The rise of the balloon fight! By Jon Tetreault.

 

  A few months back, I was out hunting a early colonial village that had been abandoned in the woods of central Massachusetts. The site has been a popular location for metal detectorists over the years. Targets are few and far between. I had to get smart and started moving brush and logs out of the way stepping down on barberry bushes to get my coil over the ground. I decided to take a walk into the woods to see if I could locate another cellar that may have been missed by others detectorists over the years. 

  To my surprise, I came across a very small shallow cellar depression in the ground. I started swinging the DEUS with my 11″ coil over the ground on the outer lip. Running the Hot Program I was getting a lot of low iron signals and some high 98-99 iron signals as well. I usually go by sound mostly so decided to notch out 98-99. After a few minutes I got a faint high tone in between some iron. I dug down and popped the plug out. When I began to pinpoint the hole I pulled out 3 nails and some scrap metal but there was still something there! I swing my coil over to re confirm. Started pinpointing around the hole again and it was driving me crazy because i couldn’t find the target! 

  Finally after all the nails and junk I narrowed it down to a small pile of dirt. To my surprise I pulled out a complete cuff-link!. Is I cleaned it off I began to see a fancy design that looked like what appeared to be a pineapple. Thinking no more of it I placed it in my pouch and moved on.
Returning home to clean up my finds I realized that the cuff-link design was not a pineapple but in fact a hot air balloon! As I normally do I posted my finds to one of the Facebook groups that I am a part of.

 

  One helpful member was able to shed some light on my hot air balloon cuff-link. Turns out that this cuff-link was made to commemorate the first hot air balloon flight in 1783 (On October 15, 1783, Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis d’Arlandes were the first human passengers on a Montgolfier balloon. The balloon was in free flight, meaning it was not tethered. On January 19, 1784, a huge Montgolfier hot air balloon carried seven passengers to a height of 3,000 feet over the city of Lyons.)”

  The public was fascinated by balloon flight, and a craze for all things balloon was firmly established. The rage inspired clothing, jewelry, and just about every conceivable form of adornment for home or person. It illustrates just how momentous the development of flight really was and how the ability to fly has changed our world. That is my story of the finding of the 1780s commemorative cuff-link and my research into understanding the “Balloonania” craze that inspired the design!

~ Jon Tetreault

Michigan Cavalry Camp By Don Westbrook

 

 

  I have dedicated allot of time to researching Civil War period maps. The best maps you can obtain are those that have been hand drawn by the soldiers or officers that served in the Civil War. Every so often you get lucky and come across the maps by doing an online search and digging deep into the results. Although my favorite and arguably the best way to come across these hand drawn treasure maps is to discover them hidden in a soldier’s journal. Once I acquire a map I upload it to google earth and began the overlay process. Utilizing main roads and nearby water sources as reference points, by doing so I am able to triangulate an area of interest to begin my search. This is where I typically start when locating new spots.

  Once I had permission to search the area I set out with the XP Deus in hand. I adjusted my settings to my general search mode. I like to start out with my general search mode and make adjustments as I gain a better understanding of the current ground conditions. As I worked my way up the side of a gentle hill within the first five minutes I heard a very faint but clean repeatable signal. Roughly ten inches below the surface was a dropped Spencer Carbine bullet. Instantly I was amped and knew that I was on the correct path to the camp I had been searching for. Dropped Civil War bullets are an excellent sign, along with melted bullets or (camp lead) as we relic hunters like to call it. These items are typically your first find when searching for a camp.

 

  Continuing my search along the hillside I came to a nice level area that was easily accessible from the nearby period road bed. That’s when it happened, the awesome sound of iron in the ground. Listening for iron pockets is one trick that relics hunters will use, concentrated areas of iron signify previous civilization. Understanding the ground conditions have changed from relatively clean to heavily iron infested. Making adjustments to my settings was crucial to squeezing the most performance out of the XP Deus. I dropped my TX power down to 2, Reactivity was raised to 4, and Sensitivity adjusted to 85, I confirmed that my ground balance was accurate. This camp was loaded with Spencer, Merrill, and Smith carbine bullets. I even recovered a pistol bullet that still had a piece of the paper cartridge attached to it! Along with a few other goodies that I recovered at a later date, but that’s being saved for another story. There were so many targets in the ground, this lead me to believe the camp had not been discovered by past relic hunters. Thanks to the versatility of the XP Deus I was able to capitalize on the changing ground conditions and the results were truly impressive.

