Harlow [again], 19.09.2010

posted Sep 20, 2010, 11:10 AM by A Standish   [ updated Sep 25, 2010, 1:16 AM ]
Rally Uk 19.09.10 -- - The Olympic result.

NARCy and the 3 intrepid detectorists, Tony, Denise and Alan, set off at the unearthly hour of 7am, heading down the M1 towards the RallyUK club dig in Harlow, Essex. Little did we realise what a day it was going to be.

Stopping briefly at South Mimms, so NARCy could flutter briefly in the strong wind, whilst the rest of us quick stepped towards the facilities, we were soon back on the road towards Harlow.

On arrival, we were informed that the dig had been cancelled as the field had been seeded the night before! However, the good news was that another field on a promising site had been made available to us a couple of miles away. And what good news that was to turn out to be… So off we trundled, and being one of the last to arrive, we quickly set up our gear and entered the large field.

Tony headed right and Denise and Alan turned left and it wasn’t long before Denise hits a stunning signal [at 9:30am] and pulls out her very first cut half hammered penny, [a William 1st 1066 - 1087]. She was dancing with delight, and nothing could disguise the sound of Tony’s pleasure as he congratulated her over the walkie-talkie.

Little did we realise that this was to be the first of many coins for Denise that day. Soon she followed up with a George 2nd penny and then a half penny, in quick succession. So the couple continued to work the area closely resulting in Alan’s haul of Musket balls and buttons.

Moving on to further round the field and lo & behold Alan gets a strong signal, which turned out to GOLD. Yes GOLD! A stunning piece of high quality GOLD, that was later identified as a potential Viking Hack piece. [Over the walkie-talkie, Tony could be heard crackling away .. was he fuming, or was it the strong wind playing havoc?]

Over in the other side of the field, wondering what all the excitement had been about with crackles of joy scratching over the airwaves, Tony had added a hypodermic cattle needle, a George V halfpenny and another cut half to the list.

More musket balls and buttons, clasps and aluminium cans were pulled up but lunch was looming, so the team headed back to the rendezvous to put the kettle on.

We met back at the car and we quickly commandeered an abandoned table on which we set up the gas stove, put the kettle on, got the sandwiches, cake and chocolate out. It wasn’t long before we were joined by the club organiser Cliff who, on seeing the superb spread before him, accepted our offer to join in. We showed him the finds and proceeded to announce to other detectorists nearby, about how the Northamptonshire mob had cleaned up the field between them. Tony’s cut half was thought to be Saxon (it was later positively Id’d to Henry I making it slightly later in the Norman period), Denise’s cut-half was later identified as a Scottish coin of William 1st, and Alan’s gold was identified as possibly being a piece of  Viking ‘hack-gold’, a battle piece given to warriors to give them something to live for.
The conversation turned to the afternoon session. Stories were told of how many of the best finds had previously been made in the last 5 minutes of many an organised dig. We laughed away, joking amongst ourselves and speculating how our last 5 minutes of the day would pan out, would it be more silver and gold or more cans and buttons?. Little did we realise that someone must have been listening!

Suitably refreshed, we made our way back to the fields going our different ways. Buttons and aluminium were prominent signals, but Denise gets a very iffy signal and calls Alan over to check, a low sound emitted from the explorer, ensuring that it was worth digging and were we glad that we did. Well below spade depth, out popped a lovely silver pin with an acorn head, we jokingly called it a paper clip. But Denise had done it again, her 2nd piece of silver for the day. Tony meanwhile had been focusing down at the southern end of the field and had been recovering all sorts of goodies including a George III bullhead sixpence, a crotal bell and a very old looking pendant that may turn out be Saxon.

As Alan and Denise made their way around the field boundary, they noticed a large group of detectorists all focusing in the one area, we later found out that they were recovering a large amount of Bronze  fragments from axe-heads and other tools.

By 3pm there were no more than a dozen people left on the field. So Alan and Denise decided to make their way towards the field entrance, meeting up with Tony, who speculated about what may lie ahead as we worked our way back. It was after all, getting close to the last 5 minutes of the dig. At 3.45 Alan was first up with a signal which turned out to be a lovely Military button, Tony had also started digging and successfully pulled out his first silver thimble, a little battered, but showing some beautiful decoration underneath the layer of dirt. But then it happened, dead on cue, at 3:55. As we turn away, Denise gets a signal, and there just below the surface was a coin, not any coin, but THE coin. A Celtic Bronze Potin from the Iron-age, which we later identified as having a celticised head of Apollo and a Bull on the reverse. This dated the coin to 100BC.

We checked the find in with Cliff, who confirmed our thoughts and reminded us about our lunchtime conversation emphasising that he now knew for certain that the Northamptonshire team had definitely ‘cleaned’ up.

As we avoided the massive traffic jam on the M25, detouring through London and around the North circular back to the M1, the journey passed quickly as we couldn’t believe the day that we had just had as a group, let alone the day that Denise had had, a commendable hat-trick of firsts: Her first hammered, her first silver pin and now her first Celtic.

If that’s what happens when NARCy gets to accompany us on a dig, he’s sure going to be invited to every single one in the future.

We’ve already booked him a ticket to Isleham next week,

………………………………………….watch this space……………………………………

F.L.O. comment - "It's only the 2nd Potin i've seen in 2 years of doing the job."