Posts Tagged ‘Metal Detector’

A Penny for your Thoughts

April 17, 2012

The other day, Rog, our curator was out walking in Market Lavington, when he noticed another Roger out with his metal detector. As he watched, our Rog saw the detectorist find something in a field on the sands, awaiting cultivation. Out came the trowel and a hand went down to pick up an item, which was looked at, and put away in the finds bag.

Only then did Roger the detectorist see Rog the curator. They are old friends and soon they were chatting. The find was a penny coin. Soon, it belonged to Market Lavington Museum.

King George V penny, found in a field on The Sands, Market Lavington

This is the penny in ‘as found’ condition. We can see it dates from the reign of King George V – 1910 – 1936. The coin has a deep gouge, perhaps made by an agricultural implement at some time during the last 75 years.

Tails side of this 1936 penny

The tails side gives the year as 1936. George V died on January 20th of that year so one imagines not too many of these coins exist although enough for valuation web sites to describe such a coin – even in good condition, as pretty well worthless.

As a museum, we ponder on whether we should keep items like this. Everything we have must have a local connection, and this surely does, being found, buried in the ground, in the parish. Our pre-decimal pennies, like this, went out of use in 1971 so we’d assume it has been in the ground since then. To youngsters, this is an object from antiquity.

We find museum visitors are very keen on rarities, but most of all, older visitors love to see things they remember. Youngsters will be amazed that a coin of this size – diameter 32 millimetres, was worth less than half a penny in decimal coinage. So we think these ordinary items serve a real purpose.

Finally let us just add that Roger the detectorist had absolute permission to work the fields he was in from the farmer. Like other responsible metal detector users, Roger does a grand job in finding and sharing. Keep up the good work.

A livery button

September 21, 2011

We mentioned, a couple of days ago, that the Yeovil Metal Detecting Club had been seeking the history beneath our feet in both Market Lavington and Easterton. Today we are looking at a small button they gave to us at the museum.

Livery button found in Easterton, Wiltshire, by members of the Yeovil Metal Detecting Club

This metal button, about one and a half centimetres across is believed to be a livery button. Livery buttons were found on the uniform of servants. These could have been domestic servants or uniformed staff who worked for a company. We suspect our button is from the uniform of a domestic servant. We’d love to find out who the servant worked for. The button probably dates from the 19th century.

The image on the button shows a crown. A raised clenched hand comes from the crown. The hand appears to be grasping a sword.

The crown ought to suggest that the servant worked for a titled person, but of course, other people of lower rank might have copied the idea. The fist holding a weapon was used to symbolise power.

So who in the parish – this button was found in Easterton – fits that particular bill?

If you have any ideas do get in touch with the curator. You can click here to start an email to him.

Once again can we thank the patient work of the metal detectorists from Yeovil.

Sixpence from Easterton

September 19, 2011

A museum curator is always on the alert. Whilst eating lunch the other day, our curator became aware of cars gathering on the slopes of the hill across the village.

Yeovil Metal detecting club gather in Market Lavington

It became clear that a metal detecting club were paying a visit. At Market Lavington Museum, we have only ever had good dealings with detectorists – people who enjoy finding and unearthing the history beneath our feet. Our curator went to chat with this group who came from the Yeovil Metal Detecting Club (click here for their website) and who had permission to detect from the land owner.

Earlier in the day, the group had been working a field in Easterton, and soon our curator was receiving some of the finds for the museum. I could emphasise that there was nothing of much monetary value, but money value is no indication of interest.

Let’s have a look at the old sixpence coin they found – what we used to call a tanner.

Heads or obverse of a sixpence found in Easterton

The heads side shows the image of Queen Victoria – queen from 1837 to 1901. The diameter is about 2 centimetres.

tails or reverse side of the Easterton sixpence

On the tails side we have the value of six pence and the date of issue – 1852. The lack of wear indicates that this coin was probably lost not that long after it was minted. Someone would have been annoyed to lose it.

