Friday, July 24, 2015

Cameras & Accessories for Photographing Treasure Auras

 
Recommended camera: Canon EOS350D (Digital Rebel XT) camera. The camera usually comes with the Canon 18-55 kit lens, but you can buy the camera body only (or one with an alternative lens) and perhaps buy the kit lens separately. BUT be careful as there are newer lenses with a different specification that may not work as well as the original basic lens. Avoid lenses designated II or IS (image stabilisation) or STM If you buy a camera body only, or a different lens, here is a link for the kit lens (it may be attached to a camera though):
 
You will also need battery, charger, and compact flash card. Often these will come with the camera but if not you will need to buy them separately. Here is a link to batteries and chargers:
 
And here is a link to Compact Flash cards:
 
Downloading Images from Canon EOS/Rebel/Kiss Cameras to Computer. Although many digital cameras can be plugged into your PC and will act as a removable drive, Canon does not. The Canon camera was originally supplied with a software disk. The EOS 350 disk was Canon DIGITAL EOS Solution Disk v 10.0 containing software compatible with Windows 98SE through XP and Mac OS X. The disk contains several programs but the downloading one is EOS Utility, which also controls the camera remotely. If ‘download all images’ is selected in Windows, the images are down loaded by default to a new folder in ‘My Pictures’ identified by the date of the images. If you have the disk it should install on your computer. If you have a newer operating system you will need to visit your local Canon website and download updater software. This is the Canon UK website: http://www.canon.co.uk/support/consumer_products/products/cameras/digital_slr/eos_350d.aspx From there you will need to select your camera model, select downloads, select software, select operating system (Windows Vista seems to be the newest), select language and click search. Look for EOS Utility Updater for Windows (or Mac) click on the link, accept the licence agreement, download and install. You will need a USB Data Sync Cable to transfer the images to your computer.
 
If you do not have the software disk, or do not want to install it, a quick fix is to use a card reader that accepts Compact Flash (CF) cards. I have one as part of my all-in-one scanner/printer. You remove the card from the camera and insert it in the reader, which basically acts as another drive and allows you to (at least) transfer the images to your computer. BUT you need to be very careful with these CF cards as they are symmetrical apart from the pin sockets. If you insert the card in your camera the wrong way round you will bend the pins in the camera and not be able to use the camera. That means either buying a new camera body or getting your camera repaired at a cost of £80/$120. I have seen plenty of cameras for sale with damaged pins -YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
 
You will also need an infrared filter holder and adapter ring (58mm for the lenses mentioned). Genuine new Cokin P007 filters are round and need to have the edges of the plastic frame trimmed slightly to fit the holder (easily done with household scissors or craft knife). There are some substitute square filters around which I haven’t tried.
 
Here is a link for the three slot square filter holder and 58mm adapter ring. I use the plastic ones.
 
That is all the kit you will need to get started. Some optional extras. You will need photoediting software to enhance and reduce the redness in the image to let the aura show through. Most , if not all, photo editors can be used successfully, however the one I use is Arcsoft PhotoStudio 5.5 (and no other version) It is a bit old now but I have it working OK on Windows 7 and earlier Windows Operating systems. Here’s a link:
 
You don’t need the Sigma 105mm EF DG Macro lens (as fitted to my camera in the picture above) to get started but if you want the option of shooting over longer distances and smaller targets here is a link: Avoid newer OS HSM lenses, fittings for cameras other than canon and other focal lengths.
 
Good luck finding those treasures.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Orbs of Light


 In comparison the same target was photographed above with the Sigma 105mm macro lens, which tends not to produce orbs, possibly because of the greater length of the lens.

 Both photographs were taken during the investigation of a suspected treasure site. Unfortunately the landowners will only allow excavation by archaeologists. To go ahead in this manner would result in the finds effectively being confiscated and no reward payable.

