geoffrey Plantagenet. It was agreed their eldest son Henry was to become king after Stephens death and he was subsequently crowned Henry II on the 19th December 1154. He was the first of 14 Plantagenet Kings who ruled England, ending with King Richard III’s death in 1485.

The next important events surrounding the Ribble include the history of Samlesbury lower and upper halls, witchcraft, priest holes, The Tudors and The Reformation. Hope you enjoy.

Until then, regards James :)






A Brief History Of The Ribble…..Part 2.


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Greetings My Friends.

This part will briefly describe the time period from the arrival of the Romans, through the middle ages or medieval period of the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings and up to the beginning of the Norman conquest in 1066.

The Romans.

Helmet Courtesy of the British Museum.

A Roman bronze parade helmet and mask found at Ribchester.
Courtesy of the British Museum.

One of the biggest impacts north-west England and the Ribble valley has experienced, was the arrival of Roman soldiers in about 69 A.D. They started a massive building project to build forts, towns and roads to join the already formidable Roman network, using their usual high standards of excellence.

By about 80 A.D. they had built roads and fortifications at Manchester, Ribchester, Kirkham, Lancaster, Burrow-in-Lonsdale and Castleshaw. The Romans continued to consolidate their position and by about 84 A.D., most of Lancashire was under their governance. They came as conquerors but also brought with them new technologies and better ways of living. Here’s a list of some of the more important advances the Romans made:

  • The Julian calendar
  • The census – the counting of a population
  • A superbly built road network/paved streets
  • Central heating/heated baths
  • Aqueducts (bridges with a channel to carry water)
  • Indoor plumbing/sewers /sanitation
  • Towns
  • Cabbages/peas/turnips/carrots
  • Grapes/pears
  • Education
  • Public libraries/notice boards
  • A fire and police service
  • Stinging nettles
  • Cats
  • Cement/concrete/bricks
  • Latin

On the river Ribble, probably known to the Romans as Belisama Fluvius, the two main area’s of occupation were at Walton-le Dale (Preston) and the more well-known Ribchester. Any other area’s of Roman activity, after they gained control of the area, seems to have been casual i.e. the passing of troops or the movement of supplies etc. There was a suggestion of Roman habitation at Penwortham (tidal stretch below Preston), on the site of the Norman Motte castle in St. Mary’s churchyard, but there is no written or physical evidence to support this.

It seems the Roman presence at Walton-le-Dale was for a military depot (location shown below) and from evidence uncovered during excavations in the 1980’s, it has been suggested that there were many workshops involved in the production of military equipment for distribution throughout the area. Evidence points to a large settlement nestled between the rivers Darwen and Ribble; this clip from Google earth shows the geographical advantages of this position.

Location or Roman military depot and settlement. Courtesy of Google Earth.

Location of Roman military depot and settlement.
Courtesy of Google Earth.

Due to a fortunate meander of the Ribble and Darwen, the camp was protected on three sides by water and the narrow gap before the land opens out again, much easier to defend. The Romans were no fools!

At Ribchester, which the Romans named Bremetennacvm Veteranorvm, the fort was large enough to house 500 soldiers and a well-ordered settlement, the layout of the roads remaining the same today. This was an important crossroads for the movement of troops and supplies, the roads connecting to the other major settlements and towns.

Roman Museum - Ribchester.

Roman Museum – Ribchester.

There are several superb finds in the Roman Museum like the Roman parade helmet (above), a Roman alter, a tombstone, Roman coins, a nit comb, tent pegs and other artefacts, these are being added to as more are discovered. There’s the foundations of a Roman bath house and other interesting features to be seen, when I get the chance I’ll photograph these for a future post.

When the Romans invaded Britain in 43 A.D., the resident population was of the pagan religion, it was not until about the second century A.D. that the first signs of Christianity began to appear. Part of a storage jug or vase called an amphora was found at Manchester, the Latin words “Pater noster” were inscribed upon it as an anagram. The words translate to “Our Father” – the beginning of the Lords prayer but the time-scale of the actual conversion of the Britons to Christianity is a little vague though.

Msap Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Romans ruled Britain until about 410 A.D. when the last Roman soldiers and officials left our shores but significantly, had vacated northern and western regions of England by about 383. The Roman empire was in serious trouble and could no longer support Roman occupation in Britain and elsewhere. The Empire finally collapsed in 476 A.D. and this was the beginning of the Middle Ages or Medieval period in Europe (also called the Dark Ages). However, it could be argued that the Medieval period began a little earlier in Britain with the departure of the last Romans in about 410 A.D.

Just to clarify things a little; the term “Dark Ages” not only refers to the initial decline in the standard of living when the Romans left, but probably refers more to the fact we have very little written or archaeological evidence from this time period – especially the first two hundred years after the Romans departure.

The Anglo-Saxons.

Pictish silver plaque

Pictish silver plaque. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

With the departure of the Romans and the protection they afforded, Romano-Britons faced trouble from the north in the form of invading Picts (Scottish Celts) and Scotti (questionably, Celts of Irish decent), who crossed Hadrian’s Wall, executing violent raids into England. About the same time, Germanic tribes including Saxons, Angles, Frisii, Jutes and Franks, generally termed Anglo-Saxons, invaded or migrated here and eventually formed and ruled kingdoms which later became known collectively, as England….

There were many Kings of the Anglo-Saxon era, an extensive list can be found here and may provide a good start for any research involving this period in history:

The Anglo Saxon Kings.

The Alfred Jewel

The Alfred Jewel – late 9th Century. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Although the Roman emperor Constantine the Great (272 – 337) and St. Augustine of Canterbury (no date – 604), both furthered the cause of Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church, it wasn’t until the mid-7th Century that increasing numbers of Anglo-Saxons/Britons were converting to the ‘new’ religion.

