Early Spring 2007



Crime Scene

The area in the above photograph, at Hawton, near Newark, has been taped off by the Nottinghamshire Constabulary SOCO ( Scenes of Crime Officer) as a possible crime scene. Enquiries are being made to determine the identity of the hole diggers.

About twenty of these deep, square or oblong shaped unsightly holes have been dug in the field. At the moment the finger of suspicion falls on a mysterious band of unkempt desperadoes who roam the countryside at will, with spades, causing havoc and destruction. Could they be Nighthawkers?

Investigations are continuing and you will be updated as and when sufficient evidence is found to identify the perpetrators.

A Deadly Halfpenny

Obverse Reverse 25.4mm Diameter

This unusual artefact was found by Dave Rhodes on a recent club search. It is an arrow head cut from a ship halfpenny with the head of George the VI on it and was minted between 1937 and 1952. The point is nearly needle sharp and would be capable of inflicting a serious wound.

Bellarmine Jug or Witch Bottle

A Shard Tale

A recent club search was held in in south Nottinghamshire on a field that had, in the past, produced coins and artefacts from Celtic to modern times. During the search Mick Peel found by ‘eyes only’ a large shard of a stoneware bottle. The fragment had part of a man’s face showing, mainly, his eyes. Mick, a bottle dump digger and a collector of bottles for many years, immediately identified it as part of a ‘Bellarmine’ bottle or jug.
Bellarmine bottles and jugs were also known as Bartmann’s, meaning bearded man, Greybeard’s and sometimes Witch bottles, they had a glaze of blue, grey or golden brown on the outside. Usually containing wine or beer and made from about 1500 onwards in Germany, Belgium and Holland, they were exported to England in large quantities. In the early 17th. Century an immigrant, Syman Wooltus, made the first English stoneware.

In the late 1500s Dutch stoneware bottles and jugs had a stamped impression of a bearded man on them, this was Cardinal Robert Bellarmine 1542—1621. He was a bitter opponent of the Dutch Reformed Church and it was usual for Protestants to insult him by smashing the bottle but only after the contents had been drunk!

Cardinal Robert Bellarmine

From the 1500s similar bottles were also known as Witch bottles, they were rounder and about 9 inches high, also with an embossed bearded face. The Witch bottle was used to trap evil and protect against evil spirits and magical spells. It would be prepared by a Witch for anyone who feared they were subject of spells or other magical attacks. Urine, hair and nail clippings of the person threatened together with thorns, sharp pieces of glass, wood or bone were sealed in the bottle and buried in the farthest corner of the property, beneath the fire place hearth or plastered into the walls. It is thought that the buried or hidden bottles captured the evil that threatened and impaled it on the sharp objects, finally drowning it in the urine. It was only effective as long as the bottle remained hidden.
A complete Bellarmine bottle Old Greybeard Mick's Bellarmine jug or bottle shard. Notice how the eye-brows and shape of the eyes compare with those of Old Greybeard Lots of Bottle.

Let's face it, this is how most detectorists wish to find a Bellarmine

Medieval Pendant Crucifix

Late 13th. to 15th. Century

Whilst on a club search near Southwell, Nottinghamshire, Ron Tansley found this cast copper alloy pendant crucifix, shown here at full size. There are signs that the crucifix would have been gilded at some time. The suspension loop on the top arm is broken, possibly the reason for its loss. There is an in depth figure of Christ wearing a loincloth on both sides of the cross. It measures, height 55mm., width 50.5mm., thickness 12.2mm., and weighs 29g

Siege Pieces

During the English civil war both warring factions had great need for money to pay for the conflict. The King’s treasury soon became depleted after he was besieged in castle after castle. His followers gave up their gold and silver plate to make up the shortfall when the regular supply of officially minted coin dried up. The plate was cut into small pieces and crudely stamped, some of these clippings still have the remnants of the plate’s original design on them.

Most issues bore the inscription OBS (obsessum, Latin for besieged) the name of the castle, or town, and a value on them. They were cut into various shapes and sizes some, like the ones issued in Scarborough, were irregular in shape. Others:- Carlisle round or octagonal, Pontefract octagonal, Colchester silver round and a gold ten shilling piece the latter is thought to be false. The ones we are likely to be interested

in were issued at Newark and are lozenge or diamond in shape. The Newark coins were struck in the following values, sixpence, nine pence, shilling and halfcrown, whilst the town was besieged three times finally surrendering in May, 1646.
I was detecting in the early 1980’s with Jack Archer, sadly no longer with us, at Linby near to the boundary with Papplewick when he found a nine penny Newark siege piece similar to the one illustrated here but in far better condition.


Over the years and certainly since I took up metal detecting as my main hobby I have acquired a fairly large library of coin, artefact and history books. These books cover a wide range of subjects that relate to the hobby of metal detecting, some have been Christmas and birthday presents, however the majority have come from charity shops.