There are other reasons for the formation of orbs other than buried metal and several books have been written about orbs claiming them to be manifestations from the spirit world. Two I have are The Orb Project and Orbs Their Mission and Messages of Hope, both co-authored by Klaus Heinemann, who is a doctor of physics. And here is a link to a website: http://paranormalresearchforum.net/2011/04/26/orbs/ There are many photos of orbs in the books, a few of which I can explain without reference to the spirit world. Apart from buried metal, there are a number of common generators of infrared, which can result in orbs such as light sources (sky), metal structures, animals and people. When taking photographs of potential treasure targets we should always avoid including any of these in the camera frame.

Here is an example. I took these evening pictures of the cable car across the river Thames in London , England , built for the 2012 Olympics and called Emirates Airline. I was using the Canon camera with standard lens but no filter or flash. I didn’t realize at the time that I had the tops of some street lamps in the frame. Now Klaus Heinemann would probably claim the orbs in the pictures are spirits joining in the fun of the cable car ride but I am convinced they are caused mainly by those street lamps and possibly some of the other lights in the picture.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

To the Manor Drawn (part 2)

THERE was to be a five month wait until the trees were stripped of apples by the pickers, which gave me plenty of time to reflect on the previous search of the manor house site. After a battle with silver paper, a battle with the trees and about one hundred hours detecting I had wrestled out of the ground about twenty worthwhile finds. Pleased as I was with four hammered silver coins, three Roman bronzes and some nice artefacts, one find for every five hours of searching didn't seem to be an awful lot to me. Was there a way of speeding things up, I wondered?

It was during this time that I read of a detectorist making a number of good finds by employing a map dowser to identify the find spots prior to searching. Now this was food for thought! If I could know for sure where the good finds were before I even switched on my machine, my finds rate ought to go sky high!

The first problem was where to find a map dowser, for the dowser I had read about had very inconveniently passed away. The solution soon came from an advertisement in The Searcher: "I will dowse your maps for you ...Ring J. Longton".

Nothing ventured, nothing gained; having no idea what to expect, I rang Mr. Longton. Jimmy turned out to be a very friendly, likeable soul who had retired from the wrestling ring and developed a passion for dowsing. His major claim to fame in metal detecting circles was the locating of a hoard of Viking silver brooches which earned him a share of a £43,000 Treasure Trove award. What might he do for me, I wondered?

"What sort of area do you want dowsed?" Jimmy asked. Rather naively I replied: "Could you do the entire farm? - It's 300 acres." "I could dowse a map of the entire country but you would be lucky if you recovered anything, because I would only be able to pinpoint large objects to within a few square miles. If you want to find coins and the like, I'll need an A4 size map of a small area — a few acres at most." I made a photocopy of the plan of manor site and its immediate surrounds — about 30 acres in all and sent it off with the £10 fee requested.

A few days later the phone rang about 10 p.m. Trouble at work, I thought. Happily, it wasn't. It was Jimmy who very excitedly told me that he had just been dowsing my map and had been getting gold and silver signals all over the place. "That's some site you've got there!" he said. I bet he says that to everyone, I thought.

When the map arrived, I eagerly scanned it to see what jimmy had made of it. The first thing that struck me was that nearly all Jimmy's markers (over 80%) lay within the boundaries of the wood that had surrounded the manor house (a random distribution would have been 50%). The next thing I noticed was a row of ferrous markers which I knew immediately corresponded with a series of large iron stakes on the site. This was quite impressive especially as Jimmy lived 300 miles away and I had been very careful to reveal as little as possible about the site!

I noticed also that quite a few non-ferrous crosses were on the part of the site that I thought I had searched thoroughly. This reminded me of a conversation we had, where Jimmy had said that owing to various "technical" difficulties such as dowsing going deeper than metal detectors, I could have problems in finding the targets that he had marked. You really should learn to dowse, he told me. I had little faith in my ability to dowse traditionally even though Jimmy had sent me instructions on how to make and use dowsing rods. Years ago I had taken an interest, bought a pair of L-rods, found they didn't work and discarded them!

