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Spring 2016

Digging for Treasure


Many people probably wouldn't choose to spend their Sunday wandering round a field waving a metal detector an inch above the ground but it's not actually as bad as it sounds. In fact, for the Leicestershire Metal Detecting Society (LMDS) it's the perfect way to spend your down time.

I had the pleasure of joining them on a dig on the 24th of January and I really enjoyed myself. Thanks everybody! When I arrived they gave me a really nice, warm fleece with their logo stitched into it, probably so I didn't forget what LMDS stands for, and a simple model of metal detector so I could learn the basics. The detectors, especially the more expensive ones, are far more sophisticated than I first thought; I own a metal detector but I now realise that it's more like a toy. Proper detectors are able to distinguish between the different types of metal and make different sounds depending on what’s been found, for example, certain metals might make a low buzzing noise instead of a clear beep. I definitely haven't mastered the art of distinguishing beeps but some of the more experienced metal detectorists (real term, I checked) are able to not only hear the difference but also tell you exactly what each sound means, e.g. iron, aluminium, etc. Some detectors also show you what you've found; many have a digital screen with a reading meter on it and depending on what you've found it will show you where it registers on the meter. On a few occasions though I had readings that were jumping up and down the meter like a rabbit but, thanks to a helpful tip, I learned that it's likely to be just a piece of buried rubbish and nothing of any value.

I'll admit, I thought this kind of thing wouldn't take an awful lot of planning but you'd be surprised, there's far more to arrange than I first expected. It seems obvious now I think about it but you can't just go digging up random fields in search of treasure; first you've got to get the landowner’s permission. Interestingly, the dig sites aren't random either. They first do a bit of research to find out if there might be anything of interest buried there, for example, the entire Barrow upon Soar area was once occupied by the Romans. Our particular dig location used to be an Anglo-Saxon village which therefore means there's a possibility of finding various artefacts and coins from that time. As it happens, one of the more experienced diggers found a Saxon coin, well, half a coin: it was a little corroded. The problem with this kind of thing is that anything you find may have been buried for a very long time. I didn't have much luck; I found something within 10 minutes of starting, sadly it was only a handle off a drawer, I never found the rest of the drawer. I did however find what I've been told is a Liverpool bag-seal which, after I Googled it, seems to be what people used to seal the tops of bags so the contents wouldn't fall out.

So, if metal detecting sounds like your cup of tea then it's important to know that as a member it costs £10 to participate in a dig. It's also important to know that all money paid goes to a charity which is chosen by either the landowner or the society so, by taking part, you not only get to indulge a hobby, have a pleasant day out (depending on the weather) and maybe find something valuable but you also get to help the less fortunate; everybody wins!

For more information please contact Tony on 07809847108or Warren on 07821678522 or Dave F on 01509 416149

Elliot Wilkes