Posts Tagged ‘Metal Detector’

Clean Hands for Health

July 10, 2015

This is another metal detector find from the old recreation ground. It is, or was, a pin badge (the pin is missing) with the simple message, ‘clean hands for health’.

Clean hands for health badge (ca 1926) found in Market Lavington

Clean hands for health badge (ca 1926) found in Market Lavington

It has real meaning today, with the outbreaks of antibiotic resistant hospital infections but in fact this badge dates from around 1926. It was a Lifebuoy Soap merit award for children. Lever Brothers, who made Lifebuoy, started this campaign in 1926 in an attempt to educate children about dirt and germs and to wash their hands ‘before breakfast, before dinner and after school.’

No doubt a youngster, out on the old ‘rec’ was sad to lose the badge but maybe they had kept their certificate which came with it.

Ninety years (almost) on, we find that health workers are wearing a badge called a biovigil which detects washing gel and changes colour and beeps when hands need washing.

Technology may change. It seems that reminders regarding cleanliness do not.


A collection of Medieval buckles

January 3, 2015

It is some time since we last looked at metal detector finds. Today we are looking at a collection which came from Norman. He has found, in one location in Market Lavington, a little collection of buckles which date from between 1200 and 1400 which makes them 600 to 800 years old.

Medieval buckles all found in Market Lavington

Medieval buckles all found in Market Lavington

These look to be utilitarian devices. They served a fastening purpose but were in base metal and have no ornamentation.

No doubt it was very irritating to our medieval ancestors when these items got lost or broke. Maybe shoes of some kind would no longer stay on, or bags would no longer stay closed. It’s possible that something more substantially valuable – a purse, for example – was lost at the same time. The breaking of these buckles, all those years ago could have spelt disaster or heartache for a former Market Lavington resident.

And what we can see is that the folks in those long ago times, were not so different from us. In recent years, Velcro and plastic fasteners have replaced many of the functions where buckles like this were once used, but even so, most people will still have things that fasten in this way.

Thanks, Norman, for further interesting finds.

A Jew’s harp

November 17, 2014

Amongst the more amusing metal detector finds recently given to us at Market Lavington Museum is this piece of slightly mangled metal.

Remains of a Jew's harp found in Market Lavington

Remains of a Jew’s harp found in Market Lavington

This is what remains of a Jew’s harp. We should say that these rather basic instruments are not harps or Jewish in origin. Actually, origins are lost in the depths of time and as a musical device they are truly worldwide.

There should be a twangy strip of metal attached at the left hand end and passing between the two points at the open end. Our metal detector find is mis-shapen.

The idea is that the two pointed ends are held between front teeth and the twangy strip (known as the reed) is flicked with fingers so it passes between the teeth. The player’s mouth acts as a sound box and by altering the shape of the mouth and the tongue position the tone, and to some extent the note, can be altered.

The fact that jaws are used to hold the device leads to its alternative and more sensible name of a jaws harp.

We don’t have this item dated but it looks in pretty good condition so is probably 20th century. It may have been a piece of litter. Once the reed breaks off it is useless and a careless youngster may have discarded the rest of it. It was found on what used to be the village recreation ground.

Not the Great Exhibition

November 10, 2014

The Great Exhibition of 1851 was a roaring success. This was the exhibition for which the huge Crystal Palace was built in Hyde Park. People flocked to visit it and, under the stewardship of Prince Albert it was seen as ‘the’ place to go. And people could get there for the new railways provided relatively rapid routes to London from all over the country. Of course the Crystal Palace was moved when the exhibition was over and gave its name to an area of South London.

It was inevitable that such a wonderful event would be repeated and so we come to the London International Exhibition of 1862.

If, reader, you have never heard of this event – vastly bigger than the 1851 exhibition – then you are not alone. It failed to inspire the great British public back then in much the same way as the Millennium Dome did 140 years later. It has largely been forgotten although the site it occupied now houses the Science and Natural History museums. The building itself was demolished and demolition materials were used to build Alexandra Palace in North London.

