A Little Banter From Down Bournemouth Way…

It’s all John Howland this time around…..thanks Bubba

UK Metal Detectorist Rewrites Medieval History

John Howland

howlandscriptThere’s going to be a wailing and gnashing of teeth in certain pseudo-archaeological anti-metal detecting quarters following a detector-found mixed hoard. Note the words ‘metal detectorist’ and not amateur archaeologist, or even, professional archaeologist. Detectorist James Mather’s hoard find in Watlington, Oxfordshire, is set to rewrite the medieval history books with his spectacular find of 186 Anglo-Saxon coin, seven pieces of jewellery, and fifteen ingots. Why? Experts are saying that the find shows that Alfred the Great – one of England’s most revered historical figures – ‘airbrushed’ a rival king from history.

The little known Mercian king, Ceolwulf II, mostly forgotten by history and known only as the “Unwise,” helped Alfred to historical prominence not to mention a battle victory or two, but who Alfred later dropped faster than one of his hot, burnt cakes (US readers check put the Burnt Cakes story).

The British Museum’s early medieval curator and Viking expert, Dr Gareth Williams, said of the find, “Here is more complex political picture in the 870’s which was deliberately misrepresented in the 970’s after Alfred has taken over the whole of Ceolwulf’s kingdom.”

Detectorist James Mather alerted the Portable Antiquities Scheme and returned repeatedly to the scene to ensure its protection. The hoard is likely to be displayed in Oxford’s world renowned Ashmoleum Museum.

Ed Vaizey, the UK’s Culture Minister said of the hoard, “Fascinating finds like this Viking hoard are a great example of the one million discoveries that have been unearthed by the public since 1977.” The heavyweight broadsheet, The Daily Telegraph, said in its Editorial of the 11th December 2015, “The British Museum now runs the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which puts online lovely images of thousands s of people’s discoveries. The future of the past has never been healthier.”

Doubtless, the find will be declared ‘Treasure’ and the reward – which could run into six figures – will be equally shared between the finder and the landowner. All of which highlights the fact that detectorists, and NOT that ever-whingeing amateur rabble posing as heritologists are forcing the pace in advancing historical knowledge.

Well done Mr Mather (whether he was wearing cammo at the time of the find is unclear.).


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it  

Reading Andy Baines’ recent comment I was struck by his obvious and genuine common sense though I expect that much of what he said fell on stony metal detecting ground: That it’s local knowledge that gets the results and ANY machine in the right hands will confirm that knowledge.

What’s even more edifying is that Andy – who has been in the game for four years – not only understands what’s writ large but has taken on board what’s been handed down through generations of treasure hunters. When I and Dick have shuffled off this mortal coil, it’s good to know the baton will be picked and carried by someone who knows which way is up.

There’s nothing wrong with metal detectors costing a Grand or more. The problem is that some novices buy these expensive machines as a perceived shortcut to expertise – the ‘badge’ if you like that suggests to others…’Look at me, expensive machine, I am an expert’ only to discover they ain’t. Club meetings become painful when they realise others with lesser machines are coming up roses.

All I can advise is to start the hobby slowly and if your finds rate is satisfactory and you’re getting good results, why change? But if you need increased depth…buy a larger coil. If you really need in-built satnav…go for it.

Best of all, enjoy the pastime.


Showing the right image

“5. You night laugh at this one, but if you like to take a break for lunch, think about where you are. Nothing shouts out trouble like popping a beer on the tailgate of your truck. I’ve experienced that here in Texas, and I wanted to crawl under a rock….”  writes our man Stouty.

He’s quite right, popping a beer can is just sooo coarse, whereas a civilised glass of lightly chilled foot alcohol, or methylated spirit….

Showing the bright image

Jim Fielding commenting under “A Spoonful of Sugar” with; “I promote the “Hiding-In-Plain-Site” uniform, bright neon-colored shirt (orange or lime-green), reflective vest, beige cargo pants, hiking boots, dark glasses and a beige cap with sun-shield on the back. I usually work busily and even along roadways, folks completely ignore me,” has it right on the money.

Firstly, wearing a Day-Glow vest when working near traffic and/or busy roads makes obvious sense that more people should follow. Indeed, decked out in a fluorescent vest you could probably stroll into any building unhindered if you top the whole caboodle with a hard hat, tool-belt, and a document board. When challenged you only have to say, “Hey, look, this Kowalski guy who runs your telecoms section ordered this urgent inspection. Look pal, just gimme your name and I’ll go back and report to our people.” Open sesame!

My detecting pal, Jack, once ventured onto a local beach wearing a fluorescent Day-Glow coat having forgotten to bring his usual beach hunting jacket. Throughout the session several people approached him asking if he might recover recently lost items and keys, thinking he was a local authority official. He was even approached by a detectorist asking if it was alright to hunt the beach and if a permit as needed. Keeping a poker face, Jack told him it would be alright to hunt but to get a permit later. “Aw, thanks mate,” says the detectorist.

I used to know a guy whose girlfriend, who also hunted, went and knocked on farmer’s doors asking for permission for them both. To say that she was attractive was something of an understatement; raven haired, with an hour-glass figure and (from behind) when she moved, she moved like a Swiss watch. The pair were only refused once because the farmer’s wife thought her husband was becoming overly accommodating and had suddenly developed an interested in metal detectors.


To Whom it Concerns:

Stupidity is when you can’t help it – ignorance is when you choose not to understand something…….Sarah McLachlan

I’ll see y’all in the bar!



Filed under Metal Detecting

5 responses to “A Little Banter From Down Bournemouth Way…

  1. Andy Baines

    Great post John, thanks for the vote of confidence as well lol 🙂

    One day I hope to get down to your neck of the woods for some detecting, I always watch malcomb potters YouTube videos on Bournemouth beach and it look good down there.


    • Just so you know Andy….. There’s a “liquid” fee to hunt with john

    • You’ll be most welcome, but we’ll leave Bournemouth beach to the video makers…there’s other beaches tucked away where the better and older stuff washes ashore. It’s thirsty work so refreshment will be required.
      All the best to you and yours and indeed all readers of Stout Standards for Christmas and best wishes for many great finds in the New Year.

  2. Andy Baines

    Yep merry Christmas and happy new year everyone 🙂

  3. Jim Fielding

    Interesting post, John. Just so I don’t appear any smarter than I am, the idea of the “hiding in plain site” uniform came from an accidental encounter with someone in a public park here in Central Florida. I was wearing an old orange-colored T-shirt and detecting an area of the park that had been bulldozed down a bit during rennovation. While I was swinging my coil, a man nearby asked me if I had found any gold ha-ha. When I looked over at him he said “I was just kidding…I know you are with the construction company looking for pipes or whatnot!” An idea was born! Have a Merry Christmas John and you too Dick!

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