Commissioned by Alfred the Great and made from enamel, quartz and gold, The Alfred Jewel is thought to have been attached to a wooden rod used for pointing when reading a book. Alfred had one sent to each bishopric, accompanied by his translation of a book by Pope Gregory the Great and called “Pastoral Care”. One of the finer pieces of Anglo-Saxon Jewellery.

Importantly, it is from the spoken and written word of the Anglo-Saxons that our language of “Old English” developed. The language was derived from mainly western Germanic tongues and had some similarities to Latin, Icelandic and German, it originated in the 5th Century A.D. and was used until just after the Norman conquest.

St. Wilfrid's Church - Ribchester

St. Wilfrid’s Church – Ribchester

As Christianity gained more ground, Anglo-Saxons churches were being built up and down the country and Ribchester was important enough to merit one being built here. Before St. Wilfrid’s was constructed however, it’s thought that a small wooden church type structure stood from about the 6th Century until a small stone building replaced it by the middle of the 7th.

St. Wilfrid, who was the Saxon Bishop of Ripon and Archbishop of York, ordered the construction and although extensions and additions to the church were made over the years, this was the humble beginnings of the Church of St. Wilfred.

The Vikings.

300px-England_878.svgDanelaw – area of England where Viking laws prevailed over Anglo-Saxons. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In 793 A.D. the Vikings raided the island of Lindisfarne and plundered the church located there, this was the beginning of another period of change in Britain. After many more raids and conquests, increasing numbers of Vikings began to stay in Britain and integrate with the population, large settlements developed at York and Dublin (among other places) and there was constant boat traffic between NW England and Ireland.

The most direct route from York to Ireland and one that was used almost exclusively, was down the river Ribble valley. The Vikings would have boarded their ships as soon as the river was navigable and sailed straight down to the estuary and out into the Irish sea. There is evidence to support this in the form of place names like Clitheroe and artefacts including the famous Cuerdale Hoard (which I’ve mentioned in other posts), a monumental Viking treasure found in 1840 and located on the south bank of the river at Cuerdale, just upstream from Preston.

Cuerdale hoard Courtesy of the Telegraph.

Cuerdale hoard Courtesy of the Telegraph.

The treasure consisted of about 8,600 silver items incorporating coins, jewellery, scrap and ingots and remains one of the UK’s biggest and most important finds. The hoard was buried about 905 A.D. and there are many theories as to the reasons of why and who buried it there, one being that it was a war chest belonging to Irish Norse exiles who buried the silver to fund a return to Dublin after being expelled in 902 A.D.

Another theory suggests it was buried for safe keeping by its owner as they were living in unpredictable and turbulent times. For what ever reason though, the ‘owner’ of the treasure was unable to retrieve it and considering how much it must have been worth, meant there must have been a compelling reason as to why not.

This period in history lasted until about 1,000 A.D. and truly ended in England when the William the Conqueror became King of England, crowned on Christmas Day 1066.

Part 3 will continue with the Normans, the reasons behind the Norman conquest and their activity in north-west England; they were a people of Viking blood and their reign brought about some interesting developments in England – developments like The Doomsday Book…..

Until then, have a good week and take care.

Regards, James :)











A Brief History Of The Ribble…..Part 1


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Greetings My Friends

This post is the first in a small series which will hopefully explain a brief history of the river Ribble and how it fits in with British history in general. Research is a fascinating part of unearthing the past but with the use of a metal detector and the discovery of artefacts, the whole experience becomes tangible. They bring a wonderful connection to the people, the life they led and to the place where they lived (a really special feeling). With this in mind and when I’ve completed the series, I’ll transfer it onto a new page, for ease of access and to go with the page on biodiversity…..

An important note: Realistically, when discussing periods in pre-history, dates are an approximation only as there are significant transition times between periods of human development e.g. stone tools still being used in the Bronze Age, bronze tools still being used at the beginning of the Iron Age etc. A gradual change occurred between all the stages of human development, it’s only when we entered the Roman period and after, that historical data became more accurate and a more thorough record of history was evolved!

The Ribble has actually existed as a river for many thousands of years, but its present course was gouged out towards the end of the last ice age, about 20,000 years ago. As the ice receded, it’s thought that the whole of the Ribble valley was submerged in water and that deposited sediments raised the valley floor 4 – 5 meters. The river then cut its way through the sediment, along a line of least resistance which now forms the present course of the river.

The Stone Ages

Flint knife. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Flint knife. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

There are three main periods comprising the Stone Age – the Paleolithic, the Mesolithic and the Neolithic. The Paleolithic is the first and longest period of the stone age and is easily the longest ever time-span of human development. It includes Australopithecines and all Homo species which used stone tools for smashing, scraping, crushing and cutting. As we now think that humans spread out from Africa, the beginning of this era varies from about 3.3 million years ago to about 1 million years ago as one reaches Britain. A reasonable estimate for the end of the Paleolithic in Britain would be about 12,000 BC, when the Mesolithic (middle stone age) was emerging. Again this date varies dramatically, depending on one’s location.

One of the most important discoveries of human activity around the Ribble, dates back to the Mesolithic period and this exists as animal bones and stone age weapons. A skeleton of an elk was discovered a few miles north of the river Ribble at what is now Poulton-le-Fylde, the elk had some hunting injuries and barbed points (microliths) from a spear, harpoon or arrow were found with the bones. Microliths are attached to the spear head or arrow shaft with birch bark tar/resin and maybe some twine type thread but once the spear and barbs had penetrated the flesh, they would not easily come out and would most likely cause more damage. The animal was dated to around 11,500 BC.