And what has all this to do with Market Lavington? Simply that a metal detectorist found a small medallion depicting the building and giving the date and name.

1862 International Exhibition medallion found in Market Lavington

1862 International Exhibition medallion found in Market Lavington

For a base metal item found in the ground it is in remarkably good condition It is about 2½ centimetres in diameter and as we can see from the damaged areas it is thin with strength provided as much by the embossing as by any thickness of metal.

Presumably somebody from the area actually went to the exhibition. Let’s hope they weren’t too sad when they lost this memento.

A fake shilling

October 14, 2014

Dishonesty and forgery is nothing new. The haul of finds recently given to us by Metal detectorist Norman includes a fake shilling in the style of a George III coin.

Heads or obverse side of a fake 1819 shilling found in Market Lavington

Heads or obverse side of a fake 1819 shilling found in Market Lavington

This coin is dated 1819 and appears very much like the real thing.

The reverse of the same coin

The reverse of the same coin

However, we understand this coin is a forgery and clearly it is made of base metal and not silver. No doubt it would have had a coating to make it appear silver but that has gone.

We imagine it was a professional criminal who made this coin and its appearance in Market Lavington was, no doubt, just one of those things. Sadly – and it really was sad – somebody who probably never knew it was a forgery lost it. Of course, we do not know the year in which it was lost for coins have quite a long life – but if we imagine that the shilling was somebody’s income in 1820, then it is would be equivalent to an income of over £50 now.

But, as a forgery, it was actually worth nothing. But we find this interesting at the museum because it reminds us of the fact that crooks were about a couple of hundred years ago.

The keys – but to what?

September 20, 2014

Good old Norman is what we say. He has found so many interesting items with his metal detector, and passed them on to us.

Today we look at a couple of keys.

Two 12th century keys found in Market Lavington

Two 12th century keys found in Market Lavington

Norman has always been careful with information. He has taken items to the finds officer at Devizes and has these keys dated to about the 12th century. They are something like 900 years old.

They are small keys – about 7cm long – certainly not the large church door type keys of old. These must have been used to lock away personal items in some kind of cupboard or cabinet or maybe a small chest or casket.

There is not much more irritating than losing a key. It means you have to break in to your own item and render it useless as a safe and secure storage place. So no doubt one or two 12th century people were really annoyed that these keys jumped out of their pocket or bag and got lost in a field, somewhere in Market Lavington


Diamond Jubilee

September 6, 2014

Queen Victoria became much loved – well, we all love an old lady and as most British people, by 1897, had never known another monarch, she must have seemed like a timeless symbol of our country. People in their tens of thousands bought commemorative items back then, for in 1897 Victoria celebrated 60 years as queen. It was her diamond jubilee.

We have looked at some commemorative items we have in Market Lavington Museum in the past. You can see a commemorative magazine here and a brooch by clicking here.

We now add a medallion, courtesy of Norman’s metal detecting finds.

Diamond Jubilee medallion at Market Lavington Museum

Diamond Jubilee medallion at Market Lavington Museum

This was lost in the old recreation field and no doubt somebody was saddened to realise it had gone.

It’s cheaply made of base metal and has evidence that it once had a loop at the top. Presumably this was attached to clothing in some way, but sadly, for the owner, it broke and the medallion fell to earth.

100 years or so later it was found by Norman and now has a permanent home at the museum.

A local club, the Easterton Archers, also use metal detectors to locate arrows that have missed the target.

Easterton Archers meet on Wednesdays behind Easterton Village Hall

Easterton Archers meet on Wednesdays behind Easterton Village Hall

This 2014 archer looks satisfied so no doubt he hit every time.

The Loyal Volunteers

September 2, 2014

Today we look at metal detector finds by Norman – part of the group recently donated to us. These are Lavington Loyal Volunteer buttons.