That was in the days when a charity shop was a charity shop and charged reasonable prices for their donated books. Not like today where, if you come across an interesting non-fiction book amongst the ever present Mills and Boon’s, it can be priced in the teens of pounds. That is if you can find one in the shop, most charity shops have their books picked over by experts at a central point and all the books that should be bargains for the general public are spirited away and auctioned to dealers. You may say ‘fair do’s’ and the charity must maximise on its donations, fair enough, but why are the dates and venues of the auctions not made public and posted up in the shops to give everyone a fair bite of the cherry. Anyway that’s my moan for this issue of the newsletter.

I intend to tell you about some of my books in this and future newsletters, if this is not to your liking you can prevent it by sending in your contributions, photographs and articles to fill each issue, I will gladly give way and print them in preference.

My first book is:-
LIVERY BUTTONS. The Pitt Collection
Gwen Squire.

This is a book I was given as a birthday present in 1979, soon after I started metal detecting, it contains nearly 3,000 photographs of livery buttons in the Pitt collection. The earliest button in the book was made by Robert Bushby in about 1800 and the latest in 1861.

The livery is a suit of clothes provided for a manservant by his master, also it was usual for a powdered wig to be worn. The colours of the livery are of the field and main charge of the armorial shield. Most of the buttons in the book have the crest mounted on a torse, also known as a force or a crest wreath, it is a twisted band of silk

with six segments visible. This ribbon or scarf was used in the days of Chivalry to hide the ugly joint where the crest was bolted to the helm and made by a lady for her knight.

It is interesting to know how many buttons were worn on a livery uniform, here is an account dated 1780 of the Duke of Norfolk ‘For the making William Woods a Livery Coat and vest. 5 yards of Scarlet Shilloon, 2½doz of coat buttons and 2doz. of mixed vest buttons.’ That adds up to 30 large coat and 24 small vest buttons for one servant’s livery coat and vest, 54 in all, no wonder so many are there to be found.

Unfortunately the book is now out of print. The only copy I could find for sale on the internet was priced at £135 plus postage!

Ashfield Metal Detecting Club

Annual General Meeting 2007

Election of Officers

Chairman : Richard Northey

Treasurer : Mary Severn

Site Secretary 2 : Dave Hallam
Secretary : John Radford

Site Secretary 1 : John Oscroft

Committee Members

Subscriptions : Dave Rhodes

Lottery Organiser : Pat Walker

Library : John Wardle

Roger Bacon           Duncan Walters
All proposed officials were unopposed

Chairman's Award

The outgoing Chairman, Ron Tansley, made his Chairman’s Award to Jeff Oscroft as the person who had done the most for the club in the past year.

Whoops !

The photograph was taken on a recent search near the end of a long farm track. The combination of a powerful gust of wind, a slippery muddy patch of track and a moments inattention resulted in****** ’s car landing in the ditch. Luckily John Wardle came to the rescue and provided a tow out with his 4x4.   How not to park !

Orders For Household Servants 1566

Orders for Household Servantes; first deuised by John Haryngton, in the yeare 1566, and renewed by John Haryngton, sonne of the saide John, in the yeare 1592: The saide John, the sonne, being then high shrieve of the county of Somerset.

Imprimis, That no servant bee absent from praier, at morning or euening, without a lawfull excuse, to be alleged within one day after, vppon paine to forfeit for eury tyme 2d.
II. Item, That none swear any othe, vppon paine for every othe 1d.
III. Item, That no man leaue any doore open that he findeth shut, without theare bee cause, vppon paine for euery time 1d.
IV. Item, That none of the men be in bed, from our Lady-day to Michaelmas, after 6 of the clock in the morning; nor out of his bed after 10 of the clock at night; nor, from Michaemas till our Lady-day, in bed after 7 in the morning, nor out after 9 at night, without reasonable cause, on paine of 2d.
V. That no man's bed bee vnmade, nor fire or candle-box vnclean, after 8 of the clock in the morning, on paine of 1d.
VI. Item, That no one commit any nuisance within either of the courts, vppon paine of 1d.
VII. Item, That no man teach any of the children any vnhonest speeche, or evil word, or othe, on paine of 4d.
VIII. Item, That no man waite at the table without a trencher in his hand, except it be vppon some good cause, on paine of Id.
IX. Item, That no man appointed to waite at my table be absent that meale, without reasonable cause, on paine of 1d.
X. Item, If any man breake a glasse, hee shall aunswer the price thereof out of his wages; and, if it be not known who breake it, the buttler shall pay for it on paine of 12d.
XI. Item, The table must bee couered halfe an houer before 11 at dinner, and 6 at supper, or before, on paine of 2d.
XII. Item, That meate be readie at 11, or before, at dinner; and 6, or before, supper, on paine of 6d.
XIII. Item, That none be absent, without leaue or good cause, the whole day, or any part of it, on paine of 4d.
XIV. Item, That no man strike his fellow, on paine of loss of seruice; nor reuile or threaten, or prouoke another to strike, on paine of 12d.
XV. Item, That no man come to the kitchen without reasonable cause, on paine of 1d. and the cook likewyse to forfeit 1d.
XVI. Item, That none toy with the maids, on paine of 4d.
XVII. That no man weare foule shirt on Sunday, nor broken hose or shooes, or dublett without buttons, on paine of 1d.
XVIII. Item, That, when any strainger goeth hence, the chamber be drest vp againe within 4 howrs after, on paine of 1d.
XIX. Item, That the hall bee made cleane euery day, by eight in the winter, and seauen in the sommer, on paine of him that should do it to forfeit 1d.
XX. That the cowrt-gate bee shutt each meale, and not opened during dinner and supper, without just cause, on paine the porter to forfet for euery time, 1d.
XXI. Item, That all stayrs in the house, and other rooms that neede shall require, bee made cleane on Fryday after dinner, on paine of forfeyture of euery on whome it shall belong vnto, 3d.
All which sommes shall be duly paide each quarter-day out of their wages, and bestowed on the poore, or other godly vse.