Westbrook’s XP Deus General Search Settings

Disc: 5.0

3 Tones, breakpoint 30

Tone 1: 100hz, Tone 2: 100hz, Tone 3: 775hz

Sensitivity: 90

TX Power: 3

Frequency: 7.8khz

Iron Vol: 3

Reactivity: 2.5

Silencer: -1

Audio Response: 4

Overload: 1

Notch: 00-00

Ground Balance: manual

 

 

Horsin’ Around for Colonial Relics By Grant Hansen

   I’m blessed to share so many of my metal detecting experiences with the person I consider to be my best friend. We both caught the detecting fever and decided to pursue the hobby at the same exact time – unbeknownst to each other. While that will make a great story for another day, I’ll now tell you about one of our most recent adventures.

   James, my aforementioned best friend, told me he had gained permission at a horse farm. It was a few acres of pasture that dated back to at least the 18th century. While we didn’t know much of its history beyond its age and the fact that it was in an old area of New Jersey, “18th century” is enough for us to get excited. We both planned a vacation day and anxiously waited for it to arrive so that we could see what this farm might be holding.

   It just so happened New Jersey and the rest of the east coast was experiencing torrential rain for what seemed like weeks. Since we are all-weather detectorists, we prepared for the worst and made sure we had all our rain gear. The property owner warned us that most of the property was flooded, but that the perimeters were accessible. We were game.

   The day of, it only rained for periods, and not too heavily. But the ground was saturated. We quickly realized that we weren’t mucking around and sliding around in just mud – this was a horse farm after all. We did our best to stick to the high spots, knowing that about 80% of the property would have to wait for another day. Conditions were tolerable since the XP Deus is so light; therefore, caked-on mud (and other stuff) didn’t really weigh me down.

Grant covered in mud and, well, it was a horse farm.

   Finds came slowly. The first area we focused on didn’t yield much more than modern garbage, until I found an Indian Head penny, and shortly after a gold-plated hair clip. Since it was mostly quiet we worked our way to another field. There we started to find flat buttons, so we started to get excited. The problem was we just couldn’t access most areas… it was so muddy and manure ridden that we’d risk losing our boots.

King George II half penny with 5 Indian Head pennies.

Vintage gold-plated hair clip.

 

   We stuck it out, finding a few more buttons. Toward the end of the day I got a great high signal on my Deus and dug optimistically. It was deep! When I finally retrieved the target, I was delighted to see a round copper disc. “Colonial!” I shouted. James came running over to share in my excitement. It wouldn’t be until later that I would ID it as a King George II half penny. Shortly after that, James found his colonial coin snagging a beautiful 1772 half real. Our two good finds got us very excited and we couldn’t wait to plan a return trip on a dryer day.

Buttons from day one.

   That dryer day came about two weeks later. Some parts of the field were still muddy, but most had opened up to us. We started on the field where James found his half real and quickly found more flat and ball buttons, Indian Head pennies and horse tack (mostly modern). The horses were very curious and friendly, following us around as we detected. At times, it was a little intimidating. One horse actually grabbed my Deus as if he wanted to find treasure of his own. Luckily I wrestled it back with little effort.

   Not too long into the day’s hunt, I got a solid high tone. I dug it up to find a thick, quarter sized, copper looking coin. I couldn’t tell what it was. James suggested it was a 2-cent coin, but I dismissed the idea thinking the tone would have sounded lower. But he was right – after cleaning I saw that it was a semi-key date 1870 2-cent coin.

1870 2-cent coin.

