A Q&A with Julie Argent

It was 2011 when Julie Argent decided to join the rest of the family and started detecting. Today?  She’s showing them how it’s done! Thanks Julie for sharing…

Q. Julie, if you don’t mind tell us a little about yourself, i.e., where do you live, are you married, where you keep your valuables, etc….

A. Hi! Although I’m originally from London, I have now lived in Essex for the past 28 years. I have been married to Nick for twenty years and have 2 children, Liam aged 19 and Heidi aged 17. Oh, and not to forget my cat Alfie.

What’s it all about Alfie?

The county of Essex is a lovely area of England, full of historical towns with settlements dating back to the Neolithic period!

(I can’t comment on the last part unfortunately…)

 

Q. I’ve heard that your family enjoys the pastime as well. Can you tell us more?

A. When my son Liam was 10, he was given birthday money from his grandparents and asked us if he could buy a metal detector with it as he was fascinated with history. He had already built up a nice fossil collection but now wanted to find historical metal objects such as coins and artefacts. After we mocked and laughed at him for a few days, we realized he was being serious lol. So Nick looked into the types of machine that fell into Liam’s budget and ended up buying a Garrett Ace 150, which was recommended as a good starter machine back in 2010.

The pair went out door knocking and soon gained permission on a farm with around 1200 acres of arable land (certainly plenty to go at). They’d often go out together at the weekends searching for history and were soon hooked. Rather than share Liam’s detector, Nick decided to buy himself a machine as well, which was a Tesoro Cibola.

After a several months, Nick decided he wanted a machine with a VDI display panel, so he ended up purchasing a Laser Hawkeye. (Liam then started using the Tesoro Cibola).

Roughly, after around 11 months from when the boys started going out, and having a Garrett Ace just sitting there not being used, I thought “what the hell, let’s see what all this fuss is about”. The rest is history, as I was soon hooked on the hobby as well.

Heidi has been out with us a couple of times, but she’s not that keen on detecting or history.

Early photo of Liam, Heidi and Nick

Liam and I

Liam has a few inches on me today….

Liam also started a YouTube channel (Argent Detectorist) around 2014 as well, and is still producing videos to date, but the following is one of my favorites. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Carlsberg lager in America, but it had a slogan of “probably the best lager in the world”. It also had a TV advert campaign saying that if Carlsberg done other activities, they would probably be the best in the world too. “if Carlsberg did….”. This video shows me having a “Carlsberg day” for sure!!!! I found 5 silver Hammered coins that day, a solid gold pocket watch, Roman coins, and many other finds too.

My gold pocket watch

 

Q. When exactly did you start detecting and what was your very first metal detector?

A. So I started in 2011 with Liams Ace 150. I soon decided to upgrade and got a Teknetics T2. An absolutely brilliant machine, but I found it a little bit heavy.

With my T2

 

Q. What was it that made you purchase or use that particular brand/model?

A. Nick had researched the machine for me.

After a couple of years Nick upgraded to an XP Deus. On one particular outing, Nick offered to swap machines with me for the day. Oh my God, I fell in love with the Deus that day, it was so light and the wireless headphones were a dream. I knew I had to get one as soon as possible. Now, all 3 of us have XP Deus’s, (We bought Liam a lite version for his 13th birthday) and wouldn’t change them for anything else. 

Love my Deus

 

Q. In the beginning how did you go about finding places to hunt?

A. We just knocked on doors and asked. Because we are just a normal, regular family, farmers love us. After that, Nick would do a bit of research first. It’s the running joke that I had to go and chat with farmers wearing a fairly low cut top…. (not surprisingly, I’ve got us most of our permissions so far lol)

 

Q. Julie wondering if you remember what was your very first signal/find was?

A. I think it was just a regular Victoria copper penny, nothing old really. Well not for England anyway.

 

Q. And what was your first good or decent find, as in keeper.

A. I found a strange bronze object once. I knew it was old, but didn’t know what it was. The Facebook group I’d joined had so many members that were experts, I knew someone would know so I posted it up. I got an answer within minutes. It was a roman lock pin, also known as a lock plate fastener. It was also a complete example, which is quite unusual as they are normally found broken . We’ve found a few of those now between us, but mine still remains the nicest example. 

