Bachelor Button, Solitaire & Cufflink Fastener

Metal detectorists make finds from all ages and probably half of the total items recorded on the United Kingdom Detecting Finds Database (UKDFD) happen to be post-medieval. It is also a fact that much of this later material was minimal or non-existent prior to the advent of the hobby. Even now the identification and dating of relatively recent items is often more difficult than that of the ancient counterparts. That’s quite a thought.

In January 2007 I produced the first UKDFD newsletter, Borrowed Times. In the same year an alliance was forged with The Searcher magazine to feature some of the more interesting finds from the database. I started writing a regular column for the magazine entitled Just for the Record.

Header from The Searcher Column

In my first article I said:

If it were not for the published works of detectorists like Brian Read, Gordon Bailey, Edward Fletcher and others, we would have very little to go on. But I can assure you that the UKDFD is building on the foundations laid by these detectorists and is destined to become an important resource in its own right.

The risk of confusing material of one period with that of another is greatly reduced if we have knowledge of artefacts from both periods – Roman and Georgian is a good example. It is with this in mind that I have looked at the database and selected a number of post medieval finds which I think you may also find interesting.

What follows is a reprise of one of those finds I borrowed from the database.

Bachelor Button Spring Stud or Cufflink Fastener

I don’t wish to confuse you but the cornflower, the famous flower of many romantic legends, was often called the Bachelor Button. Why was this? I understand that years ago the bloom was worn as a signal of availability. The name, Bachelor Button, may have arisen during Victorian times when the flowers were often placed in the button holes of men’s suitcoats.

So, bachelor button flowers, often called cornflowers, are an old fashioned species once considered a weed of arable fields. The development of intensive agricultural practices nearly wiped out the cornflower in the wild. This delicate, blue flower is now most likely to occur as a garden escapee, as part of intentional wildflower seeding, or as the result of the disturbance of soil containing old seed banks. Its strongholds remain roadside verges, scrub, waste ground and farmland. It flowers from June to August.

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The Black and Blue Reviver


When the muse has left me, which is often these days, I sometimes raid the United Kingdom Detecting Finds Database ( UKDFD ) looking for inspiration. This hobby-based initiative was founded in 2005: take a look at the short promotional video.

Deceitful Liquid

In 2010 I looked at some fascinating advertising tokens on the UKDFD found by detectorists and constructed a short post. The token – shown below – was so interesting and I think worthy of a place in this new blog. I have also added further details.

Similar to UKDFD 16518 Found in December 2008 by John Kineavy …

An advertising token of the 19th century, issued by Thomas Pryce, oil and colourman, of London. (Colourman: one who prepares and sells paint.) Both addresses shown on the token (1 York Buildings and 12 [Northampton Place], opposite Surrey Place) are in the Old Kent Road. Thomas Pryce is known to have been in occupation of both premises in 1827, and of the latter until 1840, when Thomas Eastman Pryce continued the business. OBVERSE : T PRYCE OIL & COLOURMAN 1 YORK BUILDINGS & 12 OPPOSITE SURREY PLACE KENT ROAD (J H) LONDON. REVERSE: SOLE MANUFACTURER OF DR WINN’S BLACK AND BLUE REVIVER FOR RESTORING ALL KINDS OF FADED MOURNING.
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Imaginary Helper and Good Luck Charm

According to Tim Thorpe of the Lynn Museum, “Phallic amulets were commonly worn in Roman times both as a symbol of sexuality, and to promote fertility. Ancient Romans believed that sexual symbols would shield them from harm and protect them from evil curses.”

The example below – in bronze – dates from circa 300-500 AD, and comes from the Eastern Mediterranean. Clearly un-circumcised! Length: 1 3/8 inches: 33 mm. So, nothing to boast about there, then! 🙂

In my last blog I mentioned ‘My Mate Dave’. From the three comments scudding into my mailbox, two asked who he was. Now is the time to come clean.