There are several ways of working out relative values of money – then and now. Typically what that six pence would have bought in 1852 would cost about £2.25 now. But if you consider it as a proportion of earnings then those six old pence (2.5p) was equivalent to about £26 – for every 2.5p you might have earned in 1852, you now get about £26. So losing that little coin would have felt like losing £26.

We’d like to thank the detectorists of the Yeovil club for their generosity.

Lead loom weight

March 15, 2010

Market Lavington Museum’s friendly metal detectorist finds many things made of lead and amongst them are objects whose function was probably no more than to serve as a heavy object. This lead item is a loom weight.

Lead loom weight - about 2cm tall

Loom weights like this were tied to the warp threads so that they were kept under tension when weaving was done.

Warp weighted or vertical looms have been in use for thousands of years and still find use today. This makes it hard to date a loom weight, but we suspect it is late medieval. Older lead items tend to have a thicker crust of white lead oxide on them.

Gunpowder measure from the civil war period

March 14, 2010

Just how much Market Lavington was involved in the English civil war is not known. The major Battle of Roundway took place on 13th July 1643, just to the north of Devizes but it seems unlikely that skirmishes took place in the Lavington area.

So probably the 17th century powder-measure, found in a field in the parish and given to the museum, was just a normal part of life for a local person. He, no doubt, was annoyed at his loss. More than three hundred years on, his loss has become our gain.

Powder horn cap and measure

The lead made item served a dual purpose, for it was the lid for a powder horn – the bulk store of gunpowder that people carried. It was made of such a size that it could be used to measure the correct quantity of gunpowder for one shot.

Market Lavington Museum is delighted to work with a local metal detectorist so that such treasures can be seen by the wider public.

A crotal bell

March 10, 2010

The crotal bell is one kind of sheep bell. Bells were worn by some sheep in a flock, particularly (in the parish of Market Lavington) if the flock roamed on Salisbury Plain.

The reason for sheep bells is disputed. Some say it was to help a shepherd find his flock if he couldn’t see them, but others say a good shepherd would not have let the sheep out of his sight. Another idea is that a working shepherd, who could see his sheep, got a warning of the sheep getting disturbed if he heard more bell ringing. Yet another theory says that shepherding was a lonely life and the shepherd just found that the sound of the bells offered some company.

Crotal bell found in Market Lavington

This bell was found by a local metal detectorist. Market Lavington Museum know where it was found. People who use metal detectors can meet with disapproval but we work with a local enthusiast. The arrangement works well for all concerned. The bell was given to the museum just a couple of days ago.

The bell was almost certainly made in Aldbourne in northeast Wiltshire at the foundry of Robert Wells. If so it dates from about 1780. However, the Whitechapel foundry bought the Robert Wells moulds. This means it is possible that the bell was made in East London in the nineteenth century.

The bell measures about 5cm across but is similar in idea to small jingle bells. A metal ‘pea’ is contained within the bell and the sound is made as this ‘pea’ moves about. Our bell is still in good sounding order

Metal Detector Finds in Market Lavington

January 25, 2010

At Market Lavington Museum we work with a local metal detecting person. Metal detecting can get a bad press but by working with ‘our’ man we get the benefit of knowing what has been found and, importantly, just where it was found. We can photograph all of the finds and some can end up on display in the museum.

These are thought to be lead musket balls, all found within the parish boundaries. Apparently this represents a fairly normal level of find and does not suggest that the Market Lavington folk were warlike in any way.

Lead Musket Balls found in the parish

Many of the finds are interesting, pretty even, but of no cash value. Here we have a decorative button. Nothing is known about it. Perhaps you could help.

Can you help identify this metal button?

Somebody has helped with this spoon handle so we know it is made of lead alloy and dates from between 1650 and 1750.

Lead alloy sppon handle from 1650 - 1750

There will be a photographic display of many more metal detector finds in the museum during the 2010 season.