Roman lock pin

 

Q. Another memory test….how long did it take you to find your first silver coin and what was it?

A. My first ever silver hammered coin I actually found when I had the T2. It was on a club site, and I’d been detecting around a year by then. Unbeknownst to me, Nick and Liam were chatting across the other side of the field, Nick literally said “I wish mum would find a hammy”. As he muttered those words I was digging it up. It was a beautiful example of an Edward I Penny. I rang him immediately to tell him what I’d found, which is how I found out about the conversation he was just having.

Edward I Penny (my first silver and first hammy)

 

Q. How long did it take you to find your first ring and what type of ring was it?

A. I haven’t found many rings over the years, and most of them are just fragments. It took me around 5 years to find my first complete ring, which was a medieval child’s/woman’s archer’s ring dating to 1250-1500. I recorded this find with the British museum at the time and here is the link.

I also recently found the top section of a bronze roman ring with traces of enameling on it. 

“Top” of Roman ring

 

Q. Julie do you spend a lot of time researching and if so how do you go about it?

A. This is Nick’s forte, so I completely rely on him. He studies aerial photographs, old maps, archaeology reports and written historical data for towns and villages. He has also used LIDAR images.

All old maps for the UK can be found on the National Library of Scotland website. The oldest UK maps date back to around 1860. These are a good source for showing old wells, fresh water springs, battle sites, field boundaries, track ways and footpaths etc.

Also Google earth is vital for the aerial photography showing crop marks of ancient civilization.

Nick hates the fact he does all the research, then I walk over the area and find the goodies! We’re quite competitive in this way.

 

Q. What would you consider to be your very best find after all this time, and if it’s hard to choose just one tell us about the others.

A. I’ve been lucky enough to find 3 gold Celtic quarter staters.

The first will always be special to me. It came completely out of the blue too! I was with Liam and heading off the field because it had started to rain and I got a nice signal in front of me. As I placed the machine to my side on the ground, to my surprise a second signal sounded through my headphones. I dug the signal in front of my feet and that was a shot gun cartridge, then I turned to dig the one to my side…. As I broke open the clod of mud it was getting smaller and smaller and there it was a glint of gold. I knew straight away it was Celtic. It was a North Thames Quarter Stater, 50BC. I found out from Liz Cottam at Chris Rudd Celtic coins that it was also only the 4th known example of that type. With the reversed ‘S’ it made the coin rarer. 

North Thames Quarter Stater, 50BC.

The second was on an open detecting rally in 2015 that anyone could pay and attend. I knew Celtic gold had come up in years previous on a particular field, so headed for that area. There were refilled holes all over the place where other people had detected before me, but it must have been fate because I weaved through them and got a loud sweet signal! This was a ‘Biga’ type Celtic quarter Stater of Cunobelin from the Trinovantes tribe. 

Celtic quarter Stater

The third was on a club dig in 2017, it was only my 5th signal after walking on the field and again another beautiful ‘Biga’ type quarter Stater was there just waiting for me to find. 

And another quarter stater

 

Q. Okay Julie put your thinking cap on, what is your “strangest” find to date?

A. My strangest find to date is a brooch I found a couple of years ago. I’m pretty sure it’s actually unique in design. It is a huge 1st -2nd Century Roman brooch measuring around 4” long. It has various strange bars, lines and appears to have bunches of flowers or grapes on the top side of the brooch. It certainly is very ornate and would have been very flamboyant in its day. 

1st -2nd Century Roman Brooch

 

Q. What is your “OLDEST” find to date?

A. My oldest find to date is a Bronze age dagger/dirk. It’s actually another funny story. I used to put everything on the side from my scrap bag to be checked by the boys before I was allowed to throw anything away. Yep, you guessed it, it had came from my scrap bag! The boys just shook their heads at me as they stared at the 3,000 year old blade on the kitchen counter lol. 

Bronze age dagger/dirk

 

Q. What detector are you using at the moment and why?

A. I still have an XP Deus, but I’m now using the white 9” HF coil. I absolutely love my Deus. It is lovely and light, wireless headphones with great tones and I trust it 100% to not miss anything. I tried a stint with an Equinox 800 for a while, which was heavier and I just couldn’t get on with it. I’ll never venture away from XP ever again! 