Barbed spear head or harpoon. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

Mesolithic harpoon end with barbs/microliths. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

During this period Britain was being populated by people from the continent and as sea levels were lower in that period, one could walk across what is now the English channel. It wasn’t until about 6,000 BC, that sea levels had risen again to make Britain into an island. It may be said that customs, language and many other traits began to diverge from mainland Europe at this time, until we eventually became the ancient Britons that we know and love (or not)!

About the time of 4,500 B.C. the people of Britain began farming in small groups, settling down and living on the same land (sedentary). Wild foods were being relied upon less and less, some crops were grown and animals like pigs were reared; the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was in decline. It was not until the Neolithic period began in Britain (about 4,000 B.C.) however, that a sedentary existence became established and relied upon.

The Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages

Bronze age axe head with hidden gold rings. Courtesy of the BBC.

An example of a bronze age axe head with hidden gold rings (found in Lowestoft). Courtesy of the BBC.

Around 2,700 – 2,300 B.C. the beaker people arrived in Britain from the continent and brought with them revolutionary technologies. New forms of pottery and new methods of extracting and working with metals like copper and gold. This is known as the Chalcolithic Age, a transition period between the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.

By about 2,000 B.C. Britons had mastered the art of combining tin with copper to form bronze, a much harder metal than just copper alone. This meant stronger and better hand tools for working and cutting wood, bone, meat and hides etc. and better weapons for hunting and warfare. The Bronze Age had arrived in Britain and it’s likely that this knowledge and skill were again learned and adapted from interactions with people from the continent.

Bleasdale timber circle - Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Bleasdale timber circle – Courtesy of Wikipedia.

During the Mesolithic, large monuments and megaliths were under construction, being added to or refined; Stone Henge and Avebury are two such monuments worked upon during this period. Besides, a rare timber circle was constructed at Bleasdale only a few miles from the Ribble. Concrete posts have been set in the wooden post holes and one can see the east causeway entrance, the ditch and the circle itself.

The Iron Age Celts


Iron Age roundhouse.
Courtesy of the BBC.

The Iron Age in Britain began around 800 B.C. and new metal working technology again spread throughout the UK, heralding the most revolutionary era yet. The Iron Age was the time of the tribal Celts which incorporated the mysterious Druids; men and women who led people in religious ceremony or rituals. These probably involved sacrifice and druids were held in some revere but unfortunately, little is known about them and most of our knowledge comes from a few written accounts.

There were several different groups of Celts throughout Britain but the large tribe which inhabited this northerly part of England were called the Brigantes. Our local sub-tribe to this group was called the Setantii (dwellers in the water country) and traditionally, it is thought that the Setantii mainly inhabited the Fylde coast area and there is some archaeological evidence to support this.

It is suspected there was an Iron Age port near Fleetwood as when the Romans reached here, they named it Portvs Setantiorvm (Port of the Setantii).

The examination of human teeth and bones show that Iron Age folk usually had a short life-span, it’s thought that a lot of people died during childhood and of those who reached adulthood, two-thirds died between 35 – 45 years of age. The hard life, disease and nutritional deficiencies have been blamed as the commonest causes of death.

The Excavation Of Preston Docks

When the river Ribble was re-directed and Preston dock excavated, HRH Albert Edward Prince of Wales, laid the foundation stone of Albert Edward dock on the 17th July 1885 and opened the dock when it was completed in 1892. During the excavation, more evidence of Neolithic, Bronze, Iron Age and later cultures were found.


This is a picture of the Ribble before it was diverted to build the docks, this stretch being filled in. Taken from Whinfield House in 1863 and by courtesy of the Lancashire Evening Post.

The location of present day Morrison’s is just where the fence approaches the river – hard to imagine, I know; the dock being in the fields over the river.

One of the more spectacular finds was a Bronze Age canoe, hollowed out from a single tree trunk. When archaeologists were called to survey the artefacts and the excavation itself, it was deemed an area of deposition and not of habitation. This does make sense as here the south bank of the river would have been subject to a progressive deposition in a northerly direction over the millennia and consequently, no further archaeological work was done.

In addition to the dock finds, Bronze Age axe heads were found at Walton-le-Dale, Bronze and Iron Age artefacts were found at Ribchester village and many other items have been discovered in varying locations along the river Ribble.

The next post in this series will continue with the arrival of the Romans and what impact that had on the Iron Age Celts of the Ribble valley and NW England…..

Until then my friends, take care.

Best wishes, James :)












A Gold Ring With Diamonds…My Preciousssss!


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Greetings My Friends

When I was in my late teens, the students who were in my year at college, organised a sort of party. It wasn’t the kind of party where everyone was drinking and generally behaving badly, though we did have those kind too but no, this one was a grown up, intellectual, social gathering!

I’ve always been the scientist type, never reading anything which wasn’t related to my latest “project” or “theory”, so I felt out-of-place when a group of students I was talking to (only three of which I knew), started discussing literature. Anyhow, I was talking to one of the female students whom I didn’t know and trying to sound well read and intelligent, when this chap came up and said to my new friend, “have you asked him the ultimate question?”

I was flummoxed but my new friend and the invader just smiled at each other and with a kind of reverence she asked, “have you read Lord of the Rings yet?”. I’d never heard of it! I began asking around and found that this was a book by a man called J R R Tolkien and apparently once started, one would not be able to put it down.

