February Talk by Ian Cole
Our talk on Friday the 17th of February was “Finds under your feet in your own back yard” by Ian Cole. The appeal of such an intriguing title attracted a good crowd, including a number of new faces. Members had fond memories of the late Sadie Cole, Ian’s mother, who used to attend our functions.
Ian divided his talk into several parts, illustrating these with actual objects and excellent photographs on the screen. He started by explaining the principles of a metal detector, indicating the range of the electro-magnetic field it produces. The penetration into the ground of this field was described as a “pudding bowl” effect, where the rim of the bowl was formed by the coils in the circular base of the detector. Successfully locating a buried object depended on a number of variables, so a great deal depended on the experience and skill of the operator.
When working across ploughed areas a number of Ian’s finds were just lying on the surface. In particular worked flint tools brought him special pleasure since his handling of them was the first time they would had been touched for thousands of years. Of course no metal detector was of any use for locating non-metallic items.
Coins were amongst the most exciting finds, and, if they are in reasonable condition, they could generally be dated with a degree of accuracy. Many coins were illustrated, and their features discussed. These ranged from the Roman period up until the 19th century, and some were beautiful, both in their design and their state of preservation. Various other objects were demonstrated, including a wide variety of buckles, buttons, spindle whorls and other metal artefacts. One photograph Ian showed on the screen put things into context, however, by showing a mountain of useless rubbish which his metal detector had discovered. He referred to this as “and the rest”, but urged discoverers not to discard items too hastily.
Ian stressed how important it was to record the finding of objects, particularly if something of possible significance had been discovered. Proper recording means, not just noting details for your own interest, but also putting this information into the public domain. The easiest way to do this is to contact Peter Reavill, the local Finds Liaison Officer of the Portable Antiquities scheme for advice. This is particularly relevant if you have discovered something which could be interpreted as a “hoard”, but Ian explained some of the problems inherent in the system, once your find has been classified.
Most of the finds shown had come from within a 10-mile radius of Kington. Members had their own favourite items. The most popular seemed to be the medieval artefacts, in particular one or two of the coins and a beautiful green strap from an early book. Some objects were naturally difficult to identify. Ian illustrated this by showing a picture of a small whistle, which, much later, was classified by a relevant expert as a rare and precious hawking whistle.
It was quite clear from the number of questions from the audience that the talk had proved popular, stimulating and thought provoking. When refreshments were being served the cluster around Ian and the table on which were displayed many fascinating objects, demonstrated the success of the evening. Full marks to Nancy Wheatland for arranging it. Review: Alan Stoyel
March Meeting. Our next meeting is on 17th March 2017 at 7.30 as usual in Kington Primary School on Mill Street, Kington. This month we have a more agricultural flavour to our history as David Protheroe will be talking to us on the topic of The History of the Hereford Cattle Association. Do come and join us – members are free, visitors £2, which includes tea or coffee and biscuits after our talk. Carolyn Giles
Editor: Vera Harrison.