   Because it’s often difficult to properly ID something in the field, I never throw anything out unless it’s obvious garbage. I found what I thought was a beat up, mangled piece of odd-shaped metal. I couldn’t remove any of the hard-packed dirt from it, so I threw it in my tumbler with the clad I found. (Note to reader: I don’t suggest you put unknown finds into your tumbler as you’ll risk ruining something valuable.) In this case, the tumbler worked great and I was shocked to see that I had found a thimble. I got lucky with that one!

Thimble revealed by the tumbler.

   We wandered onto the adjacent field and started exploring. After about an hour, James found a colonial copper. I then found two flat buttons in the same area. It seemed like a little hot spot so I gridded it carefully. I then got a banging high tone, and once again, dug optimistically. My eyes lit up when I saw a large copper coin – a large American copper coin! I called James over and pointed to what I knew was a large cent. For some reason, I haven’t found many large cents. In fact, I have found more half reals, so this made me very happy. It turned out to be the oldest large cent I’ve found so far – 1816.

1816 Coronet Head large cent.

   By day’s end we were exhausted. It was a long, hot day of digging and swinging, starting in the early morning. We both had great finds, and that is a key ingredient of a good day. You want to share not only your own good fortune, but in the good fortune of your buds. We both share the struggle, the excitement, the effort, the passion … so we should both be rewarded equally. It’s magic when that happens!

Group photo from day two.

Hunting Lee’s Retreat with the XP Deus By Don Westbrook

   Ask any Civil War relic hunter to name their top two states to recover relics in, and I promise you Virginia will be one of those top two. A while back I had the opportunity to meetup with a Virginia local that claimed he lived right off of General Lee’s retreat route. This route stretches from Petersburg to the Appomattox Court House, which is where Lee surrendered to Grant on April, 9th 1865. He also told me that he was interested in learning how to metal detect. Before heading over to the Virginia I called him up to give him some history on the area. I hopped on google earth and located his house to see exactly where he was located. He truly lived right on one of the main retreat routes! I dug around and managed to locate some old period maps to overlay on google earth. After I finished playing around with my map overlays and doing my research I dropped pins on every piece of property that I believed would hold relics. I told him since he was the local it would be much easier for him to get the permission. I don’t know how many of you have tried gaining permission in Virginia, but let me tell you it isn’t easy, especially when you’re from out of state.

    Luckily he was able to secure permission to nearly every site I had flagged on google earth. I arrived at my hotel late Friday night and decided to drive by his house and do some scouting from the truck. Instantly I noticed sections of the old period road beds paralleling the current road. I also noticed the Civil War trails signs everywhere, this was truly exciting! The next morning we linked up and discussed a battle plan. The plan was to leap frog along the retreat route hitting as much property in the limited amount of time we had. I explained to him that we needed to walk a pattern over each field. It would limit the time on a piece of property that isn’t producing. The first location was a nice gentle rolling hill that was located close to a water source. With the XP in hand I did a quick ground balance and checked my general search settings I use. I always start out with my general search program and make adjustments that best suit the location I’m detecting. We recovered a couple bullets here and there. The only problem was that there wasn’t a very high concentration of relics. So I walked over to him and said that we can come back to this site but we need to go to the next spot. We were on a time hack, lunch time was rapidly approaching, and I had a good feeling there was something better out there.

    We jumped into the truck and headed to the next location, which was only a couple minutes down the road. This was a perfect location for soldiers to rest and water their horses. Again we walked our pattern and pulled a few relics out. More bullets and a couple J-hooks that fell off of soldiers ruck sacks, along with a thin gold ring. After we finished our pattern over the field I mentioned that we should keep moving. The fact that we were finding relics was good, but we were not locating pockets of relics that signal a camp. The relics we were recovering were to spread out, suggesting they were dropped during travel. Due to the amount of troop movement that was on this route back in 1865 we should be locating condensed pockets of relics. Not to mention this is Virginia, where relic dreams come true, haha! Once again we were on the move to another location marked on the map. This specific location looked to be the best yet. It was the perfect location for troops to rest. It was a natural bottle neck due to the fact they had to cross a small bridge. With the XP in hand, we began the search. He decided to check the high hill and I went low. Knowing how many miles these troops had to cover. I had a hunch that the last thing those troops wanted to do was climb a big hill just to sit down for a short rest. After roughly ten minutes I began to recover more bullets. But there was something different about this site. All of the relics were in a small area roughly the size of a football field. This is exactly what I was looking for! The site was located right off of the period road bed, there was a water source nearby and the terrain was friendly.

