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  • Writer's pictureNikoline Treasure

Exploring majestic England for the first time

It was with great curiosity that I set a course for London this month. I had been told by fellow detectorists of this country’s legendary history. They urged me to visit and told enchanting tales of charming countryside towns surrounded by fields “full of Roman coin hoards.” Such telling’s are the type of stories metal detecting dreams are made of and that is exactly what I assumed them to be, misrepresented dreams. I had heard thousands of times how beautiful, lush, and rainy a land this was, steeped in history and keen on tradition, but never could I have imagined the timeless wonder I encountered. England’s fairytale-like rolling hillsides covered in vibrant wildflowers, whispering grasses, and herds of roaming sleep felt much like stepping into a Medieval fairytale.

This adventure began the moment I passed through international customs and exited Heathrow baggage claim where I was greeted by my friend Gary and whisked off to the beautiful town of Winchester. Gary is great. He is an intelligent, methodical, curious, and kind Detectorist. If you have ever owned an XP metal detector you have probably watched several of his tutorial videos on YouTube. They are concise and easy to follow how-to guides on the XP Deus interface, custom settings, and performance optimization.

Getting ready to Metal Detect the field
Gary smiles at the promiss of treasure

The first stop was Winchester Cathedral which was built between AD1079 and AD1532 and is known to be the longest Medieval cathedral in Europe. It is a Gothic architectural wonder on the outside and a continuous intricate marvel on the inside. Stained glass masterpieces enchant every window, carved archways spiral to the heavens, grinning gargoyles perch on pedestals and in corners, large gravestones pave the floors, and haunting stone effigies rest on marble coffins lining the cathedrals walkways. Here one visits those of yesterday, under their divine roof, and on their terms.

After experiencing the grandeur of Winchester Cathedral Gary took me to Winchester city museum where we gazed upon displays containing many of the coins and artifacts one dreams of finding when metal detecting an English field. It was incredibly interesting and very helpful to see the Roman, Saxon, and Medieval artifacts in person. When one has witnessed the exact size and composition of an item it becomes much easier to understand exactly how it will ring up on a metal detector. I could now begin to visualize the quest that lay before us. As a final lesson in local history we visited the sculpture of King Alfred the Great.

The following two days were a marvelous metal detecting march through England’s tangential history. Here I learned many unexpected but useful bits of knowledge including; how to evade a flock of cows who wish to graze where one detects and how Roman soldiers marched on the ledges of the hillsides in order to spot an enemy’s camp from a great distance.

On day 2 Gary said, “Today we are going to go somewhere special.” We headed west for several hours and passed Stone Henge en route. There was no time to visit it up close but it was indeed impressive even from a great distance and threw the car window.

We finally arrived at an organized metal detecting rally and hit the fields swinging. My metal detecting finds at this rally were few and consisted of buttons and nondescript metal scrap. However here I witnessed others discovering Roman, Saxon, and Medieval coins. I held up a fellow detectorist's newly found Roman coin against the skyline and instantly pictured hundreds of Roman soldiers marching orderly along the distant hill tops. This was a delight and gave me high hopes for the upcoming days’ finds.

I also met some wonderful people at this rally including Steve Hendridge who arranged the rally, Peter and Sarah Welch from the Weekend Wanderers club who host organized metal detecting vacations, and Paul and Shane Bancroft. Paul helps alongside Gary with the XP videos.

Upon departing the rally we drove past a magpie. Gary tugged on his ear lobe and Steve in the passenger seat saluted. I scratched my head. Steve then proceeded to explain that the magpie was a special bird. According to superstition one must salute a single magpie in passing in-order to ward off a bad omen. He then proceeded to explain this superstition was not limited to passing the single magpie. In fact the number of magpies one passed determined what the omen was. Gary then proceeded to recite a poem which goes as follows.

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret never to be told

I instantly recognized this poem from the British comedy television series called “Detectorists” and was tickled to learn it was not original to the show but in fact is an old folk song

On the third and final day of this metal detecting adventure we set out towards the South East and stopped to pick up snacks at a local grocery store. Whereafter we proceeded to also pick up Gary’s good friend and cameraman Stewart. Stewart is a highly knowledgeable detectorist and a very talented Jeweler. He knows all the classifications and terminology for coins, buckles, and buttons throughout the ages and he makes some really cool metal detecting jewelry out of gold, silver, and copper. He showed me this cool pendant he designed. It is a pendant in the style of a Roman coin. On one side it features the Roman Emperor Galba wearing a pair of metal detecting headphones and on the obverse side it features a coil wrapped in vines. You can see more of Stewart's awesome work at Gemina.

We arrived at a metal pasture gate. Stewart opened it and Gary drove the car through and we continued off roading. This land was covered in fluffy sheep and felt as whimsical and near to the past as any.

It was hot and the ground was incredibly dry but this did not deter us. We were there to discover lost stories of times forgotten. The first coin I found here was a ship halfpenny from 1950, the second was a Roman coin! I was speechless as I carefully removed this 2000 year old Roman coin from the ground. I had hoped to touch upon this ancient time period while visiting with Gary but never had I assumed such dreams would come true. It is near impossible to describe the transcendent moment when one reaches into the past, draws it into the present, merging two times. The last person to have held this Roman coin passed away approximately 2000 years before my birth and here I stood exactly where they had once stood and holding what they had held for the world to again remember.

As the afternoon grew long, a few other Roman coins were found. We were all three tickled by our luck and as the sun began to set a flock of sheep snuck up upon us as if they wished to share in the wonder we had discovered!

This trip was amazing. Thank you to everyone who made it a joy! I cannot wait to see you all again.

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Aug 03, 2023

Fantastic, so happy for you!


Aug 03, 2023

Yes Nikoline that video of you and Gary was AWESOME! Thank you for sharing it!

I hope you will put Florida's Treasure Coast on your travel list soon! The Fall is a great time to hit the beaches as the tropical and NE storms start stirring things up, but we have inland treasure hoards here too waiting to be discovered!😎🏝⛵

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