Lavington Loyal Volunteer buttons found in Market Lavington.

Lavington Loyal Volunteer buttons found in Market Lavington.

There are half a dozen of these buttons in two different sizes but each carries the same information on the front.

One button enlarged

One button enlarged

The buttons have a royal crown in the centre and the legend ‘Lavington Loyal Volunteers’ around the edge.

The Loyal Volunteers were, in effect, the Territorial Army of their day. The members were men who were ready and willing to fight for their country should the need arise. They met regularly and practised their rifle skills with regular competitions. Many local men of all classes of society were members.

The history of volunteering certainly goes back into the 18th century but it was in the early years of the 19th, when Britain felt under threat from Napoleon’s French forces that things really took off. We believe these buttons, all found in Market Lavington, date from that Napoleonic era.

Officially, Loyal Volunteers were disbanded after the threat of invasion had gone, in 1816, but certainly a local group was known as ‘The Loyal Volunteers’ until at least World War One

Golden Jubilee medallion

August 29, 2014

It was a couple of years ago that we really had a royal year at the museum as we celebrated the diamond jubilee of our present queen.

Today we look back to 1887 and the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria via another of Norman’s metal detector finds.

1887 Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee medallion - a Market Lavington metal detector find

1887 Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee medallion – a Market Lavington metal detector find

This medallion measures less than two inches (5cm) across. It shows a profile view of Victoria in the middle and traces four major events in her life on the four branches of the cross.

Starting on the left we have that she was born in 1819 and this branch of the cross shows a shamrock plant to represent Ireland which was all, then, a part of the one country.

At the top we have that she was crowned in 1838 (she became queen in 1837). That branch of the cross shows a crown.

On the right we have that she married in 1840. Her husband, of course, was Albert. We also see here a thistle to represent Scotland.

And at the bottom we have jubilee year of 1887 with an English rose.

The medallion looks as though it might have had a bar at the top and may have been held to a garment with a ribbon and pin.

We imagine somebody was sorry to lose it. Maybe they’d be happy to know that nearly 120 years after it was made it now has a home at Market Lavington Museum.

Metal detecting finds, August 2013.

August 28, 2013


With the harvest over and the soil scratched up, it was no surprise that metal detectorists appeared on the fields above the village. The metal detectorists we find in Market Lavington all seem like good sorts. They record their finds, seek out the help of professional archaeologists and absolutely always have permission to work the fields.

They also have an enthusiasm and dedication which almost beggars belief.

The lonely life of the metal detectorist on the fields above Market Lavington

The lonely life of the metal detectorist on the fields above Market Lavington

There we see a detectorist at work in rather drab weather slowly patrolling the big fields. Later in the day it drizzled and then rained but our friend continued his patrol.


Yes, it is a man with detector and shovel

Yes, it is a man with detector and shovel

Our curator wandered out into the field to meet this chap with the hope of photographing any finds. This he did, but he was also given some items.

People have been losing money in these fields for close on 900 years, as evidenced by the finds of the day.

Let’s work through time.


This is a penny. It is made of silver and probably dates from the reign of King Edward II in around 1290.

If you want to know how annoyed the person was who lost that coin just consider that the time taken in earning that penny would have earned today’s labourer some £56. It was significant money.

Lost in the same field, but more than three hundred years later is this rose farthing, probably from the reign of Charles I


This might be like us losing a £2 coin

Now we’ll move on to the 20th century where some poor soul lost this 1919 penny.


The loss of this was probably more like us losing 50p – assuming the coin was lost when it was quite new.

And finally, a 1960 sixpence.


That shows the use of base metals for coinage. The silver coloured sixpence is very tarnished. Inflation has been significant in the last fifty years so even that sixpence loss would be more like losing a one pound coin now.

Our thanks go to ‘Cooky’ of the Trowbridge metal detecting club for his time and for the gift of these and other items.