We set off just as dawn was breaking and only a couple of miles from home we saw a barn owl hunting. We always joke that this is a good omen.
And what a beautiful morning it was too! Gorgeous sunshine and wispy clouds, it really did feel like it was Spring. With the knowledge that the days are now actually longer than the nights we knew we had a good stint ahead of us.
We decided that because we were going to survey a new 44-acre (198 single man hours) field we would use the PAST version of the “Union Jack” method of which we’ve dubbed the “Zebra” method. The field was seeded with spring barley.
On the first pass we detected copious amounts of small ferrous signals and pieces of lead which is usually a good sign. We also recovered a large fragment of a Roman crossbow fibula and a Saxon buckle depicting the “beast biting the bar” at the junction of the tongue swivel bar.
The fibula interestingly enough was hollow at the curved shank which would have been a definite weak point, hence the break.
Three hours later we had a couple of Roman grots, 6 fragments of Roman pottery, a Georgian lead figurine of a lead tiger, a Cartwheel penny and two knapped flint scrapers.
With another 192 hours search tome for this field, we decided to recce the next planned three fields to assess them for settlement evidence. We may re-visit the 44-acre field as soon as we can.
No evidence of settlement was apparent although there were two fragments of C13th – C14th pottery. These fields however were still in a rough ploughed state so we didn’t spend too long on them. With that, we had lunch and had a chat with the estates gamekeeper.
The next port of call was a field we had a look at earlier in the year. This was only a 7.5-acre field so we did a mix of 90 degrees and following the winter wheat lines. We managed to recover 5 hammered coins, a Roman grot, a Medieval finger ring fragment, 4 Medieval belt mounts, 3 strapend fragments, an early lead bale seal and a couple of buckles.
It just goes to show that when the crop lines crisscross each other to accommodate the field shape it can disrupt the accuracy of the expected coverage.
Most of these signals were missed due to the coil not passing over them as they sounded great! The farthings however gave low 40’s numbers but a small target area hence almost a “blip”. These could have been missed either because it was perceived that they were pieces of foil perhaps?
This 7.5-acre field has a disproportionate amount of Medieval artefacts, coins and pottery within it.
As a reference 17 hammered coins have been recovered in 3 visits and that’s even after it has been nighthawked!
We called in to see Mr & Mrs Landowner and were warmly invited into their home to catch up with various topics as we’d not seen them for a couple of months. We showed them the finds and were amazed at how small the farthings are.
A field that has part of a Medieval village in it is being drilled in late April and a pasture field is having grazing sheep on it in about 4 weeks’ time. This should be fun as we don’t often survey pasture!
On the way home we saw another barn owl hunting over the hedgerows.
Images of the day’s recoveries can be seen here.