The Detectorists’ ‘Rotten Pot’


When we see the wordpotpourri’ most of us think of a mixture of things like dried flowers and leaves kept in a bowl to make a room smell pleasant. You may have some in the lavvy right now! This packet from M&S contains cinnamon and cloves. Sounds almost good enough to eat!

The word was borrowed directly from the French ‘pot pourri’, and in that language the literal meaning of these words is “putrid or rotten pot.”

Detecting Medley

Long ago when the Editor and I were thinking of a header for my new column in The Searcher magazine, potpourri was a title considered. Why? It means, ‘a miscellaneous collection of almost anything’, and I intended writing short bits about metal detecting and presenting them as a whole. We considered many titles and eventually chose MEDLEY, easier to understand and meaning a varied mixture of stories.

After that pitiful and convoluted introduction this blog goes back to the French meaning of potpourri, ‘putrid or rotten pot’. I don’t know why, perhaps it is because I have taken and adapted some of those earlier stories – because I can. Now that is rotten (lazy?). And so is this silly introduction.

Detecting Medley started in August 2009

Detectorist Disappointment

Let’s start with those detectorists who are renowned for blindly rushing into purchasing new equipment, because FaceAche and forum guys with pseudonyms like DeusDave, PullTabFinder and DigitUp recommended it! They haven’t thought ahead and ‘disappointment’ is probably a new word in their vocabulary. Like all gullible punters who haven’t done their homework, the result is predictable.

ICEGIF with permission. Even aristocats make errors of judgement

They were lured by the attraction of, say, a new machine at a higher cost, and then disenchanted because it failed to deliver the goods. What did they expect? For them it proves a tough learning curve, when they find out [usually] that sticking with the same detector, getting to know its little foibles and fully understanding how it works, will eventually bring dividends.

This subject is a favourite of Texas blogger Dick Stout and one in which he excels. Read his latest blog HERE (20th March).

DeusDave, PullTabFinder and DigitUp are figments of my imagination and bear no relationship to anyone I know.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Hornbook

A primer for children.

Full-size horn books were teaching tablets that usually contained the alphabet or the Lord’s Prayer and which became available during the 16th century. Although the term ‘hornbook’ is commonly used for lead tablets, it is a slightly misleading name. True horn-books were made out of wood onto which the printed paper would have been mounted, and then covered with a thin sheet of transparent horn for protection.

From the PAS record

So, the hornbook was perhaps the original teaching aid lasting over 400 years, designed to introduce young children to reading. You can see in the top left of the example above a cross, from which the hornbook got the nick-name Christ Cross Row, or Criss-Cross-Row.

The alphabet in small and large letters was usually followed by the vowels and their combinations with the consonants in tabular format. The Trinitarian formula – “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen” – followed, then the Lord’s Prayer. The hornbook often concluded with the Roman numerals. But it wasn’t really a book at all!

The Lead Hornbook – a Teaching Toy – often Found by Detectorists

Courtesy of the detectorist known as ‘Huntsman’

‘Lead hornbook’ is a slightly misleading name. True hornbooks are as I explained earlier. The lead tablets are far smaller, and would probably have been either toys or cheaper versions of the full-size hornbooks. A great find, nevertheless.

If you have rolled up pieces of lead, go and check them out as soon as possible. You could be in for a surprise!

© PAS: GLO-9F5C77 A complete Post Medieval lead alloy miniature horn book dating c1500-1700AD showing the alphabet. The reverse has the letters TS (S is reversed) contained by a narrowed border infilled with arches. Length: 39 mm; Width: 31 mm; 

The PAS has recorded about 40 of these miniature hornbooks found by detectorists. Similar objects on the database include WREX-F95F1B, SOM-5408E1, YORYM-FA8FF1, LVPL-69A2E4, SWYOR-B234D7, and NMGW-E9EC71 (nearly complete).

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Rather Romantic Ring”


Phil Jenkins has been detecting for over 25 years and lives in Ruislip, part of the London Borough of Hillingdon. As a result he finds it rather difficult to find land so resorts to travelling out and attending organised digs.

The Satyr Riding a Phallus Ring found by Phil.

One weekend he went on a dig at Thatcham in Berkshire organised by Leisure Promotions. Detecting on pasture and at about 12” down, he unearthed what he described as a “rather romantic ring.” Being a lapsed and rather sedentary ex-detectorist, I was rather excited by what he showed me . . .

It purports to be a Roman period satyr riding phallus seal ring, but it isn’t possible to tell from the images whether the item is genuine. Is it silver … or another metal? My ‘expert’ said: “the style seems not quite right.”

Because there are many similar rings available on the Net, all described as Roman Style, Phil hoped his example was the ‘real deal.’ AND IT WAS. When shown to experts at the British Museum they said it was genuine. 🙂

Satyrs are male goat-human hybrids with the torso and head of a man, and in Greek tradition with the legs, and tail of a horse. Originally, Satyrs also had human feet before Roman alterations. They are often depicted with flat noses, large pointed ears, long curly hair, full beards and wreaths of vine or ivy circling balding heads.

In Greek mythology the satyr (sat-are) is a deity of the woods and mountains. (see below) Satyrs are half human, half beast and usually have a goat’s tail, flanks and hooves. While the upper part of the body is that of a human, they also have the horns of a goat. They are the companions of the god of wine, and spend their time drinking, dancing, and chasing nymphs.

Greek mythology Satyrs

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 thoughts on “The Detectorists’ ‘Rotten Pot’

  1. The things I learn from you John!!!!!! I love it.. I have never heard of hornbooks before..

    And the odds of finding anything even approaching that out my way would be zero!!!!

    It would be interesting to see that ring impression in wax.. At least i think it would be.. To

    me, that is very similar in style and ‘use’ as a previous item mentioned in one of your earlier posts..

    thank you my friend.. I always love your musings


    Liked by 1 person

      1. That is the post to which I was referring John..The closest to that which I have found is a ‘coke’ spoon with a stylized couple intertwined.


        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating reading concerning the HornBooks John, now need to unravel the myriads of Lead that I have stored in my garden shed! Just in case!

    Also, the article regarding Stone Anchors from the Wear. As this river is on my doorstep, will walk the banks now in eager anticipation.

    Take care John, speak soon ~ Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you find something interesting.
      Holding that stone in the water looks like an impossible task.
      What do you think? Gary will be talking with me tonight.

      Liked by 1 person

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