     The dirt was a nice damp sandy soil mixture, really easy to dig in. There wasn’t much trash and nearly every hole dug produced what we were looking for. The damp conditions helped magnify the target responses. Most of the relics were roughly 11-13” deep in the ground and they were plentiful. My 9” coil was picking up the deep bullets fairly well. Obviously when you are digging small targets down to and past a foot in the ground, your target signals weaken. Having years of experience with this machine I knew what to listen for. Most people assume that the small 9” coil doesn’t have depth but under the right conditions it will detect deep. Knowing that the targets were deep I dropped my reactivity down from 3 to 2, frequency down to 4khz, TX Power 3, and ramped up the sensitivity to the max. Bullet after bullet and j-hook after j-hook came out of the ground. We also found percussion caps, pistol balls and grommets. We were digging fast since we were running out of daylight. After a couple hours passed it was time for a much deserved break. My friend asked to see how many relics I had recovered so far, so I dumped my pouch out on the tailgate of the truck. So far I had recovered over fifty bullets, a small army of j-hooks with some other odds and ends. I asked to see how many he had recovered; he replied with not that many. Mind you he wasn’t swinging an XP that day, and he was new to the hobby. That being said he still recovered a very respectable amount of relics for being new to the hobby.

    After a short water break we were back at it. By now the sun was starting to set and there were still allot of targets left to be uncovered. Minie balls and Williams cleaner bullets were coming out of the ground like prairie dogs at Yellowstone. For those of you that don’t hunt for civil war relics… A Minie ball is a type of muzzle loading bullet that has 3 distinctive rings and a conical base. These are commonly found in a .58 caliber. A Williams cleaner bullet is also is a .58 caliber. It was designed to be fired through the barrel to clean it. It removes excess black powder build up and lead residue in the barrel. This day had proved to be the best Civil War bullet day I have ever had! Once it was all said and done I managed to recover over 70 bullets, 13 j-hooks, 7 buttons, a gold ring, and a mixture of percussion caps and hardware. After I returned home my new friend contacted me a few days later and said after witnessing what the XP can do, he was going to purchase one as soon as possible. I told him, “I was going to come back and setup my tent in his back yard, lol.” Ever since then he has been relic hunting with his new XP Deus, utilizing the knowledge I shared with him. He has proven to be a very good relic hunter. I am glad I was able to help him along the way. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… Dreams come true when you’re relic hunting in Virginia. Especially when you’re armed with the XP Deus!

 

 

Working the iron patch with the XP Deus By Don Westbrook

 

 

  I decided it was time to go on another Virginia relic hunting adventure. Whenever I travel out of state to metal detect I always try to link up with friends on location. On this Saturday morning I linked up with my buddy Jeff, near Quantico, VA. He mentioned that he was aware of a nice piece of high ground overlooking a nearby water source. On this high ground he was able to recover multiple relics over the years, but lately nothing has come out of the ground. Apparently the site was littered with iron and has been detected very hard over the years. It was deemed “hammered out.” Hammered out being a common relic hunter’s term when a site has been completely blanketed and all metal targets have been removed. I asked him If he had searched this site with an XP Deus, his answer was no. Knowing this I was very excited to get up there and start searching with my XP. Shortly after the machine was balanced and the hunt began I noticed how highly mineralized the soil was, thanks to the mineralization meter on the Deus remote. I also noticed how much iron was in the ground, an insane amount of iron. There was so much iron that you couldn’t take one step without hearing it through the headphones. So I dialed back my sensitivity and ramped up my reactivity to start working that heavy iron patch.  