I trust my Deus 100%

 

Q. Can you offer a few tips or settings?

A. I only really ever use the Hot programme. I hated it at first because it’s so noisy, being full tones and all metal. But I can’t use anything else now. The audible feedback running with this program is superb once you learn the tones.

 

Q. Julie when you do go detecting what accessories do you use?

A. I wouldn’t be without a pinpointer! I used Garrets for years but Nick bought me an XP Mi-6 for Christmas, and I love it! It’s so much nicer to have the sounds come through the headphones. I also love the searcher finds bag, it’s perfect in size and shape. 

Geared up and ready to go

 

Q. You surely have a bucket list. Care to share it?

A. My top item I’d keel over if I found would be a fully enameled brooch, either Roman or Celtic. I absolutely love artefacts. Obviously, a Roman or Saxon gold coin is up there on the wish list too, lol.

 

Q. What other countries have you hunted in?

A. The only country is England. But we do travel all over England to other Counties. Anywhere usually within a 3 hour radius.

We’ve been as far as Yorkshire, but we’ve also been to Lincolnshire, Wiltshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Dorset, Oxfordshire, Kent, Sussex and obviously Essex. Basically, most of the counties in southern England.

 

Q. Do you belong to a club?

A. We used to be in the Essex Detector Society, we were even on the committee for a long time. Nick would do the talks to the members and id finds, plus run digs etc. But after 10 years we just wanted to concentrate on our own permissions and just enjoy the hobby again. It became a bit of a chore in the end, which wasn’t fun for anyone.

But we are in a few Facebook dig clubs too which is lovely as we don’t have to worry about attending meetings etc.

 

Q. How frequently do you get out detecting today?

A. When fields are available, we try to go out roughly twice a week if we can. Nick works on a job doing shift work, so he gets a lot of time off at home in between shifts. 

Nick & I

 

Q. What would your IDEAL detector look like?

A. A light one. Hence why I swing a Deus!

 

Q. If you could pass along one or two words of advice to beginning detectorists, what would they be?

A. If in doubt, dig it out.

Just dig everything! Even if a signal sounds slightly iffy, dig it up anyway. Some of my best finds have been from iffy signals.

If you find one good item of history, don’t walk on from that area until you have searched that area to death. Usually one good find leads to more.

I think that’s why we are successful as a family. If one of us finds something nice in one part of a field, the other 2 join in so there are 3 machines searching that potential ‘hot spot’ area.

 

Q. If you could pass along a word or two of advice to established detectorists, what would they be?

A. Air swinging!!!

There’s nothing worse than watching old boys that have been detecting for years detect the air. Has no one ever advised them the correct way? Or have they tried and been told to bugger off? I’m always curious of this.

Low and slow is the only way.

D.S. –  Hoping I can persuade Nick to share his story in Q&A down the road….

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8 Comments

Filed under Metal Detecting

8 responses to “A Q&A with Julie Argent

  1. Hey! That Deus is powerful ju-ju! I’m glad you’re giving the ladies some PR…this game ain’t solely the preserve of guys. Metal detecting is one of those pastimes where guys and gals compete on equal terms.
    Another enjoyable interview.

    • Julie Argent

      Hi! Thanks for the comment. It’s definitely a level playing field, that’s for sure. Except I like to think I’m better than my boys 😂😂😂. To be honest, it’s just nice to get out as a family and enjoy the same hobby.

  2. wintersen

    There are articles on both Nick and Julie in the August edition of the UK Searcher magazine – available now: https://www.thesearcher.co.uk/

  3. Bob Sickler

    Impressive finds from impressive huntsites and an impressive woman! A perfect example of the results from learning to use fully what you like best! Nicely done!

    • Julie Argent

      Hi Bob! Thanks 🤗
      I love and trust my machine so much❤️. It’s definitely worth spending the time to learn it to get the very best from it.
      Thanks for the comment

  4. Tony

    Julie, good show – as they use to say!You are very lucky to have a family that enjoys this crazy hobby and to live in such a historic area. Thanks for the tips and best of luck!

  5. Julie Argent

    Hi Tony! “good show old chap” 😂
    I agree, we’re very lucky to enjoy this amazing hobby as a family ❤️
    Thanks for your comment 👍
    Good luck to you too 🍀

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