Lynda’s Seal Matrix

This is another bout of nostalgia; a feeling of pleasure and sometimes slight sadness at the same time as I think about things that happened in the past.

In the autumn of 2005, Mrs John and I prepared ourselves for a detecting foray in a Wendover field, about five miles away. When we arrived at the site and opened the car boot, it was discovered that we hadn’t packed the metal detectors.

On a morning that stared frosty anyway, the atmosphere turned even colder. I was responsible for the error, that was clear. Being a good lad, I made soothing noises and offered to go back for the machines. Luckily, home wasn’t too far away and the delay was minimal.


After I had found a seal matrix – on a previous occasion – it was on Lynda’s ‘wish list’. Bugger me. Less than fifteen minutes searching, she shouted for my attention and produced the seal matrix. shown below. I was astounded and pleased for her.

RECORDED ON PAS. Lynda’s oval copper-alloy seal matrix dating circa 14th century. JW

You will notice that the artefact shows a head in profile. The device appears to be a lady wearing a wimple or close-fitting headdress. The Latin legend, AVE DOMINA, is in mixed Lombardic and Roman style letters and probably means ‘Hello Lady’ or ‘Mistress of the God’.

Near the find spot there used to be an abbey or nunnery. Now I place my arkie fedora at a crooked angle and proclaim: ”What Lynda found is the personal seal of the Mother Superior.” Enlarge on this, Daily Mail!

Watch this Space

A few weeks ago I posted one of Lynda’s finds on FaceCrap and it was very well received. For those who didn’t see it, here it is again . . .

Mrs. John and I don’t detect anymore, but we have some memorable finds. Here’s one we haven’t shown before and I love it! The inscription says: ST.PAULS CE SCHOOL: CHURCH WARDENS PRIZE: 1908: GRACE E. MITCHELL. The watch was found in Firle, near Brighton – where there is a school of the same name. I might give them a buzz.


Anyone wanting to attend a dig in 2007 was really spoilt for choice and the fourth Firle rally in East Sussex organised by Tony Head and Pip Rowe was always going to be at the top of any discerning detectorist’s list.

As usual, the weekend proved to be very popular, well organised and complete with a Firle implied guarantee of success, with just over one hundred detector wielding devotees attending the blistering hot two days. Remarkable really as the site was still waterlogged on the Thursday after days of torrential rain had threatened to put a damper on the proceedings. Yes, leading up to the date had been rather fraught for the organisers, anxious about whether crops would be harvested, the fields ready and desperately hoping that the incessant rain would keep off. There was no need to worry. The tenant farmer had worked wonders with the two hundred and fifty acres and there was only one field left in stubble. And the weather was perfect, if not a little too hot for detecting. 

With Wellington boots left languishing in the boot of the car, people were using different strategies for coping with the unexpected heat. 


Graham Hearn and Barbara Andrew from Worthing took advantage of the extra-ordinary weather conditions to top up their sun tan. This was Graham’s second time out detecting – hope he doesn’t get the wrong idea for he spurned my offer of cheap waterproofs; I guess he might come to regret that decision! Wonder if he still detects?

The central meeting point seemed to be the area next to the Detecnicks stand, manned by Nick and Laura. Maybe it had to do with them holding the special key for one of the toilets, the dispensing of free headache tablets or the hand-washing facility. On the other hand it may have been the detecting bargains and the dispensing of good advice. Whatever the reason, there was always a good crowd thereabouts.

Laura had acquired a number of rather lurid red bras (don’t ask – check with Nick) and presented one to every detectorist who found a hammered coin. Around fifteen were issued on the Saturday. Although shunned by some, they were proudly flaunted by others.

TOP picture shows “others’. Sorry, names escape me. BOTTOM – Paul James [aka SkunkyPaul] and a much younger me.

Inside every bra was a special mark unknown to everyone but Nir checking at the end of the day, most wearers were awarded a booby prize of a thermal mug, bendy torch or magnifier . . . but the main prize, the treasure chest finds’ pouch filled with detecting goodies was never claimed . . . and five bras were never returned! 

3 thoughts on “AVE DOMINA

  1. There’s certainly a back story that I don’t know about. Instead of gaining one for finding a hammered coin, I thought they would be presented as a booby prize.


  2. I remember the day well , that’s me on the right hand side. And yes I did hand the bra back, I think I got the magnifying glass. Great rally.

    Liked by 1 person

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