  The first few targets were a mixture of shotgun shells and small bits of camp lead. Even though I was recovering items I was not after, this was still a good sign. The fact that targets were coming out of the ground when the site was supposed to be hammered was exciting. The XP was hearing targets in the ground that other machines have missed in the past. Then I started pulling out a musket ball here and there. This was a great sign; it confirmed that my settings adjustments were working well. After about 45 minutes of searching, it happened! Down roughly 8” under the surface and completely surrounded with iron was a nice little flat button. I could spot the shank of the button protruding out at the bottom of the hole. Along with the button were a mixture of small iron particles and multiple square nails. The XP Deus was able to pick out that 8” deep flat button buried amongst all of that iron! Once I removed the button from the earth and gave it a gentle brush, I noticed a cannon. I had recovered an early 1800’s “Roughly 1815”one piece Federal Artillery coat button! The only reason why I was able to recover this awesome button was due to the fact that I was able to adjust the machines processor speed by bumping up the reactivity. Where other machines struggle in the heavy iron patches, the XP Deus excels.

News from Team XP Romania

Here is a short article we would like to share with our XP brothers over in the USA
It was just another weekend in the mountains, like many others before. We decided to go for a ”light hike”, in other terms…Detecting with our XP Deus!

In our metal detecting group we very often refer to a term known as “The10cm rule”, meaning that sometimes you only need to be 10cm outside your path to find something incredible and change the outcome of a quiet day; and so it was to be on that Sunday morning.

The area has a rich WW1 background, being the theatre for very heavy clashes between Romanian and Austro-Hungarian Armies.

There, we’ve found an infantry bugle, most probably Romanian (being very similar to the Austro-Hungarian one). This was not the first we found, but it always gives a warm feeling when finding one, and thinking that the last time it sang in the middle of a battle. After reaching the mountain top, we found ourselves in a large plateau, directly exposed to the sun. It was a place we had previously scanned, so we decided to search just outside of the perimeter, we put our Deus’s on the Fast program, combined with a fast walk, our plan was to quickly locate some new hot spots.


At some point, one of our members found a small medicine metallic canister, German made and pierced by a very tiny splinter.
Not far from it, we recovered 2 Prussian decorative crests for the Pickelhaube helmet , both damaged and left behind. We concluded that spot must have been a garbage pit, filled with damaged and un useful equipment.


From the same 10x10m area, a German belt buckle came out, an unmarked wine bottle, and the remains of a third pickelhaube helmet. Once again, the Fast program was very helpful in order to skip the iron and locate the good stuff around it. We used a moderate discrimination, also considering that during militaria prospecting, most of the time your targets wouldn’t be very small, you’ll ”hear” them anyway, so the discrimination would more likely clear the in between iron noise, generated by smaller iron parts.

Very near me, a friend caught a very high and stable signal; I could hear it through his Ws4 headphones, it was a silver pocket watch, lying for 100 years near the edge of the road, where a line of defensive trenches were originally located. We managed to open it, everything was in good shape, marks and mechanisms were still visible.

Once again, for us it was essential to have light and fast equipment; we’re talking about an average session we would carry up to 4l of water for your own need, and sometimes. Even that’s not enough, because the effort is considerable, especially when the digging at high altitudes and in open spaces, directly under the sun.

Some of the discoveries were donated to the local museum of history, in order to be included in a future exhibition dedicated to the WW1 Centenar.

As always, the Deus did the job! Thanks XP! Nihil Sine DEUS!

