Tips from the Tipsy…

A nice change of pace and a few tips from John Howland. Trust me he knows what he is talking about and has been around the block a few times. 

Just ask the pourer at the local pub….



For the moment at least, we’ll leave our two ‘favourite’ serial whingers to wallow in their own unique brand of vulgar and loutish prose that sets them apart from ordinary society while we get on with the serious biz of treasure hunting. The two aforementioned mites though good for the occasional chuckle really are too tiresome for regular inclusion in our blog. Indeed, it makes little sense to regularly bestow their piss poor down-market, semiliterate blogs, with the exposure they are unable to achieve.

Roman/Iron Age

Many British newcomers to the hobby read Dick Stout’s blog, along with those US enthusiasts heading over here on holiday and looking for advice. In my experience the most efficient way of extracting roman coins from ploughed fields is by using a SMALL (4”) coil.

Two of the loudest indicators that you have a roman site on your hands is when you begin finding small pieces of lead dross (often used in roman pipework), closely followed the presence of well-rusted nails both of which scream out, “Use a smaller coil”.

Garrett ‘Sniper’ coil (other coils are available).

Smaller coils work well by getting in between the ferrous junk; their highly concentrated electro-magnetic beams miss nothing and by working them slowly, will soon repay the investment.

Another signpost that screams “roman habitation” is the profusion of (usually) freshwater mussel shells suggesting the presence of a temple and thus, votive offerings – gold and silver coins in abundance. Find such a place and both you and he landowner will be in clover as the finds will always be declared ‘Treasure’ under the provisions of the ’96 Act.

The most successful machine I ever used on a roman site was Tesoro’s Golden Sabre hitched a 4”coil. Designed to run without a threshold tone, the Golden Sabre featured a built-in null on ferrous targets, only sounding-off over non-ferrous targets. We called it the what-you-don’t-hear-you-don’t-miss system and what a great system it was: No distracting spurious noises, it sliced through the ploughsoil like a hot knife through butter.

My preference was for large-scale OS maps on which to plot finds plot when on inland sorties, though nowadays some of you might prefer the latest sat/nav gizmos. By using a large-scale map provides all the data you need to see the broader picture of the area on which you will be hunting. Footpaths that seemingly end in the middle of a field for instance demand investigation, not so much the path itself, but the place where it ends abruptly. Buckles, buttons, and casual losses abound on paths so it’s back to clipping on your larger coil in these circumstances. Paths can be dated from the finds, so plot them all especially coins, and slowly you’ll build a greater in-depth picture of the area.

pic1 (1)

Footpath coins…..

I’m not a supporter of private reporting schemes as alternatives to the PAS, though I understand the reticence of some to confide in local FLOs. Sharing data helps to build a greater picture of the area and helps us all locate other lucrative areas.

Provided you have reported your finds there’s no reason why you shouldn’t sell them for profit and if you do manage to drop onto a decent find which makes a few quid, the look on your farmer/landowner’s face when you press a ‘century’ into his hand will stay with you for years. Be aware too for flint tools and arrowheads as these are highly collectible especially on sites on the chalk hills known as downlands. The term particularly describes this chalk common to the countryside of southern England. Areas of downland are often referred to simply as ‘Downs’, deriving from the Celtic word for ‘hills’

Roman pottery and bronze brooch.

Some amateur archaeology groups especially those who campaign vociferously against metal detectorists, field-walk farmland collecting flint tools without telling the farmer what they’ve found, or their financial worth. Worst of all they do not record their finds with the PAS – check the data! It’s always as well to drop a word in your farmer/landowner’s ear to keep these woolly-hatted grubbers out of the loop.

Gold or silver Iron Age coins (staters) are often present at or near roman sites and these types have even been found on sites dating from as late as AD 200 and well after the roman invasion of Britain and doubtless used as trading pieces.

At the end of the day, report any finds to the local Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs) though I realise some of you prefer to play your cards close to your chest. Above all, get familiar with the Treasure Act and if you are a visiting detectorist from the US for example, ensure you don’t board the plane back home with unreported finds as you’ll undoubtedly fall foul of antiquities export licence legislation. If you are fortunate enough to make any finds, the FLO will explain the rules of the game. You’ll get them back…eventually, but you’ll be legal and above-board.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme offer this advice (taken from their website)

“It is best practice for finds to be recorded with the PAS before they are exported, although the Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs) may be selective in recording finds shown to them, especially if the objects are less than 300 years old or precise findspot information is lacking. Whilst FLOs welcome the opportunity to records finds prior to export and can provide advice on the export licensing process, they are not able to make applications on behalf of exporters/finders. Exporters/finders (particularly those based abroad), including those attending metal detecting rallies, should make arrangements themselves (perhaps via the landowner or a metal-detecting tour operator) to deposit finds with the FLO for recording. It is the exporters/finders responsibility to collect the finds from the FLO, apply for an export licence, and post them overseas.”


A man in a butcher shop: – “I would like bull’s testicles”

Butcher: “Yeah, me too pal.”



I don’t read books by people who have betrayed the Motherland.

Vladimir Putin





Filed under Metal Detecting

6 responses to “Tips from the Tipsy…

  1. Coin25

    Thanks for the tips.
    I agree that small coils will get in between the trash and ferrit out some goodies.

  2. Coin25

    In that case he should tape the coil to his right shoe and eliminate the shaft weight – then hip mount the main unit and your good to go.

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