Coincidentally there was, at this time, a flurry of advertising and dialogue concerning a machine from the States that could find gold and silver, find it fast and find it from a mile away. They called it a long range locator. Now this did sound much better than a pair of modified coat hangers! The major snag, apart from it being by no means clear as to whether these machines actually worked or not, was its hefty price tag. I sent for the literature and convinced myself that, as litigation was America ’s national sport, the manufacturer would have been sued out of existence if their claims weren’t at least substantially true. What’s more, all my detection equipment to date had paid for itself so my hobby owed me nothing. I bought an Electroscope Model 20.

If you haven’t seen an Electroscope, it consists of a more or less rectangular box (similar to a detector control box) with three adjustable antennae protruding from one end. Underneath, the box is joined to a pistol grip handle via a gimbal which allows the box to pivot in the horizontal plane. The general idea is that you keep the 'Scope balanced, wave it from side to side to determine if there is anything worth finding out in front of you and when the machine indicates that there is something, the antennae lock on to the target and you follow in for the kill with your metal detector. Simple!

Reality was somewhat different. The machine was easy enough to handle but most perplexing in what it seemed to be locating. The first field test yielded a broken bicycle spanner. The second had two of us digging a hole three feet deep only to uncover the farmer's water supply flowing through an iron pipe! Further tests produced bits and pieces of mainly non-ferrous scrap but none of this gold and silver the 'Scope was supposed to find. Yet metal objects were turning up which at least showed the machine was doing more than just keeping me amused until the autumn.

I arrived back at the manor site, just as the last box of apples was leaving, clutching the dowsed map, a 30 metre surveyor's tape and my detector of course. The corners of the field were the obvious places to measure from and there were only three of them as the field was triangular. I ran out the tape to the centre of the first cross and started searching with my metal detector. There was no hint of a signal. I carried on searching, carefully working out from the cross until eventually about 20 metres away I received a good signal and dug up a dinner fork, 20th century silver plated. I don't know if that was the object that had caused Jimmy's pendulum to gyrate but it did contain a very small amount of silver and I didn't find anything else in the vicinity.

I moved inwards to the next cross. It quickly became apparent that the further into the orchard I went the more the trees got in the way and the more difficult it was was to translate the crosses on paper into a search area on the ground. I didn't find anything anywhere around this second cross. I searched around the nearest crosses to the other two corners of the field and drew a blank there too; perhaps not surprisingly as I had thoroughly searched that end of the site last season. Back to the drawing board!

The following weekend I took the Electroscope with me. I didn't find much other than four pence in old money but I did discover that the Electroscope could be used just like a dowsing rod — I could simply walk around with it and it would indicate the location of metal objects to the left or the right of me within a few square metres. All I then had to do was to search the defined area with my metal detector. Using the 'Scope like this it wasn't long before I was holding my first decent find of the season — a well-preserved large rumbler bell with a blacksmith's hammer in shield motif.

Having now developed a working method, I started searching at the opposite end of the orchard to where I had worked the previous season, systematically working along each row. Not far in, from a depth of eight inches a Roman dupondius surfaced. A lump of bronze I uncovered became recognisable as part of a medieval pot-leg when I later dug out a complete one from a depth of 12 inches. From out of another seemingly bottomless hole came one of the nicest small crotal bells I have seen. This one is pewter with a bleeding heart motif, in perfect condition and good working order.

Just before I reached the point where I had finished searching last season I found an 18th century silver cufflink stud engraved with an abstract flower design. In the very next row I unearthed a similar silver cufflink stud engraved with the letter "T".

I was now going over old ground, as they say, searching the area that I had "thoroughly" done previously. I was amazed at what I had missed, although it was mainly junk. Two good finds did turn up, however. The first was a penny of Edward IV, very unfortunately clipped as it was a scarce Bristol mint issue. This was the smallest hammered coin I had ever found for two weeks until a cut farthing of Henry III put paid to that particular record. With that, I had completed the search of the main site in half the time that it had taken me to search a third of it conventionally.

