Detectorists’ Bits and Pieces


Mickey’s comment on text: “I reckon John’s just made that up, but I like it!”

You may be interested to know that in a recent survey carried out by the Disney Corporation on the top five everyday pleasures, the finding of money was number one! Could that be why so many of us are detectorists?

Here are the other four ‘pleasures’ in order: freshly washed bedding, not having to queue, somebody smiling at you, and helping someone. Well, there you go! Another Mickey Mouse production!

New Ostrich Metal Detector

The following letter was sent to ‘Bird Talk’ a USA guide to keeping pet birds. 

I have often wondered why the ostrich sticks its head in the sand. Is it just a old wives’ tale or do they really do that? Are they really trying to hide or perhaps looking for something? 

The reply was quite amusing : 

Your question is easy to answer. You must realise that it would be very silly for the birds to put their heads in the sand to hide. When ostriches do this they are simply looking for spare change. In fact, they are so good at doing this, many retired men in African countries use ostriches at the beach instead of metal detectors. The birds are much better at finding change than metal detectors – and they don’t need batteries or make those annoying beeping sounds . . . 

There followed some serious stuff about ostriches and the reply went on to say said that they were only kidding  . . . the only things that put their head in the sand were clams and politicians.

Does Size Matter?

In August 2011 I reported on the discovery of a rare gold pendant found in Norfolk by a metal detectorist. At the time I understood that Kings Lynn Museum was interested in adding it to their collection.

Similar phallic pendants were often used by Roman soldiers, for it was believed that they increased men’s power during battle. These pendants represent masculine power and virility. They were also often worn to ward off evil. Roman women also used this pendant as a fertility charm. (Kings Lynn Museum Online Collections Catalogue).

Known as the Hillington Phallus, the 2.5 centimetre gold member (about 1 inch) was valued at £800 by the Treasure Valuation Committee (TVC), of the British Museum and recorded on the Portable Antiquities Database (PAS). If you wish to look, here is the unique ID: NMS-94CA46. The PAS gives the current location of the find as Kings Lynn Museum. Subsequent action after recording: ‘Acquired by Museum after being declared Treasure.

It is a particularly rare find for Norfolk, and indeed Britain, in its depiction of a phallus made in richly coloured gold, and is in good condition. Its special significance lies in the symbolism of the object and what is tells us about life in Roman times and people’s belief systems. Phallic amulets were commonly worn in Roman times both as a symbol of sexuality, and to promote fertility. Ancient Romans believed that sexual symbols like this gold phallus would shield them from harm and protect them from evil curses. Eroticism and sexuality were prevalent in every form of Roman art, from paintings, to sculpture, and even jewellery. Courtesy of Norfolk Museum

Lynn Museum said it was one of their most prized assets and is on display in the ‘Invaders and Settlers’ section. Interest in the golden 2,000-year-old Romano-British pendant has snowballed since it went on show and can be seen in their online collection catalogue. 

The Museum has placed the pendant on a revolving turntable (see picture above) so visitors can appreciate it more. Evidently the rather small solid gold pendant makes it difficult for people to truly appreciate the craftsmanship.

Not only that, but the golden member was replicated to make visitors’ souvenirs and, when open, will be available in the gift shop. A spokesman said, People make comments on its size – they expect something rather larger.’


Straight Bar Horseshoes

Straight Bar Horseshoes, Courtesy Dave Knight

The horseshoe is traditionally said to bring good luck and I’ve found a few in my time. I’ve even used one as a talisman and nailed it to the door of a shed I had erected. They were never thrown in the hedge and discarded. The shoe was always nailed to the shed door with the ends pointing up.

I guess the idea was that it would act as a kind of storage container for any ‘good luck’ that was floating by. To hang it the other way meant it was bad, as all the good luck would fall out. So, next time you find another horseshoe, remember to look after it for it could be the prelude to finding something big!

Dave Knight of Canada went detecting on a bleak day with fog, drizzle and a cold wind. In his mind was all the treasure he was going to find, and that spurred him on. It didn’t quite work out like he’d imagined, but was pleased to find an early Lower Canada halfpenny token, literally on has last pass, which is in the time-honoured detectorist manner.

continued >>>>>

He also found an unusual horseshoe, similar to a couple he’d found on earlier visits to the same field. As you can see from the picture these were not open like the traditional horseshoe. This type is called a straight bar or corrective shoe and was designed for a number of reasons, but primarily to correct heel related problems for an animal with a broken up hoof wall unable to hold enough nails to keep the shoe on.

Whether these shoes have the same lucky qualities as the conventional type, Dave has yet to find out. He says that he regards detecting in the cold, mud and rain as a kind of challenge. Maybe the next time it’ll all be worth it … with the help of those ‘magical’ shoes, of course!

Courtesy Wallpaper Images.

Tip for New Starters – and Seasoned Swingers?

A friend, whose wife has recently become a convert to detecting, ruefully admitted that she was finding more interesting artefacts than him. He contemplated whether it was down to complacency and should he be re-examining his detecting technique, especially as she was using what could only be described as a ‘Mickey Mouse’ machine. Was his swinging action too fast? Was he ignoring what could be positive signals? Or what?

It’s not the make of machine we are using and it’s not necessarily the type of land we have at our disposal, but it’s more likely to be our own fault that we don’t find anything. I hesitate – that’s a bold statement!

I think there is a very simple reason for the success of my friend’s wife, and other beginners – the fact that they don’t necessarily understand what discrimination is all about or are simply unimpressed by the concept! To put it simply, my friend’s wife chooses to dig more signals than him.

Although it is probably one of the greatest innovations of recent years, I think many detectorists over-use discrimination! We have become spoiled by the features available on ‘high-end’ detectors and choose not to dig what we think might be junk. Don’t misunderstand me, discrimination is a great tool, but I think that moderationof its use is the key to better targets. Remember – some signals require closer examination.

Hope you enjoyed my scribblings. Take care, stay safe and good searching.

2 thoughts on “Detectorists’ Bits and Pieces

  1. Well John.. I was under the impression that politicians did not bury their heads in the sand.. They had them up their…. well let us not go too far with this visual.. LOL.. And as to the phallic symbol.. sorry.. I just cannot see me, or anyone for that matter, purchasing, let alone wearing, one these days.. I guess Barnum was right!! Again.. LOL

    The horseshoe, ie the bar shoe, is used in a number of applications..In the case of Founder, or laminitis, it is most often needed.. This is a separation of the hoof wall .

    Anyway.. another delightful read.. Thank you my friend



  2. Interesting read John brings to light about a friend of mine who decided to breed Ostrichs for the food market .. When i asked him what they tasted like he said dont know have,nt caught one yet ….. Gary


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