Romanian Military Archaeology & Pro Detectie Association

My Mini Field of Dreams By Grant Hansen

  I was never a huge fan of metal detecting on fields. I like home sites where there’s a lot of noise, a lot of digging, and the comfort of knowing I scoured every inch of the property to leave nothing behind. Fields, by contrast, are vast; sometimes overwhelming, especially if you don’t have the opportunity to keep going back to try new areas. Fields can also be quiet, unlike home sites which often produce a good signal every twelve to twenty-four inches. Home sites can mean back-breaking work from all the shoveling, but I absolutely love it.                                                                         

  The other reason I preferred home sites was because I hadn’t been on a field that produced a lot of good finds. Of course, I hadn’t put in the historic research that has resulted in others having “fields of dreams” chock full of old coins and relics, but I thought, “Geez, I’ve detected enough fields that I should at some point get on one that produces more than one or two good finds!”

  Flashback to about two years ago. Two friends of mine and I were detecting on an 18th-century church property that the owners were converting into what would be their new home. While on paper it had a lot of promise, we found nothing but modern junk. Adding to our disappointment was their neighbor telling us that over the years he had seen numerous people detecting the once abandoned property.

  Luckily for us, the property owners got us permission to detect a very small field that was owned by a friend. By small, I mean one acre, tops. We knew nothing of the property, its history, or what to expect – but anything is worth investigating. So, we packed up our gear and drove a few blocks to our new spot.

  Right off the bat I found a flat button, as did my friend. This was a great sign! We each wandered off in different directions, finding more 18th– and 19th-century relics. I got a beautiful high tone on my XP Deus and started to dig. After not much effort I saw a nice round copper coin. Yes! I was on the board with a King George II half penny. I focused on a small area and my Deus was singing to me. I found another King George II half penny that someone had flattened the edges to form a octagon. Perhaps it was meant to be a toy; not far from it I found a hand-made lead whizzer.

Dandy button.

King George II half penny.

King George II half penny, shaped into an octagon.

 

Whizzer toy.

 

  My next find was something that had me buzzing with happiness for a long time. We all have our metal detecting bucket lists. My list is pretty long, and I’m not sure a bucket would fit everything I want to someday dig up. And on our bucket lists, many of us have a rank order. A top ten, or top five, etc. Number one on my list wasn’t the most valuable, the rarest, or the most sought after by others.

  My XP Deus was screaming at me to dig a solid high tone, and of course, I listened. Out of the hole came another colonial-era copper coin. But as I gently cleaned it and revealed the tell-tale shield on the reverse, I celebrated with a little dance. A New Jersey copper! I did it! I found the number-one item on my bucket list.

New Jersey copper.

  A New Jersey copper had eluded me for a long time. Friends have dug them and I have seen others online showcasing their awesome early US coinage. But for me, I found so many other types of copper coins in circulation at the time except the one I sought most.

  My friends, having found some great things of their own, decided to call it a day. I was about to do the same and had driven off, but something called me back to the field. I parked my car and started swinging. Immediately I found a beautiful 1742 half real. I was shocked, and so happy I came back!

1742 half real. I love the scalloped edge!

  As you can imagine, I couldn’t stop thinking about this field. As soon as we got the opportunity, we returned to see what else we could find. The little small field continued to produce! In addition to more flat buttons, a blow-hole button, and another King George II half penny, I found a copper coin that I couldn’t immediately identify. With the help of some Facebook groups, I was able to ID it as a 17th-century Scottish Bawbee half penny. This was my first (and to date only) 17th-century coin found on US soil. I also found a nice buckle from the same era.

Mid-18th-century German states Cologne ¼ Stüber.

  I hope to return to this field again soon. Although I’m confident we searched it well, I’m sure it’s holding more treasures. Although we could find nothing on the property’s history, we suspect there was a starter home or similar dwelling prior to more widespread settlement. It’s good to revisit sites after a while; you come with a new perspective and a new level of patience. This can often lead to good things. If I do return, I’ll let you know!

Group finds. (The Native American point and infantry button were found at nearby properties.)

 

The Junk Man Ohio Civil War Medal, Deus Dreaming.

Deus Dreaming Army of Angels 13K The Junk Man Tim Glick.