According to the dowser there were still four treasures waiting to be found outside the main site, one at the west end and three at the east. I tried the west first and almost immediately found an As of Vespasian in quite presentable condition. At 69-79 AD this was the oldest datable metal object I had ever found and that record stood for a very long time. Further searches in the West produced nothing of note so I turned to the east.

At the eastern end of the main site lay another former wood of four acres. I decided to systematically search the lot rather than just go for the three dowsed targets which were close together in almost a straight line. The first find of note was a small rumbler bell, damaged and minus its ball. The second was an old style petrol can top proudly displaying the legend: PRATTS. The third find was a penny of Edward I, in good order and on the same day this was followed by two signals that produced most of a Henry III long cross penny. The following weekend brought the four acre search to an end with one final find — a half groat of Henry VIII. When I plotted the find-spots onto the map, the position of the three hammered coins coincided almost exactly with Jimmy's crosses!

What I didn't know, of course, was how thorough my searching was or how reliable was Jimmy's dowsing. I therefore used the couple of months I had left of this season and part of the next, to conventionally detect some of the area again and to see if I could find anything to the north or south of the main site. In terms of finds it was a complete waste of time but it did convince me that I had recovered everything worthwhile from the site — a total of forty good finds (including nine hammered silver coins) covering 1900 years!

​From The Searcher March 1997

Sunday, February 22, 2015

To The Manor Drawn (The Searcher, Jan 1997)

I suppose it was the searching of my mother-in-law’s garden with a metal detector that gave me the first inkling of how interesting the sites of old houses can be. Not that “mother’s” house was anything special; just a town house in a London suburb, built soon after the Great War. In one afternoon I found 52 coins and a ring. Everything was made of base metal with nothing earlier than Victorian but it was the sheer quantity that intrigued me. “What if it had been the garden of a Medieval house?” I thought. “Would I have recovered 52 hammered silver coins and maybe a gold noble or two?”
I thought no more about it and carried on searching the one very small farm that I had permission on at that time. This farm continued to be productive for some while nothing extra special but enough to keep my interest: one Roman, two hammered silver coins, a bucketful of Georgian and Victorian finds. Eventually finds started dwindling which precipitated a visit to the library with a view to finding a new and worthwhile site.
It is strange how it often seems that you are being lead to a place and this, my first serious attempt at site research was remarkably easy. Many counties had a gentleman historian or two who sauntered around the countryside a couple of hundred years ago compiling a dossier on places and events, often comprising several large tomes. The county where I live is no exception, and it was to this work that I turned to start my research. Looking a step ahead, I figured it would be easier to get search permission if I found a site close to where I was already welcome and began reading the chapter relating to that Parish. I hadn’t read more than a couple of pages when the words leapt at me:
“The manor houfe flood, for there hath not been any remains of one left time out of mind, in the midft of a wood of the fame name.” The author went on to tell me that the site was a Roman camp before the manor was built and gave the location by way of a farm name.
Consulting modern maps I learned that the farm still existed, but not the wood. I eagerly scanned several older maps looking for a more precise indication of the manor site but it wasn’t until I tracked down the tithe map that anything convincing emerged. The cartographer had obviously felt the fifteen acre wood important enough to name it on the map.
Having narrowed the site down to a workable area and ascertained that it hadn’t been built on — it was now an orchard — all I had to do was obtain search permission! My friendly neighbourhood farmer gave me the landowner’s name and address and suggested I write or phone. I decided that writing was the least painful and potentially the most effective since I could communicate my request clearly, without embarrassment and hopefully would not inconvenience the recipient too much.
It worked! Within twenty-four hours of posting the letter, the landowner phoned me: “I don’t know whether you’ll find anything” he said, “My father bulldozed the site some years ago; but you’re welcome to try.” (Incidentally I always write first when seeking search permission and I am usually successful either right away or after a follow-up visit if I don’t get a reply. The important thing is to have a good reason for wanting to detect on the land.)
The weekend took forever to arrive but at last I was off with my detector anticipating all the gold nobles I was going to find. After the first session all I had discovered was that someone around the farm had a penchant for chocolate bars and fancy cakes. The next search also produced nothing but silver paper. I couldn’t believe it! I re-checked all the references to make sure I was in the right place. By the end of the third search, having still not made one single non-junk find, I was starting to believe that my historian had been in collusion with the brothers Grimm. The fourth session just about confirmed it! Half way through the fifth search a silver coloured ring, just visible in a clod of earth, had me cussing the fancy cake fiend for starting on the fizzy lemonade, when I noticed the milled edge. It was a William III sixpence. After eighteen hours’ searching I had actually made a find!
Almost immediately I unearthed a crotal bell quickly followed by another and from then on it became a completely different site. Almost every visit over the next few months produced something of interest: a follis of Diocletian, a Medieval casket key, two Roman asses, two Medieval buckles, three Edward III pennies and a half groat. Some Georgian coppers gave themselves up, then two more crotal bells, a silver cane, umbrella or parasol ferrule, a livery button and a copper-alloy ring brooch. The next weekend after finding the brooch a particularly awkward extraction from tree roots had me staring at a silver pin in the bottom of the hole. I pulled it out; the pin seemed to have been part of a buckle or something. I passed the detector coil over the spoil which I had removed and was greeted with two signals which produced the source of the pin — two halves of a silver ring brooch frame. I chastised myself for breaking it, then noticed the tarnish which said “broken in antiquity”. Later, at home, with a smear of removable glue (the experts advised not to attempt soldering) the brooch was complete once again. Gentle cleaning had revealed that the brooch was completely plain except for a letter A on the reverse.