This new book, which took about twenty years to write, was a fantasy about elves, dwarves, orcs, wizards and something called hobbits….. strange! I started to read the book about twelve months later and what an experience – magic, wonderful, fantastic, beautiful and with hand on heart, I can say I’ve never had a reading experience like it – ever! Boy, the number of times I began reading in bed and just carried on all night, reluctantly putting the book down in the morning and then having to get ready for work!

Another gold ring from Lytham

Another gold ring from Lytham beach.

I ranted on and on about the book and it’s characters to my brother and close friend, so much so they eventually nicknamed me Gollum – and its stuck, down through all these years (about 40). I also get called this in public and its especially funny on the beach when my mate shouts it at the top of his voice, everyone looks at him and then me, I suppose they think we’re crazy – I suppose I think their right!

Detecting At Lytham

I again managed to go on an impromptu detecting trip to Lytham this week, it was a nice day and I had a few hours free. I don’t usually venture out this late in the day but I just had an unstoppable urge to go detecting – I think I may be suffering from gold fever again!

I get this condition often, usually when I’ve watched treasure hunting and gold prospecting video’s but anyhow, they get me thinking and it’s not long before I’m obsessed with gold again. Off I’ll go to the beach, usually to have my dreams shattered once more as I probably won’t find any. It’s not fair “oh no precious, not fair at all!”


The old wooden pier at Lytham; notice the lower, wet area just in front.

One might just be able to see that the sand has been raked, almost to the wet part – my starting point.

The first find of the day was a door mechanism and it looked relatively new. I mean, did someone just happen to have this in their pocket, walk out on the beach and then dump it on the sand? They must have done something like that! Anyhow, without further ado, here’s the finds:



The wet sand stretched just past and north of the main pier and I covered it all, with only two more modern pennies detected. I moved a little closer to shore and started working parallel to it and about 100 yards out, I was still north of the pier though.

It was slow going but I steadily put a few more finds in the pouch. I’d been on the sand for about three hours and automatically digging all signals in the pull-tab/foil range, when I received yet another lower tone, similar to a few others but it was this:

Engagement ring.

9ct gold engagement ring.

A 9ct gold engagement ring with seven small diamonds, I was in a dream. It was only 4 or 5″ deep and this is the first gold item I’ve found north of the pier, the others have been on the more popular beach to the south. It took me a while to calm down after this, that’s if I did, it’s not often I find gold nowadays. One things for sure now though, even if I hadn’t before, I’ve definitely caught gold fever now!

As well as the pile of modern change, I also found a Canadian $1 coin, a 50 Euro cent coin and a discontinued UK 50 pence piece (1969), which proved to be my oldest of the day. One generally doesn’t find as many pre-modern coins here as one does at Blackpool and probably not as much modern coinage either, but one doesn’t have to “read” the beach as much. I mostly stick to the beach area’s around the pier, maybe a hundred and fifty yards either side and as far out as to be level with the end – just persevere.

Anyhow folks, that’s all for now but I’ll be back soon with another tale of buried treasure. Until then my friends, please take care and to all my detecting pals out there – Happy Hunting :D

Best wishes, James.

Garrett AT Pro (International) And Metal Detecting The River


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Greetings My Friends.

I’ve been having an impulse these past few years (oh dear, guys!), an impulse to explore the rivers and streams in this locale (permission granted, of course) and use a waterproof metal detector. As far as potential detecting opportunities are concerned, I live very close to several rivers and streams, those being my beloved Ribble and it’s tributaries and I know them well. In that instance, I’m extremely lucky, as it gives me plenty of scope for exploring, lots of places I can ask for permission and all within 10 miles of home. In addition and to my great delight, there are a number of waterproof detectors on the market nowadays, one of which could open up this new world for me, though pricing is going to be the main limiting factor.

This type of request for metal detecting permission may (fingers crossed), prove easier than it normally does (it doesn’t interfere with the actual land) and in my opinion, many of the locations have great potential to produce some marvellous finds. So then, here’s the thing…..

Some amphibious machines, like the all singing and dancing Minelab CTX 3030, are totally out of my price range and are about £2000 retail. Although the CTX is reported as very good on land, rivers and in the sea (max depth 10′) and would be OK to own, my plan would be to use the detector in fresh water only and I think a more practical choice, would suit me better.

Less than half as much as other amphibious detectors like the Excalibur II and less than a third of the price of a CTX 3030; the Garrett AT Pro (International), at around £549 new, looks the right choice for what I have in mind. (The AT stands for All Terrain and the “International” just means the European version of the detector).

Garrett AT Pro International.

Garrett AT Pro (International) – amphibious detector. There is also a smaller coil available (5″ x 8″) and this will be my first choice, on most occasions!

The Attraction

Other than Minelab detectors, Garrett are the brand I’ve had most experience with and I like them (my friend uses Garrett and we sometimes swap). What influenced me further, were some video’s I watched of Beau Ouimette, finding 200 or so large silver coins from about 1750 to 1837 and lots of civil war bullets and artillery shells, from a few creeks and small rivers he visited…..good stuff.

Indeed, coming from a reputable company, being able to detect in the water (max depth 10′), it’s mid-range price and the fact it has some great specs and features, are the atributes which attracted me to this particular all-terrain machine.

Wrecked car and a very unimpressed cormorant!

Having been in this part of the river for years, this dumped car was probably washed down from a few hundred yards upstream. The cormorant seemed unimpressed!

The Ribble, especially in the tidal sections, is heavily infested with iron debris including; nails, pipe, bits of fence wire, a couple of old crumbling cars, bits of steel mesh, old boat accessories, nuts, bolts and many discarded luncheon meat and sweetcorn tins. There are other metal contaminants like bronze, brass, lead and lots of aluminium pop/soda cans and beer cans.