Considering the low wages, and value of a silver penny, in 1566 these fines must have been very harsh.

Have You Checked Through Your “Scrap” Finds Lately ?

By John Radford

Here’s a bit of cautionary advice, given from my own experience just recently.

Many months ago I found what looked like “just a fancy button” and that was the opinion of many, so in the button box it went with the many others.

At the end of November I was ill and unable to detect so I had to resort to reading through a few of my “Finds Identified” books and admire the many fantastic finds that had been recovered by others.

It was while flicking through the pages of one book that I noticed something familiar listed as a bowl mount with a silvery surface under Saxon items.

Thinking that I had probably seen it in some other book, I put it to the back of my mind until later that day when I suddenly realised it was very similar to something I had found.

Sorting through the button box I found the item and cleaned it up, there was no trace of a button fastening on the back and although the item was not exactly the same it was very similar, even down to the “silvery surface” description and size.

So now it awaits positive (or negative!) identification by our Finds Liaison Officer and fingers crossed I may have found my first Saxon artefact.

Fortunately I keep a record of what has been found and where (including fancy buttons!) so I could find the details for this find, in fact I can remember finding it because it was unusual.

Needless to say it’s not going back in the button box!

So never throw anything away, you may later find that you have something special.

Book Illustration

My find

When it is positively identified I will update this article with the result.

Find Of The Month


Henry VII hammered
silver half groat.
Episcopal mint York
Archbishop Savage

Found by Dennis Brown
Gold Ring, no photograph available

Found by Roger Bacon



Edward III
hammered silver groat
London mint

Found by John Wardle

Horse harness quatrefoil pendant 14th Centuary
Prancing lions of England flanked by fleurs-de-lis

Found by Jeff Oscroft



Henry VI
hammered silver penny
Calais mint

Found by John Radford

Shield Shaped Trade Weight - 14th / 15th Centuary
On the left is the weight found by David
On the right is a clearer illustration showing the lion rampant

Found by David Hallam

An Exciting Moment

John Radford had a heart stopping moment when he unearthed this ring on a club search. In response to his excited shouts the rest of the club members gathered round to admire his sovereign ring. On examination the sovereign puzzled us, no one had ever seen a sovereign with the words ‘ St George Medal’ on it.
John spent many hours searching learned books to date and identify the ring before finally he dated it as ‘Early Argos’ from their catalogue.

Other Finds

Richard II
Gold Quarter Noble

This beautiful coin was found
by John Wardle
on one of his own sites



Bracelet found by Mick Peel

Casket key found by
John Radford


Betrothal Ring

This 15 carat gold betrothal ring was found on a club search by John Gough. It is hall marked 1895 and part of the inscription gives the date April 18th. 1895, the monogram appears to be A.C. & J.F.

A betrothal ring, given by the man to his intended bride, was the forerunner of the modern engagement ring and signified a mutual and serious intention to marry. It also served as a warning to possible suitors to keep off.

In some western cultures betrothal sometimes allowed couples to engage in sexual activities beyond those of couples who were merely dating or courting but far short of sexual intercourse. For instance in parts of Scotland betrothed, or engaged, couples were allowed to sleep in the same bed. However a measure of caution was exercised because both parties were sewn up in separate sleeping bags and actual physical contact was not supposed to happen. This custom was known as ‘bundling.’

Urgently Required

Articles, or suggestions for articles are needed for the next issue of this newsletter. If you have any ideas or illustrations please let John Gough know. Even if your suggestion is not of a find made on a club search, if it is interesting, we need it!