The apple trees had leafed, blossomed and now, full of developing fruit were becoming fragile to an accidental brush and very difficult to search around. I arrived at the site having decided this was going to be the last search for this season. The first hour or so produced nothing but silver paper (this is where I came in, I thought), then a sharp signal produced the only find of the day. This was a small enameled heraldic shield with a fairly long spike protruding from the reverse. I had seen horse harness pendants in this magazine but nothing like this.
Having abandoned the site to the farmer, at least for the time being, I now had a bit of time to try and have these last two finds identified. With much help from medieval expert Nick Griffiths, I learned that the brooch is fairly typical of thirteenth century style, the single letter A on the back, however, is unusual indeed. The consensus of opinions is that there are three possible solutions, none easy to parallel!
(i)“A” stands for the maker — unusual since jewelry is hardly ever marked by the maker at this period, and marks put on by makers usually give the full name — at least more than a single letter!
(ii)   There is a well-known passage in Chaucer, the prologue to the Canterbury Tales — describing the nun, (The Prioress), he says she wore “a brooch of gold ful sheene on which ther was first writ a crowned A and after, Amor Vincit Omnia” However, in Chaucer, the A appears on the front where everyone could see it, not on the back.
(iii) It may stand for a Saint’s name — e.g. Anne, or possibly the beginning of Ave Maria, the prayer to the Virgin, which was used as a charm against all dangers. If a Saint’s name, it might be a patron saint; in both cases these would be put on the back of the brooch to be against the person so as to give maximum effect!
The shield (picture top left) portrayed six beasts but obviously reverse. (In heraldry, all sideways facing devices should face left, when viewed from the front of the shield.) The reversal is probably the result of an incompetent metal worker who cut the mould the wrong way round. The style of shield appears from the 1280s onwards. It is likely that the object was a mount for a wooden casket or travelling chest. Initial thoughts were that the beasts were lions rampant which would have been the arms of The Earl of Leyburn if the lions had been silver or Lord Salisbury if gold.
Apart from not being able to fit a full lion rampant into any of the cavities on the shield, and every time I looked closely I could see the head and shoulders of a smooth-haired “cat” — I was quite satisfied until I discovered that the first incumbent of the manor bore the arms: Azure six leopard heads, couped at the neck, 3,2,1 or. (Picture top right).
Considering the relative scarcity of these objects it seems highly unlikely that someone in obscurity who had a coat of arms so very similar to that of the owners of the Manor itself, should lose his mount there. Further, as the border of the mount had obviously been gold-gilt, logic (albeit twentieth century logic) dictates that the beasts would have been gold. While gold itself does not normally deteriorate in the ground, the loss of the gold beasts could be explained by corrosion of the bond between the gold and the base metal. The contrary argument is that the mount clearly portrays more of the beasts than just heads; however, if the cavities on the shield could be taken to represent full rampant lions then equally could they not represent leopard heads? If the maker had made one blunder might he not have made two?
I’ll never know for sure, of course, but I like to think that the mount came from the first lord of the manor. I wonder if he’s left anything else for me to find?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