“My best find ever was found on a property that used to have an old school on it. It was a civil war medal of Ohio military veteran volunteers. My favorite part of this find was that it had a name on it, A name that could be traced to the civil war and puts a story to this find. The best kind of find you can have.”

Tim Glick AKA “The Junk Man” had found a great find about 4 years ago on a residence that used to house an old school from the 1800s. The thing that made this find so special was that it had a name John C. Mayfield of Ohio. After doing the research, Tim had found that Mr. Mayfield died in action in Marrietta Ga. on Aug 16, 1864. Tim had found that these medals were made by Tiffany & Company of New York and 20,000 were made and distributed in 1866. Mr. Mayfield had passed before receiving his medal and so the metal was distributed to Mr. Mayfield’s family. Tim Glick had tracked the grave of Mr. Mayfield and his father who also served in the civil war.

Tim had given the medal to the property owner but will never forget the forgotten history of just one of the hero’s that fought in the civil war.

 

Treasure Island By Grant Hansen

 

   Once a year, I trek across the pond to Treasure Island (or as most people call it, England). It’s a long journey comprised of a red-eye flight, a long bus or cab ride, and then miles of walking up and down ancient fields hoping to find medieval, Roman or Saxon artifacts. So far in my detecting career, I’ve found two of the three on the aforementioned list. Will I find something Saxon this year to complete my wish list? Time will tell.

Grant detecting among hundreds of acres of ancient land.

Traveling with the XP Deus is easy. Because it’s so compact and light I have room to cram in other, heavy necessities like a variety of clothing, digging tools and camera equipment. I can easily pack both my stock 11-inch coil and my HF 9-inch coil, without having to worry about weight or space. Because the HF coil offers a different range of frequencies than the stock coil, it’s like I’m able to pack two metal detectors – without having to pack two metal detectors.

In 2016, two friends and I traveled to William Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon. Southern Seekers had organized a weekend rally along Fosse Way – an historic Roman road that runs north and south across England. Rather than camp out at the rally, we stayed at a nearby bed and breakfast, originally built in the 16th century. On the B&B’s property was the foundation of a Norman-era castle! What was even more unbelievable was that the owners gave us permission to detect the property the day before the rally. While the area surrounding the castle foundation was off limits, we still had plenty of lawn to keep us busy. I didn’t find anything of note, but my friend James found a lovely 16th-century dolphin-motif French jetton. So, as you can imagine, we were really excited for the weekend.

It can be rather daunting when you have hundreds of acres to detect over a short timeframe. Where do you start? Where’s the best spot? Finding your way can be a little frantic until the other detectorists slowly disperses out of sight, and the fields have plenty of swinging room. On the first field I detected I was quick to find some buttons and lead, but nothing extraordinary.

The dirt was hard-packed clay – once you got down a few inches it was thick and heavy, making deep targets challenging to retrieve. After putting in a few good efforts and coming up with just small lead fragments, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated. I swung my coil for a while without a solid signal, and then my Deus gave me a high-pitched, deep, repeatable target. I wasn’t sure if it would be something good or just more garbage, and there was only one way to find out. I began to dig, and dig, and dig. The clay was getting more and more difficult the deeper I got, and I was close to giving up. I told myself, “One more spade’s worth and if it’s not there, then I’m filling the hole back in.” After I dug out some more clay, my pin pointer sounded off in the side wall, but then went silent as I went deeper. This was great! I knew I didn’t have to keep digging deeper, and that the target was close in hand.

I carefully dug into the side wall and removed a chunk of clay. Finally! I got it out of the ground. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it revealed itself. Could it be? A hammered coin! And it was bigger than the hammered pennies I usually see. It was a 15th-century King Henry VII silver hammered groat! I was thrilled! I had just found a large, hammered, 500-plus year old silver coin! I honestly believe that many detectors would have missed the signal, or at least, many detectorists would have ignored it because it was so deep.

King Henry VII silver hammered groat from the 15th century.

The fields continued to produce. I found three Roman coins, which I’m told are from the second- to third-century AD. Two small ones are very corroded; the large one (pictured below) gave a screaming high tone, even though it was very deep. I was half expecting a large piece of metallic garbage since it sounded too good to be true – but it wasn’t!

