Bolus Points for Garrett

This article was first shown ten years ago and it has been suggested – by my mate Dave – that it is worth publishing again for the benefit of new detectorists and those who don’t know. My thanks go to Tim Hollamby and his wife for permission to tell his tale . . . again. The main pictures we’re taken by his wife and detecting partner, Carol.

We learn something new everyday is a trite, often quoted, but undeniably true expression. If, like me, you baulk and make an unnecessary fuss every time you have to take another pill, then you might just enjoy this story sent in my Tim and Carol Hollamby, detectorists from East Sussex. Tim started his unusual and remarkable story by saying, Let me tell you what happened today …

Tim works with farmers on the National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS), so when his mobile phone rang late in the afternoon he wasn’t too surprised to see the name of a farmer who owns land on which he detects. He initially thought that he might want spares for his crop sprayer or had some sprayer-related problem…but the call proved to be more interesting than that!

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The Gift of Time

Contrary to what you may have heard, read, or believe, I’m not old enough to have been born in the Middle Ages. I used to zig-zag drunkenly across a field swinging my detector and finding some artefact or other. I would often take a guess – as I am sure you do/did how it came to be resting there.

Detectorist Keith Usher in his children’s book The Gift of Time, used this ‘wonder’ we all feel when finding something precious, and wove an evocative and imaginative tale around the concept. 

The story is based on the experiences of Alex, who, despite the encouragement of his grandfather, has little interest in history. This changes dramatically when he is given the gift of time travel and has some amazing (and sometimes life-threatening) experiences.

Alex hides small artefacts during his journeys back in time and finds them again on his return. The gift of time travel has to be kept secret but he gets to keep the treasures he finds!

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Button’s Wartime Secret

The Quartermaster (Q) in the Bond films, who produced and demonstrated gadgets for James, always intrigued me. It became an expected scene in the film when he demonstrated Bond’s assigned tools for the mission, and it was a near guarantee that each and every piece would prove to be invaluable.

I was reminded of those gadgets when I heard about the humble button’s wartime secret. Buttons are the bane of some detectorists; they don’t like finding them, but I hope this little story makes them stand back and take a second look. Picture Courtesy LOT-ART.

It was during WW II, that the British Directorate of Military Intelligence had boffins developing secret ways of concealing tools and instruments in everyday objects. Hopefully, maps and other objects hidden in or on uniforms wouldn’t attract attention.

Firmin of London was one of the manufactures making brass uniform buttons and many other military buttons found by detectorists, but this one was different for it contained an escape compass. The top can be unscrewed to reveal a compass. Clever, eh? They were issued to RAF pilots before they set out on an operation.[sortie] to help them find their way home if shot down over enemy territory. See report from ChronicleLive.

button up – or read more