On the Third Day of Christmas…


…I dug up what you see.

Using the Anderson rod to guide my Detech EDS metal detector, I was delighted to find this third or fourth century gold Roman child’s finger ring. The engraving on the bezel is of a palm leaf or branch, having the possible intention of protecting the wearer from disease. These rings are said to be rare in Britain but common in the eastern Roman Empire.

The bottom of the hoop has been flattened and this is so regularly executed that I believe this wasn’t accidental. As the child grew up, they would be unable to wear the ring on a finger and I wonder if it was flattened to wear, or possibly as a result of wearing, on a wrist strap. Under the British Treasure Act I have reported the find to the coroner and Finds Liaison Officer and we’ll see what comments the experts have.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope you make some great finds in 2015.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Claire Liebig-Denham's New Book Reviewed.


 

If you are just starting out in the fascinating hobby of metal detecting or treasure hunting, or even if you have been in it for a while, who do you turn to for advice? Someone who has only recently got their feet wet in the hobby or an old hand who can hardly remember what it was like to be a beginner? Personally I would go for both views and this is the excellent well-researched starter’s view I can thoroughly recommend.

I like the way Claire has put this book together, with the main text covering the essentials, in 130 pages, together with many links to videos and web pages leading to more in-depth information.

The contents include: eight pages of useful TIPS to get the best out of your detecting. This is a boon for newbies and a refresher for old hands.

There are ten pages of RESOURCES with many links to excellent sites related to metal detecting, such as maps, soils, site finding, history, finds identification and dowsing. This section is invaluable, for here I discovered a fantastic website, which led to nearby land where several Roman gold coins had been found. A cache hereabouts is likely and needs investigating.

Sixty pages of INFORMATION follow that you can dip into at will. The information is divided into three main sections covering clubs, associations, forums and websites; a comprehensive section on voluntary codes, finds reporting, rules, regulations and laws around the World and finally a glossary of metal detecting terminology essential to beginners.

The find of a lifetime starts with getting permission and the PERMISSIONS section gives good coverage of techniques you can use to persuade landowners to grant you access to their land so you can make those great finds.

Everyone in the hobby knows the importance of research to find sites of human activity in the past but few carry out the research. I once asked a group of thirty detectorists why they did not do research and the answer came back; “we don’t know how.” The SEARCH section gives plenty of ideas on places and clues to look for, so you will know how and what to research.

Even though I have been in the hobby for over 40 years I was still able to learn from this book. It contains a goldmine of tips, resources and information, not only for beginners but for all metal detectorists and treasure hunters.

For more information please visit:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gold!


I switched back to baiting the Anderson PMR-II with pure silver on the basis that it should cover almost the entire spectrum of desirable finds, including solid gold, while reducing the apparent sensitivity to gold plate. It worked! It wasn’t long before I was holding an Iron Age gold stater coin, which I had dug up after the Anderson had led my detector to it. One swallow (or is it one stater?) doesn’t make a summer, they say, so I ended my summer with a second gold stater found in exactly the same way.

The coins are Gallic War Uniface gold staters of the Ambiani tribe who were centred around Amiens in Northern France, dating c.60-30 BC. It is believed they were mainly brought to Britain by way of payment to mercenaries fighting Caesar’s armies in Gaul.