It’s not my idea to have the detector fully submerged all the time, not by any means, but it will be great not to worry about the control box circuitry in wet conditions and be able to wade so far into the river and properly submerge it, if I so choose. There must be lots of lost artefacts lying undiscovered in the Ribble itself, trapped under the gravel, crevices in the bedrock or behind obstacles such as large boulders etc. After all, there’s been a lot of stuff which has occurred on, around and sometimes in the river; Romans, Vikings, monks, civil war battles, baptism’s, rape and pillage, old swimming spots, fords and a prolific river trade until the mid 20th Century, just to mention some of the main ones.

Besides my analysis of the Ribble’s potential based on historical events, there have been several random finds made by the public, which also support this theory. One of the latest of these was a bronze Roman finger ring, discovered by a chap walking on the banks of the Ribble at Ribchester, in 2009 and the Roman Museum has many other artefacts on display, found by chance or otherwise…..

A relatively shallow part of the river.

A relatively shallow part of the river Ribble, one can easily see the bedrock. Note all the cracks and crevices where artefacts may be trapped and one may wade the above stretch (including the channel), when the river’s at summer levels.

I’ve visited the above location when the river was below summer level, much of the bedrock was exposed and the only running water was carried by the channel at the far side. A location which allegedly saw soldiers of Charles Edward Stuart (otherwise known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or The Young Pretender), cross the Ribble to escape (around Nov 1745), after the second failed Jacobite uprising to restore a Stuart to the English throne. Preston actually had a significant number of Jacobite sympathisers and Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed there on at least one occasion, during his campaign.

Tread Carefully!

Besides cheerful issues like injury, drowning and disease, there’s another concern for potential river detectorists – the cold (or am I a softy?). It’s peculiar, but when one gets used to the temperature of the water and is totally captivated by what one is doing, the cold creeps up without realising. In a very short space of time (after becoming aware of the cold), it’s a desperate race to get out of the water, dry off and pile on some warm clothes. Whilst one is doing all this, one has to contend with shivering uncontrollably and violently chattering teeth (having a long walk back to the car, certainly helps with the shivers)!

I cannot see many occasions where the air and river temperature would allow me to wear just shorts and tea-shirt whilst in the river, like in some of the vids I’ve watched – I think I’ll need a neoprene wet suit 99% (or more) of the time! I was pleasantly surprised when I looked into the cost of wetsuits, neoprene has certainly come down in price these last few years and I’ll be able to buy one for under £100. This standard should be suitable for all my needs and if my other clothing is anything to go by, it’s going to get some rough treatment.

Something To Wet One’s Appetite

As a matter of interest, I’ve placed a yellow pin on this google image to show where a massive Viking treasure, in relation to the town of Preston and Walton-Le-Dale, was found by workmen in 1840. The Cuerdale Hoard is one of the most important discoveries made on the Ribble, which help prove the Ribble’s potential for yielding something else truly magnificent. Many wonderful discoveries have been made on other famous rivers in the UK, like the Thames and Severn but in any location, rivers will hold some important history of that area.


The river Ribble, where the Cuerdale Hoard was found – a Viking treasure of over 8,600 pieces of silver. (Please click and enlarge).

In every respect, I know the Ribble is the most talked about river in this area, but it’s a big river and was a major trade route. All the other rivers and streams drain into the Ribble and are part of this historic system and although lost or hidden artefacts may be fewer, the rivers are much smaller and shallower – much more easily covered with a detector. The smaller rivers and streams are less explored, less known and in days long gone by, were more heavily wooded, unmanaged and more secret – perfect for a naughty Viking to stash a little silver (with my name on it)! All things being considered though, I rate the potential of these tributaries as good but less than the Ribble however, there have been stories…..

Anyhow, if anyone has any opinions about the AT Pro, I would be very grateful for them and I will certainly take them on board. Thanks guys.

Until the next time my friends, take care and to all my detecting buddies – Happy Hunting!

Regards James :)



Detecting At Lytham…..Foiled Again!


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Greetings My Friends

The competition at Lytham is fierce!

The competition for gold is fierce at Lytham!

It was about 8-00am when I arrived at Lytham and for this late in the season, the weather was superb. There was no wind, it was nice and warm but not hot, and the sun was shining. One of those rare day’s when it was really comfortable to dig on the open sand and I wasn’t the only one digging – those pesky detector people get everywhere!

I met a friendly couple just north of the pier, a man and wife detecting team and we stopped for a nice chat. They were used to fields and were members of a club, they’d found several hammered coins and Roman brooches, but the sand was a new experience for them. I think they enjoyed themselves and they did find quite a few coins, but I had the impression they felt a little strange about it (understandable). It’s the first time I’ve ever seen an XP Deus up close and wow peeps, I never realised they were so slim and trim. The woman had a Technetics T2, a machine I’m not personally familiar with but I could tell she loved it and that counts for a lot with one’s detector.

The next person I bumped into was accompanied by his young son, they’d just upgraded from a Garrett Ace 250, to a Minelab E-Trac and the little lad was enthralled. Having detected their front yard/garden with the Ace 250, quite a large space from what I could gather and having found some silver shillings and sixpences – they were hooked! I think the jump from the Ace to the E-Trac shocked the chap a bit, but I gave him as much encouragement as I could (or at least, I hope I did) but the man at the shop had already put him on the right track (or should I say trac?). They stayed around for a couple more hours, by which time the beach was filling with people and I lost sight of them; they’d moved to the other side of the pier.