Large Roman coin.

I also found a beautiful medieval strap end that still has some its golden gilt. I’m told this strap end was most likely used as a book fastener, and would have been owned by someone of wealth and education. Imagine, over 500 years ago someone lost this – perhaps even the entire book which has since deteriorated completely.

 

Medieval strap end.

In 2017 I found myself in a different area of England with the Medway History Finders in Kent. I met up with a couple old friends, and made some very good new ones – which is the real treasure of our hobby. I love sharing stories of my US finds, and hearing their amazing tales of treasure hunting in England.

The Medway rally produced some great finds for me. I found two 17th-century King Charles I silver hammered pennies, two medieval lead tokens, a very heavy grape shot, and a medieval spindle whorl (among many other cool finds). And I even witnessed two friends each find their own Bronze Age hoards!

 

 

 

King Charles I silver hammered penny.

 

 

King Charles I silver hammered penny.

Medieval lead token.

Medieval lead token with “FH” initials.

Lead spindle whorl.

Huge grapeshot, pictured next to a musket ball for scale.

 

 

 

September 2018 will have me traveling to the UK History Hunters weekender in South Devon. It’s an area steeped in history, and I can’t wait to swing my coil over the ancient dirt. I’m looking forward to some good luck, meeting up with old friends, and meeting new ones. Watch for me to broadcast some live digs and updates from the field!

 

My First Best Find with the XP Deus By Grant Hansen

 

  One of the most common questions any detectorist gets, whether from a fellow treasure hunter or a friend who shows interest in our hobby, is, “What’s your best find?” I always have a difficult time answering this question. Yes, I’ve found some great things that on their own can battle it out for the top spot, but for me, the journey behind the find is equally important.

When I first got the XP Deus a few years ago, I was determined to reach a level of expertise that would allow me to understand how to best maximize what it offered. I don’t dare say I aimed to master it because no matter how good you get at anything, there’s always opportunities to learn new things. During my “break in” period, I experimented quite a bit. I consumed as much knowledge as I could from Gary Blackwell’s XP Deus School videos, Andy Sabich’s book, articles, forums, conversations with experienced Deus users, and executed good ol’ trial and error.

I liken the XP Deus to a Digital SLR camera. Sure, you can put it on auto mode and capture great pictures. But if you want to be an advanced photographer, you learn how to adjust your settings like aperture, F-stop, shutter speed, etc., so that you’ll capture the best photo given the lighting conditions and speed of the subject.

All the hard work allowed me to create a custom program that suited me – and I use it as my base program whether on junk-ridden old home sites or quiet open fields. I find I get great depth, great responsiveness and minimal chatter. Here are my settings. Keep in mind that this is what I start out with; I adjust depending on ground conditions.

 

 

 

   I put this program to the test on a colonial-era church property in my hometown. Built in 1793, this property had me frustrated since I hadn’t found anything older than early 20th century. I decided to give my new program a go and slowly gridded a 50ft x 20ft area that I’ve gone over at least 3 times already. About 20 minutes in, I got a faint, but solid, repeatable target. After peeling back the plug, my pin pointer picked up a signal at the bottom, which was about 7 inches down. After digging a little more and scooping out the dirt, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Silver! And not just any silver – Spanish silver! I had found my first half real, dated 1775. I immediately called my friend to share my elation.

 

 

  While this may not be my absolute BEST find, it was my FIRST best find with the XP Deus. It was made extra gratifying because of my persistence to build a relationship with my detector. Because, ultimately, that’s what it is – a relationship. We have a conversation with a machine that tells us what it detects. It’s our job to listen, and to understand, and to help it communicate in the best possible way depending on environmental conditions. It’s symbiotic.

Since that first best find, I’ve found more best finds that I will share with you in future blog posts – and hopefully new best finds in the coming months and years. I’d love to hear about your best finds, so please share them with us!