I remember that having an invisible friend when young, was considered quite normal and healthy part of childhood play. I was rather sweet on Judith Thompson whose make-believe friend I came to hate, even though we’d never met. It always seemed that whenever I had something interesting in mind she preferred to go in her bedroom and yak away for half an hour to ‘Christopher’. Thinking about that I suppose we were a little older than four or five!

I was a slow starter. It is only now, at a venerable age, that I have my own fictional friend, my Muse called Dave. In the course of blogging I sometimes insert fictional characters. Ooohhh-errr. Is there a great difference between a child’s imaginary friend and a scribbler’s characters except the language used?

Dave steps in and helps out whenever I get stuck without a clear idea where to take the blog. Because he has a mind of his own, he brings a different perspective and breaks me out of ruts. In the early days Dave was mentioned in a blog and has grown in stature since . . . although he doesn’t exist, but is simply an amalgam of all the detectorists I have ever known.


On the other hand, Leslie Allan Sarkany ( Bluenoser )is a real person and takes the idea a bit further – needless to say his ‘conversation piece’ works like a charm. I reckon his collection of rings has grown somewhat since 2011.

“As with detectorists worldwide, finding new locations to search becomes increasingly difficult. In Nova Scotia where virtually everywhere is open to detecting except for federal parks, historic sites and private property, there is seldom an issue.

To help secure new digging spots I have fashioned a ‘conversation piece’ – necklace of about 160 gold and silver rings. It acts as an ice-breaker and often leads to fresh pastures. Offering your services for free opens more doors.”

Leslie Sarkany – quote from a Searcher article of 2011
Bluenoser Leslie Sarkany from Nova Scotia shows off his rings of confidence
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Banging on about my Mate Dave

Cautionary tale for Detectorists

Most of us are familiar with the automatic liquefied petroleum gas exploders we come across whilst detecting on arable land. You know the darn things – they make loud sounds that frighten birds and startle unwary detectorists; we tend to give them a wide berth. The picture is typical of the apparatus you might find in fields.

Rope Bangers

My mate Dave was detecting one day when he came across what looked like firecrackers. There were quite a few and even though they were clearly marked ‘explosive component. If found, place in bucket of water for 24 hours’, he collected every one and placed them in his finds’ pouch.

Who in his right mind would carry explosives in a pouch nestling close to his gentiles (sic) – especially on one of the hottest days of the year? The answer is … Dave.

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Nazi Artefact Found in Cleveland

The Cross of Honour of the German Mother came in three classes. The third class in bronze was awarded to mothers bearing three to five children. The second class in silver to those bearing six to seven children, and the first class in gold for eight or more children. Read how Peter Mcbride made his most unusual find.

The propaganda poster with the smiling mother and her three blonde children suggest they will have a bright future – thanks to Adolf Hitler

Peter McBride comes from Middlesborough in Cleveland. His first foray into detecting began in 1996 when he bought himself a Bounty Hunter for searching beaches and local playing fields.

During this time he found something very interesting and most unusual – a German medal, dated December 1938, complete with a facsimile of Hitler’s signature. With most great finds the question, ‘I wonder how it got there?’ often asked by detectorists, is particularly intriguing. This one particularly so!

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A Berry Good Day Detecting

The blackberry is a widespread and well known bramble fruit, sometimes used for making preserves and wine.

Read how Stephen Grey got himself in a jam when detecting finds were scarce.

Inferiority Complex – Circa 2012

A few years ago I made this comment on my fledgling blog :

In the last couple of weeks I have been banned from a metal detecting forum, received an email that said, ‘there is something about you that I don’t like’, told that my writing is ‘crap’, and seen advice to members of a forum not to click on any of my links because they may contain a ‘trap’ and might ‘ravage your computer’. No wonder I have an inferiority complex.  

But I am still here – despite the inference from an infamous blogger with a rhino-like epidermis that I am ‘thin-skinned’. So, what crap have I got in store for you today? And what was the catalyst for this post?


Stephen Grey

This is the familiar face of Stephen Grey, of Anglo Celtic Metal Detecting who gave me the idea. On his FaceAche page he posted a picture of blackberries and commented that when finds were few and far between, he collected the abundant fruit in the hedgerow. He’d also penned a poem:

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