As far as digging is concerned, detecting at Lytham is easy and stress free, the beach has hardly any gradient at all and the sand is easy enough to dig. Lytham beach is at the very limit of the tide’s normal ranges and under relatively calm conditions, the water never quite reaches the top of the beach. It’s a fairly relaxed family atmosphere at Lytham, one reason being the relatively shallow water – I suppose the sea here’s as safe as it can be (touch wood)!

Unless there’s a violent storm, the sand hardly ever gets stirred up, so finds mostly stay where they are dropped and don’t usually get moved around – they just sink! The damp sand seems to be firmer than at Blackpool, perhaps this is also an effect of the lesser tide action, allowing the particles to settle and compact easier. There are bands of black or very dark grey sand quite near the shore and only just under the top layer of red sand. I don’t know if this is true black sand, like when the beach is scoured but it’s certainly denser than the normal stuff and besides, I’ve found a few items of gold in there, oh yes!

The top of the beach is usually dry for most of the year (unless the biggest tides and/or rough sea’s come in) and I’ve detected this bit on several occasions, with varying stages of mostly poor success. I know this strip of sand is raked on a regular basis and is detected regularly, or maybe I’m not approaching it as I should but it gets packed with people and I feel there should be more finds here. Today for instance, I walked on the dry sand and within one minute, had found a £1 coin – I spent a further hour and a quarter here and found…..nothing! I’ve now come to expect this and that might be part of the problem – if one loses confidence, one reduces one’s performance (well, in my case)!

It was so hot by mid-morning that I had to take my earphones off, something I rarely do but I couldn’t stand it any longer. Besides, I really wanted to try detecting without them…..

File:StateLibQld 2 96080 Young people playing in the sea, 1933.jpg

People enjoying the sea – days long gone by. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

Anyhow, having deemed to have spent enough time on the dry sand, I moved to a section on the wet, where I imagined kids and parents would play when the tide was at its highest. It’s also a good place for people to sit in the water and cool off, mess around with beach balls and to generally act the goat – a good place for things to become lost!

I walked a zigzag line down the damp strip and every time I made a find, I spiralled around that spot, hoping there’d be more spilled goodies. I found a couple more £1 coins and some change – most of the coins had been in the sand for a while. As I looked back at the pier, I realised I’d travelled further than I thought and I still wanted to move out to another section of damp beach.

This was a swathe of sand about level with the end of the pier (people usually like to relate to a landmark or building etc., when they’re swimming or messing in the sea). I detected my way out to the swathe and started the same zigzagging back down the beach, to the beautifully kept Victorian structure. I found several 2 pence coins and one 5 pence coin, but didn’t find any other interesting pieces. I was approaching the pier now and had to decide my next move, so I stopped to review my position.

The dry sand was out-of-bounds, there were just too many people on it by now and as I looked south, the entire area that side of the pier seemed to be teeming with people, all in the midst of various beach activities. I decided to wander around north of the pier, near the high tide mark but out on the damp sand by about ten metres…..three more £1 coins and some more small change went in the pouch…..

The Finds

The Finds

I hit a spot where the detector was a little more musical than usual and there just happened to be several couples passing. We were all similar in age and had many things in common; like pre-decimal currency, the 1950’s and 60’s, hippies and flower-power (make love not war, man!) and ballroom dancing…..we looked back with a nostalgia born of fond memories.

Someone asked about signals and how one tells the difference between targets…..this was the beginning of the demo. I put out a selection of coins, a couple pieces of foil and two pull tabs. I placed them in a well spread out line and demonstrated how the different tones sound…..I was just working out how best to explain about gold signals sounding like pull tabs, when even better, someone asked me what gold sounded like. I was delighted!

I borrowed a likely looking gold wedding band from a member of the impromptu audience and put it next to a pull tab. Up until now they understandably thought one gets a signal and the detector identifies it one hundred percent and I hadn’t said anything to the contrary, not yet anyhow. It came as a complete surprise then, when the ring and pull tab sounded so alike, no-one could tell them apart! I explained about foil – jewellery, gold rings – pull tabs, sounding so much alike and then showed them the trash I’d found – each little piece, a hole dug and filled in. They were surprised at the amount.

In my next post, I’ll be telling you about my choice of detector for hunting the river Ribble and I’ll tell you about the locations on the river I wish to hunt and what attracted me to those places.

Until then, take care my friends, James :)

Metal Detecting Permission: Beaches.


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Greetings My Friends

Lately, I’ve been looking 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.


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).


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 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 this includes metal detecting. This link is to a map from Crown Estates showing the NW coast of England (area’s in purple require a crown estate permit):


From the map and having spoken at length to Fylde Borough Council, I discovered 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. No permit or permission is required.

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 around the town of Morecambe and most of 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. No permit or permission is required and as with Fylde beaches – just go and detect, but no grassland or dune. There is an area of crown estate in the far north of Morecambe bay and a permit will be required for here.

  • Again, please see the link to the Crown Estate map of NW England above.

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, stop and call the police 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:


The Other Side – Sefton Coast.

After several enquiries from some of my friends, I think its relevant to mention the beaches and dunes just across the Ribble estuary on the Sefton part of the coast as after all, this is essentially part of the same ecosystem as the dunes and beach on the Fylde.

Now, the rules for metal detecting on this part of the coast are a little more complicated than for the Fylde. The sand dunes are out-of-bounds  – period, they are another very important SSSI and no digging or detecting activities are allowed on them.

I phoned Sefton Borough Council a little while ago and I had a not so simple task of finding out which area’s of the beach were available to the detectorist. There are three official bodies which control the Sefton beach area’s as well as the dunes; Sefton Borough Council, Natural England and The National Trust.

