Friday, January 05, 2007

Beaches and Tidal Rivers

Now I theoretically have more time for metal detecting I have discovered that there is quite a chunk of the year where there is little or no land available for detecting so I’m trying to do something about that as I’d like to be able to go out detecting all through the year. The areas I’m keen to look at are beaches and tidal rivers, which are not only available every day of the year but are technically replenished daily. What’s more, in most cases where there is public access, you won’t need permission and won’t have to share your finds with anyone. Digging is also relatively easy. I’ve got my little spots on a nearby beach where I regularly find Iron Age, Roman, Saxon and medieval coins and artefacts. Research has shown up a beach where they used to take horses and carts out to unload the ships and barges, so there is definitely old stuff out there. Over a few searches I found a Russian lead bag seal dated 1777 and a complete crotal bell as well as modern gold rings, decimal and pre-decimal coins, including some silver. Simon, who’s a bit of a demon with his Minelab Explorer metal detector, found a complete 16th century latten spoon on the same beach and it wasn’t even bent! A few weeks later, on another beach he dug up a Stephen penny in really good condition.
As I now have to drive to Strood to the club meeting I thought I would take a look at a river site on the way. There is a little riverside town, which is quite historically interesting, it had a castle, a medieval market and the wool staple for a while. I arrived at low tide and looked at the creek first – although it looked stony and firm on the bottom where a trickle of water was running, there were mountains of mud to cross to get there and I thought NO, not on my own. However at the mouth of the creek there is a bit of a beach on the river so I thought I would give that a go. I had only seen it with the tide in before but with the tide out it wasn’t very picturesque unless you like car tyres, batteries, cans, bottles and bike frames. Oh my God I thought but went for it anyway. Well it was just nondescript bits of scrap for a while and then I found a coin – a George III halfpenny. So I concentrated searching around where I found the halfpenny and found 3 x £1 coins and then a roman bronze with a clear head – Constantine AE3. I found another 2 x £1 coins and a few decimal coppers so it didn’t turn out so badly after all.
So, if you can get to a beach or tidal river foreshore, do a bit of research and give it a go. Do be careful though as beaches and river foreshores can be dangerous. Always familiarise yourself with tide times and any local hazards; for example the tide in Morecambe Bay comes in as fast as a horse at the gallop. A few years ago 21 Chinese cockle pickers lost their lives because they were unaware of that fact! Walk out slowly and carefully, if you start to sink, back-up. Carry a whistle and don’t venture out onto desolate foreshores without a suitable partner.

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