Just Being Old is Not Enough…


When perusing the forums, FB pages, I frequently see photos of old dwellings/homesites with a comment like “just got permission for this and can’t wait” or “this baby has to have a few goodies hiding there”.  Well I’m here to tell you that there’s a good chance you will be disappointed. In fact the odds are you probably won’t find much of anything worthwhile. At least that’s been my experience over the years.

With any old structure it helps to know it’s history as in it’s age, it’s use over the years and it’s past inhabitants.  You see that old house might be three  hundred years old but might have been lived in or used for only thirty. IF you’re lucky it was inhabited for many years and was subject to a lot of use and a lot of activity.

Remember too that years ago the population numbers were a lot less plus there weren’t a lot of  people who had money to spend, money to carry or money to lose. The majority were hardworking folks who toiled in the fields and didn’t have “spare” change to carry on their person and if they did they took damn good care of it.

We also had the great depression, and depending on which part of the country you lived in we had the dust bowl and other natural disasters that affected the working class. No work, no pay, no money and it was common practice for a family to pack up and move on when times got tough.

Next, no matter what the owners tell you there’s a good chance the site has been searched already. Our pastime is old enough and crowded enough that “someone” probably put their coil down there.  I can remember quite a few instances where other detectorists told me about hunting sites that I thought were mine exclusively.

This old house near Bowie, Texas yielded exactly one coin (Indian head cent) despite three hours of searching…

Now what you will typically find at old homesites are nails, wire strands, hinges, buttons and random bits and pieces of iron. If it was a farm you can count on an abundance of iron machine parts. Because I was a die hard coinshooter these finds were usually thrown in a junk box once I got home. I get that today they’re worthy of a brag, a photo or two on social media but yeah sorry, just not my cup of tea.

Always remember though that no matter the quantity or quality of your finds the potential for a cache or what I call a stash is always there. 

One room schools fall pretty much into the same category. The children who attended BROUGHT, not BOUGHT lunch and that’s if they were lucky. The idea that they lost money is folly. Old churches/church sites on the other hand tend to be more kind to the detectorist.  While my theory is only that I’m guessing it’s because the poor always managed to find something for the lord, no matter how small. A church’s sole means of support was it’s parishioners.

Other Sites

If you’ve read my “Where to Find Treasure” book you are familiar with the “All Important Big Four“.  What’s the Big Four? Simply WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and FOR HOW LONG?  What event or happening took place, when and where did it take place and how long did it last?

Example – if your community had a yearly carnival, WHEN did it take place, WHERE did it take place and for HOW MANY YEARS did it take place?  Or, if your high school had a baseball team WHEN did they start playing, WHERE did they play their games, and HOW LONG have they been playing there?   If your town had a picnic grove WHERE is it located, HOW long was it used and is it STILL being used today?


Okay, I’m done. That’s my take for the week. Happy hunting and have one for me….it’s hot as hell here!


The New Duck Dynasty Treasure Show 

My Review or Critique


Here’s Another Something for You “Must Have’s”





Filed under Metal Detecting

22 responses to “Just Being Old is Not Enough…

  1. Randy Dee

    All good reading there Dick and a great idea of expectations.

  2. Tony

    Dick, don’t forget about the circle on the ground drawn by the Pastor of the very old churches in the back yards – out of sight of prying eyes. After he draws a huge circle on the ground – he grabs the collection and throws it into the air and says, whatever lands in the circle is mine, what lands outside the circle is God’s (or vise/versa). So don’t forget to detect those back areas for coins because they didn’t have lights back in those days and the old Pastor didn’t see well!

    Gotcha! Still puts a smile on faces these days


    When it comes to detecting old places i prefer the ones that were inhabited up until the invent of electricity coming to the farm. Normally we find that old places that are currently inhabited are plaqued with CCC, cross century contamination. Lots of modern crap within the first 6 inches of moved around 50 year old topsoil.If your lucky maybe something old in an undisturbed area or a squeaker near a walkway,tough going. It pays to read the old maps to find the pre 1930 sites that people left for an easier life with modern conveniences, indoor plumbing included. Some of these places if pretty far off the beaten path can be potential time capules for relics but not many coins.Always nice to find the coins though, puts a date on the place. Stay cool this summer Dick.

  4. Good thing I’m happy with my hoard of ancient pull tabs and square nails! 😂😂😂

    As I was told once, poor people made sure the holes in their pockets were fixed. The rich, not so much.

  5. Gary Banning

    Looking at my experiences over the last 50 years of detecting…your take is correct. Research should still be at the top of the list. I liked your house reference. It reminded me of a 100 year old house I couldn’t wait to get the detector over after getting permission.

    After 4 hours I found one coin. It was a Barber dime… but I had visions of a lot more. Later I found out the guy that lived there didn’t have much money and watched his money close. Now… if I had done my research first… well, you know.

    Always enjoy reading your column… take care.

    • Gary I think it’s only natural to have visions of great finds when we get these kinds of permissions but I learned that age doesn’t always mean treasure. Glad you enjoy my babble….

  6. The age of a site doesn’t always produce the goodies. I’ve been searching a Stone Age site for weeks now, and not found a dammed thing. Is me, do you think, or a fault of the Simplex+? Your advice will be appreciated.

    • Have no idea John. Not familiar with the particulars. I can say that I’ve detected sites too that “should have” given up a few decent finds but provided nothing but head scratching. If you’ve been at it for weeks I’d move along. Perhaps to the Mayfly.

      • Thanks. I’ve even tried upping the SENS on this Stone Age site but still can’t hit the metal. It can’t be the Simplex+ as it works well elsewhere. Am stumped.

      • Ah, STONE AGE. You got me there Bubba. Good one. I’ll get even somehow.

        Still a good idea to lift one at the Mayfly.

  7. Remember too where I live. It’s Texas and well….

    • john taylor

      can’t find what may not be there! perhaps a prayer before the next hunt will make a difference!


  8. john taylor

    my local minister of the hell fire and brimstone variety, blessed mine, but reminded me
    that the true treasure in life is finding “Jesus!”..amen brother! ..I’m just sayin’

    (waiting on the 5th “stab!’)

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