Sefton Borough Council said they were generally OK about detecting on their beach, which practically starts at the pier in Southport but were very apprehensive as to where the council beach ended and came under the control of Natural England. I was also advised to speak with The National Trust, who control the beach even further south. I’m sure this could be pinned down to more exact boundaries but this is all I have for now.

Permission to detect is issued at the discretion of Natural England and The National Trust, I tried several times that day but could get no answer from either contact number and I must admit, I’ve never tried since.

These are the phone numbers I was given for enquiry:

The National Trust: 01704 878591

Natural England: 01704 578774

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, James :)

Metal Detecting A UK River?


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Greetings My Friends

Of late, I’ve noticed a few search terms about boundaries and permission to metal detect, around or in the river Ribble and UK rivers in general. My inland permissions have come to an end and as I’ve already wrote a couple of articles about gaining permission already, I thought I’d continue this theme with a few words about metal detecting in UK rivers and the Ribble in particular. As far as UK law goes however, this is my interpretation!

Unlike the Lancashire coast for instance, which has no restrictions for MD (except on the dunes), one needs permission for absolutely everywhere inland – including the river bed.

Access, Boundaries And Permission

In the UK, similar laws apply to rivers as much as they do on land and vary only slightly in that the water itself is never actually owned, just the land and river bed. For instance, the problem which kayakers face on a regular basis, is an example of how this may work in a negative way for the hobbyist.

The kayaker may paddle on the (free?) water for as far as they want but may only access and exit the river on certain friendly farms or public access area’s. This can make things difficult if one needs to make an unscheduled removal of one’s kayak from the river. Many people including walkers, swimmers, boaters, picnickers and fishermen are concerned about the number of undisputed access points to UK rivers, especially above the tidal stretches!

1890's map of the Ribble, showing the boundary running down the middle.

The boundary: 1890’s map of the Ribble, showing the boundary running down the middle of the river.

A river is a very dynamic environment, that is, it’s always changing. The action of moving water, on its own, is enough to slowly cause erosion and change to the river bed. If the water is moving under flood conditions and considerable destructive force however, then local changes may occur, in a very short time. Local changes in the path of the river bed may, in some exceptional circumstances, raise questions about the boundary in that area…..

Generally speaking, it’s the people whose land adjoins the river, who will own part/whole of the river bed in that local area. In the UK, depending on how the boundary agreement has been drawn up, ownership of the river bed may be as follows:

  1. Where the boundary runs down the middle of the river, the landowners will each own and be responsible for, their half of the river bed.
  2. Where the boundary runs down one side of the river bank or the other, meaning that one landowner will own and be responsible for all the river bed, whilst the other’s land will end at the rivers edge.
  3. Ownership of the entire river bed may also occur when a river (and both its banks) are located within a property or more likely, an estate.

Riparian Ownership

When looking at UK law about this subject, one comes across the mention of “riparian ownership” and “riparian responsibilities”. These are specific laws for all waterside landowners and will, in the case of a river, include part or all the river bed, where applicable. They include bankside maintenance, land irrigation restrictions, public access (if any) and laws governing the flow of water and of people being able to use the river for trade (not much trade on the Ribble now!).

As places and populations develop, sets of by-laws may accompany the laws of the river and the lands which flank it.

The Standard - Duchy Of Lancaster

Duchy Of Lancaster Standard

Here in Lancashire, the Duchy of Lancaster has control of the foreshore on behalf of the crown, but in practical terms, doesn’t affect the Ribble above the estuary. Anyhow, here’s a couple of points about the Ribble:

  1. The Ribble estuary has several SSSI’s (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and is a NNR (National Nature Reserve) – there is no metal detecting here at all!
  2. All the lands and river bed above the estuary to the source, are controlled/owned by someone. Public access is easiest on the tidal sections around Penwortham/Preston. Always seek permission from the landowner but speak to the tenant (if applicable), as a matter of courtesy.
  3. If one does get permission to detect the river, don’t dig in the river bank itself, just the bed or the field behind – it’s against the law to cause damage or weakness to the banks!

The Bottom Line

Generally then peeps, whether it’s foreshore, tidal stretches of the river not termed foreshore, councils or independent landowners like farmers etc., it comes down to the same thing for those of us who want to hunt rivers in the UK – we need permission (in any of its forms) from the landowner (whoever that may be).

The River Thames

It’s worth noting that mud larking and metal detecting on the river Thames foreshore is subject to very special conditions, a permit is required and other restrictions apply to certain area’s. Here’s a link to the Port of London Authority, who issue permits for the Thames foreshore…..


I’ll be honest with you now, the way my “jitters” are at the moment, means its going to take a very determined effort to approach more landowners and ask for more permission, in any case. It’s a really nerve-racking task for me, but I’ll give it my best shot and try for some positive results (say’s he), but without doubt dear friends, I wish that bit was over :(

I’ve nearly completed another post about detecting in the river Ribble and what type of detector I’m going to save up for, as I hopefully get permission to venture into the water.

In addition, I made a detecting trip to Lytham last week, so I’ll tell you about it very soon. It really was a lovely day and for once, everyone else who was near could hear the signals, as I detected without earphones and had it on loud-speaker. At one stage, there was a smashing crowd of people gathered around and I gave a little demonstration of how the different tones sound, on different targets – it was great and was the highlight of the day!

See you soon and take care, James :)










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Greetings My Friends

Metal detecting at good old Blackpool yesterday and it was smashing to get out and experience the freedom of the beach again. As I turned down my favourite street, the very first parking space was free (I couldn’t believe my luck), so that not so little problem was solved – joyous! I’d packed my sandwiches and flask and after five minutes messing around, my other stuff was together and I was ready for some serious business.