Braveheart ?
This is either Braveheart encouraging the Clans before a battle or John Wardle celebrating his winning of the club’s annual Knobbly Knees Contest.
Photographed by Susan Toone in Summer 2006.
  They Munch At Lunch
It is hard to believe that this photograph was taken in early January this year, it was more like a warm spring day. Is this a sign of things to come?
The usual suspects in this case are :-
John Radford, David Hallam, Dennis Brown and John Wardle taking a break before the afternoon detecting session begins.
(Notice the designer chairs, a Lidl Monday special)

C. W. Tooley Nottingham Market Tally

This alloy Nottingham Market tally was found by Jeff Oscroft on a club search. It is 27.5mm. in diameter and 1.4g. in weight, the surface has some pitting caused by corrosion which is unfortunately all too common to find in this type of metal when it is recovered from the soil.
The tally was shown to Grenville Chamberlain, Secretary of the Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire and author of the book ‘Nottingham Market Tallies’. He said the tally had not been recorded in his book and to the best of his knowledge was of a previously unknown type. He asked if he could record it and use it when he updated the book. Jeff agreed to this and went even further by saying that Grenville could keep the token to add to his collection.

A few days later Jeff received a copy of Grenville’s book, Nottingham Market Tallies, with an inscription inside the front cover thanking him for the gift of the market tally. This is another example of a metal detectorist acting responsibly and a practical demonstration of the value of metal detectors in the recording and preserving of our history.

Well done Jeff.

The purpose of the market tallies was to ensure that the containers, used by market wholesalers, were returned to the supplying wholesaler so either 1s. or 6d. was added to the bill for each container. To reclaim this deposit both the container and the tally had to be returned at the same time. This prevented the return of containers by unauthorised persons. It is believed that this security system was introduced in the 1860s and ended in the 1920s being replaced with an ’Empties Credit Note’.

Hedge Dating

Most metal detectorists have, at times, looked at the landscape whilst in the fields and wondered how much activity had it seen over the years. Of course a knowledge of local history and the research most detectorists do before searching a site helps enormously. However there is one, not too well known, but simple way to compliment this, it is by hedge dating.

Although hedges have been ruthlessly uprooted in recent times there appears to be a more enlightened outlook now and new hedges are being planted in some parts of the country. Often in the past hedges were used as boundaries for counties, parishes, manors and parks, sometimes following the lines of even older boundaries, possibly of Anglo Saxon and medieval origin.

Footpaths in fields are of more than a passing interest to the detectorist. It is common sense that the places to look for chance losses are where people have walked in the past. Footpaths are ideal for this because they restricted the user to a fairly narrow usually well defined strip of ground. The width of this strip was dictated, as a rule, by a hedge and the edge of the crop growing in the field.

Field hedges being man made are normally in fairly straight lines, this artificial addition to the landscape was commonly a one species planting and for other native species to colonise the same hedgerow conditions had to be right. A Doctor Hooper made a study of English hedgerows some years ago and concluded that a hedgerow over a thirty yard row would naturally gain different shrubs at the rate of one species each century. Using Doctor Hooper’s system a thirty yard stretch of hedge is examined and the number of different species of trees and shrubs counted, this number is then multiplied by one hundred and the answer is a rough guide to the age of the hedge. Therefore our thirty yard length of hedge with say ten different species growing in it is about one thousand years old. If you are fortunate enough to detect in a field with a hedge containing either Field Maple or Common Spindle the chances are that it was planted in Elizabethan times or earlier. Field Maple will only colonise a hedge when four other species are established and the Common Spindle when there are six other species present. That would indicate that for Field Maple to be present the hedge would have to be at least four hundred years old and for the Common Spindle 600 years old.

This ‘rule of thumb’ dating can sometimes be wildly out if owing to the whims of the landowner or in the terms of a lease, a mixed species hedge was originally planted.

Happy counting.

Common Spindle Come Harvest ! Field Maple

Stop Press Stop Press Stop Press Stop Press

Ground Breaking News

Our intrepid undercover reporter, at great personal risk has managed to uncover the identity of the desperados now known as the Hawton Gang. (See the top of this page for the initial report). He actually photographed them committing acts of wanton destruction to the stratified layers of this field, at Hawton, Newark, Nottinghamshire, by delving far under the plough level. It is thought they may have plans to have the site scheduled to prevent any further investigations into their dubious activities and so avoid responsibility for their actions. Who are they? Why Archaeologists of course! Who else could get away with it? Not metal detectorists, that is for sure.

Just a thought, in 500 years when a future ‘Waste of Time Team’ run out of our bodies to dig up and excavate this site, will they interpret the disturbed strata as post holes and record it as an early Anglo Saxon palace or similar building of great status?

Written by John Gough

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