The Yanks are Coming

Ardent American detectorists – or should I say ‘relic hunters’ or even ‘coinshooters’ – used to swinging in tot-lots and searching on sidewalks – have a dream. And that is to visit England to do some real detecting. Canadians and Americans are lured – and here I am quoting one of the organisations organising the tours – by phrases like …

With your metal detector you will have opportunities to discover gold, silver, lead, or bronze antiquities thought lost forever. Touch history by finding clues in the fields . . . or discover the whereabouts of an unknown Roman villa.

Detecting expeditions search private land, in archaeologically interesting places, to uncover many spectacular finds including ancient coins and artefacts, dating from the Bronze Age through to Celtic, Roman, Medieval and. the present day.

And so on. After reading some of the claims, I wish that I were American or Canadian and eligible to go on one of these trips. Good finds are almost guaranteed. Alas, I could never afford it …



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.

Continue reading “AVE DOMINA”

Scribbling and Sharpening

In the past I have often scribbled about hammered silver coin caches, Anglo-Saxon hoards, Roman burials and all the other magnificent finds made by detectorists. I was privileged and very lucky to have the opportunity to relive the exploits of the finders and tell their stories. And for that I think myself very fortunate and honoured to do so. That’s how I get my ‘fix’ even today. Today’s offering is rather mundane.

The teacher always had an ‘industrial’ pencil sharpener attached to the desk at the front of the class.

If you are of a certain age you will remember the pencil sharpener attached in a rickety fashion to the edge of the table in your secondary classroom. Probably not, but I have vivid memories of countless disasters trying to sharpen my pencils. Something starting off at a length of  five or six inches usually ended up annihilated and unusable. I hated them.

read more. get to the point



Typical Class Ring. Ebay.

There was a recent story in the media – and one we are all familiar with – about a detectorist who was ‘on a mission’ to reunite a unique ring with its owner after he recovered it from a local field. He thought whoever lost it would be grateful for the safe return.

We tend to assume that the return of such a find will be welcomed by the true owner, but this isn’t always the case as I related in a 2007 article when I told the story about a ring found in the UK being reunited with the American giver. He wasn’t very happy to be reunited with the ring for it brought back memories of a bad relationship that he had been trying to forget. Not only that – he had married another lady and was very happy.

Continue reading “RING of TRUTH”