It was 9am but there were lots of people already walking on the beach, I did rather expect this however, as it was a nice and bright but not too windy start to the day. As I approached South Pier, I made a mental note to move up the beach a little, the very next time I’m detecting. I’m in a rut and have spent too long around this end of the promenade, its time for me to have a go around the central pier area and then further north.

The beach, to my utter dismay, seemed to have a lot of extra sand on it. There were only a few pebbles scattered here and there and only two area’s further out where the sand appeared somewhat lower. It was about 2 hours before low tide, the area furthest out was nicely draining of water and since time is more of a limiting factor the further out one goes, I decided to start there. Off I merrily trotted, my optimism and determination outflanking the disappointment I felt when I first saw all the extra sand. Images in my head of silver coins and gold rings – having to work hard for them, certainly, but with ultimate success nevertheless.

But here’s what I found:

The finds.

The finds.

From how things are at Blackpool at the moment, this seems to be par and it took me five hours to achieve it. I like bullets and I found a few of those, including a live .303 round which has been scoured by the sea and sand. There aren’t many coins at all and this is a little surprising as there are several more targets which would normally inhabit the same layers and are usually good signs. The fishing weights, lead bullets and other pieces of lead were a little deeper and gave me more encouragement but alas, not much else came forth. The three pre-decimal pennies I found (just right of centre), are George V (1908, 1911) and George VI (1937), they were shiny bright when they came out but had tarnished by the time I’d got home. The two coins on the far right are amusement tokens and a small pile of loose change at the top.

I like the old coca-cola bottle top, it’s in very good condition; this is due to it’s being in the virtually oxygen free wet sand for so long – nice! The ring is just junk I’m afraid but it did give me a little twinge at first and there’s also a ceramic light fitting, a Stanley knife case and a couple of old shotgun cartridge caps!

I was satisfied with my performance today, even though good targets were scarce, I did not succumb to complacency and begin to let my concentration lapse (and start to think about the “other” things). Oh yes, one eccentric but nice thing which occurred this morning as I arrived (I had a quick look at Squires Gate, south Blackpool), was a chap with a bugle and a small stand. He played the Reveille and it was a rousing performance I can tell you, I enjoyed it very much and stopped to listen. After he’d finished, he just packed up and left without a word or nod, his job done – he’d played the morning awake, it was quaint! (The bugle has a rich military history).

Well folks, that’s all for now but I enjoyed the trip and I’ll be venturing on another soon, I hope. See you then!

James :)


Coins Galore – (detectingblackpool.wordpress.com)

An Introductory History Of The Bugle – (tapsbugler.com)

A Guest Post By Gene Knight Of Kellyco Metal Detectors


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Greetings MY FRIENDS

It is my pleasure to introduce Mr Gene Knight, sales director of Kellyco Metal Detectors, who’s wrote a guest post on a subject which holds a special fascination for me. You’ll be captivated by this insight, into what was one of the most important and influential developments in infantry warfare…..

History in the Palm of Your Hand

The Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history. Over 200,000 lives were lost and nearly 500,000 suffered non-fatal injuries. Part of the reason for the huge amount of bloodshed was that medicine had not yet advanced far enough to treat many of the injuries, but the main reason had to do with the weaponry soldiers used to fight. Prior to the Civil War, the smoothbore musket was commonly used in battle. These weapons were cumbersome and difficult to load; bullets had to be equal in diameter to the barrel, and rammed into the musket by force. This type of reloading simply took too long when in the midst of an engagement. The arrival of the rifle musket and the minie ball changed all that.

The minie ball was revolutionary because it was slightly smaller than the intended gun bore, therefore easier to load. Soldiers could then load and fire four rounds in about a minute. The minie ball was designed with two to four grooves and a cone-shaped cavity that was made to expand under the pressure and increase muzzle velocity.  When it was fired, the expanding gas deformed the bullet and engaged the barrels’ rifling, providing spin for better accuracy and much longer range. Before the advent of the minie ball, soldiers had to be in close proximity to their enemy to shoot them, but the minie ball’s effective range was from 200 to 250 yards, quite a big development in warfare.

The minie ball also made a huge difference due to the way it impacted the human body. It was a particularly deadly round, making a massive wound in the flesh. Head and abdominal shots were almost always fatal, and if a limb was hit, it usually shattered the bone so badly that an amputation was necessary. You can see why this small piece of lead made such a difference to combat at that time.

It is no wonder that these tiny pieces of history are often sought after by historians and war buffs. The Old Warren County Courthouse in Vicksburg, Mississippi has display cases full of spent and unfired minie balls, as do many other Civil War memorials around the country. The fact that they made such a change in the way battles were fought makes them a treasure to find. Imagine the history that is connected to these small relics, if only they could each tell their story.

The internet is full of metal detectorist blogs showing photos of the conical bullets that they have dug up. These are truly exciting artefacts to discover. While it is illegal to metal detect and remove items from Battlefield Monuments, there are many places where skirmishes took place that are legal for detectorists to hunt. Civil War battles were fought in 23 different states all over the eastern half of the U.S., and only a handful of the battlefields are preserved on protected land. If you happen to live in an area where a Civil War battle was fought, you could even be fortunate enough to find minie balls in your own back yard; and where there is one minie ball, there are many.

Whether you’re an avid detectorist, a Civil War junkie, or a history buff, searching for and finding these artefacts will satisfy your inner hunter. It isn’t often that you can hold a true piece of history in the palm of your hand, but when you find a cache of minie balls, you actually can.

Gene Knight is the Sales Director at Kellyco Metal Detectors and history buff.

My regards.


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