The RING of Truth

On a Mission

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 it’s owner after he’d recovered it from a local field. He naturally thought whoever had lost it would be grateful for the safe return.

Don’t Assume Anything

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 when I told the story about a ring found in the UK being reunited with the American ‘giver’. The recipient wasn’t very happy to get the ring back because it brought back memories of a sour relationship that he had been trying to forget. Not only that – he had remarried and was very happy in the new wife.

This simple and elegant womens wedding band is handcrafted in 14k yellow gold. Nine brilliant round cut diamonds are channel set half way around the band … courtesy of Avianne Jewellers

Then there was the case of the ring returned to a very pleased and grateful owner, but she wanted to keep it secret. It happened like this …

I was asked if I could find a ring lost in a field during a large village barbecue …

Evidently, a lady had emerged from the Portaloo flapping her hands to dry (like they do) and realised that her ring was missing only when arriving home. Although the organisers and friends had borrowed a metal detector and made a search they drew a blank, there was nothing to be found.

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What follows is a couple of memories from my detecting past. The pictures above are from passports I have used. Apart from looking back they bear little relation to this post. The picture on FaceAche was a teaser.


Nostalgia – is missing the past good or bad for you?

I often think about my past or wish I you could go back in time, at least to the world we all once had before the coronavirus pandemic. Nostalgia has direct implications on our mental health.

Regular readers of my blog realise that I write mainly about nostalgia. I can only liken it to a feeling of being homesick and a yearning for the return to a past period and lost condition.

For centuries, nostalgia was regarded as a mental condition, but scientists now say that it serves as a positive function, improving mood and possibly your mental health. It’s good to change your mind.

But nostalgia isn’t real, is it? Every time we recall an experience, the memory becomes a little distorted. As time passes, the memory becomes further out of touch with reality and so it is hardly accurate or reliable. When people speak fondly of the past, they also tend to become more hopeful for the future. So nostalgia can in fact be a healing and a bonding experience.

On occasions I have written for Best of British, The UK’s premier nostalgia magazine covering every aspect of life from the 1930s to today. Each issue encourages you to explore your own recollections and memories in their ‘Yesterday Remembered’ section.

During my bouts of ill health and in the darkest moments I have thought of myself as a total failure but, with the help of many people, I now think positively. When reflecting back on those special moments, I’m finding value and a meaning to life. But I have long way to go: I enjoy remembering and writing about the past. ‘School of Hard Pitches’ is an amalgamation of detecting knowledge and memories of my past was one of the catalysts for this post.

I have loads of old snaps and will show pictures that are perhaps new to you from my short detecting past. I’ll leave the other 60 years of my life for another time. :-). Now, where do I start? One of the highlights of my time scribbling about detecting was the discovery of a mosaic by Mike Pittard and Anne Laverty.

Meet Mike, Anne and a Marvellous Mosaic

Mike Pittard and Anne Laverty
Roman Mosaic found Spring 2008
The Importance of teamwork. Mike Piccard, Mrs John and archaeologist Alan Graham

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Fakes, Forgeries and a Bender

Originally written five years ago and now resurrected with many updates.

At the close of the detecting session, I bent down and scooped up a silver coin, which I placed carefully in my foam-filled finds’ tin. On arriving home, the ‘silver’ George II shilling was clearly a forgery (replica?) I had been duped and was bitterly disappointed, just like many others before me.

George II Shilling Forgery. © JW

Forgers have always been with us, of course. It will be a clue to how many years ago I wrote this if you saw the original text. Only last week I was given a dud £1 coin in my change and only realised the fact when it failed to be accepted by two different car park ‘pay and display’ machines.

In any society there are always those who profit from the innocence and gullibility of people like myself. Every year 2 million fake coins are spotted and taken out of circulation – it’s that easy to fake. It’s thought that 3% of all £1 coins are counterfeit – that’s a total value of £47 million! I wrote at the time, It’s illegal to spend or pass on a fake pound; instead you should take it to a police station.

The last of the old-style coins rolled off the production lines sometime in December 2015. It is believed that the new twelve-sided £1 coin will be far more difficult to counterfeit, but we shall wait and see!

It’s now 2021 and it seems that the new pound coin has stumped the counterfeiters … unless you know different!

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Basil Brown and “The Dig”

Belt Buckle, Sutton Hoo, early 7th century, gold, 13.2 x 5.6 cm © Trustees of the British Museum.

This gold belt buckle is one of the greatest achievements of Anglo-Saxon metalwork. Constructed from several separate pieces, its body forms a hinged box with an ingenious triple-lock mechanism. The intricate decoration comprises a web of 13 snakes, predatory birds and long-limbed beasts.

Basil Brown – the Invisible Archaeologist

Before we start – excuses

In 2007 Mrs John and I visited Sutton Hoo and viewed the huge ship grave and the National Trust exhibition of priceless royal treasures with a sense of awe and wonder. AWESOME! It is over eighty years ago since this seventh-century Anglo-Saxon burial ground and royal grave was unearthed in a Suffolk field, and it still has an inescapable fascination. In the same year I purchased Preston’s book and have read it many times. I also penned a review at the time and this blog revisits that time in my life.

My review centred on Basil Brown, the hero of the story. The appellation ‘Invisible Archaeologist’ is only one of many. He was also referred to as the ‘Local Excavator’, the ‘Suffolk Heritage Explorer’ and many more. The way he was treated by the ‘proper’ archaeologists will resonate with detectorists everywhere. He probably knew more than they did!

This has been one of the most difficult blogs I have ever done. Doing research and then losing it all; intense pain after a fall; depression, and a sense of worthlessness were just some of the ingredients in the mix. My intention was to post on the same day as the Netflix film was released. It was not to be.

Streaming on Netflix from 29th January – a film of the book.
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Detectorist Suckers

Size matters. Mine is bigger than yours.

More Money Than Sense

in 2011 I compiled a short blog post that received a lot of attention and deserves a reprise. In those days my original blog had nearly 2000 subscribers and comments left on posts usually reached the giddy 30’s. Not so today: I’m fortunate to get 4 of 5. This is how it started:

I believe that for many detectorists the act of buying a new machine far outweighs the thrill of actually participating in the hobby.

John Winter November 2011

And continued … that’s the impression I get from looking at the various detecting forums, (not so many about now), talking to people in the field and keeping my eyes and ears open. If you regularly visit online hobby (sport?) sites then you’ll be very familiar with the threads extolling the virtues of one make of detector over another. They usually run for several pages, becoming increasingly vitriolic and personal before an enlightened and increasingly frustrated moderator pulls the plug. Has it changed?

The machines being discussed (I use that word lightly) are rarely the reasonably priced models, but high-end machines costing well over a thousand pounds – and more!

For the guys with all the latest gear (but little idea?) it’s as though when they do venture into a muddy field they have to hold their head up high by sporting the latest and the most expensive equipment; when we all know that all you need to find treasure is enthusiasm, a reasonably priced proven detector and a spade.

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