Category Archives: Detecting

Viking eye candy!

I have been having a lovely time researching images for the next thing that Henry draws with his magic pencil – it’s going to be a scale model of a Viking ship prow, which gets him into all kinds of trouble!

I’d like to share some of the amazing things I stumbled across today, but I don’t know the copyright owners for any of them – the perils of Google Image-ing! So here are a collection of links; I hope you enjoy the images at the end of them.

A wonderfully engraved axe – I saw this at the British Museum expo, and it was outstanding. Not a prow, though!

Now THIS is a prow! How evil is this! Too creepy, though, it would give Henry nightmares.

These are cool, and so is this and this; but all a bit complicated for my lad to draw.

This is doable – but he’s trying to stay away from things that might bite πŸ™‚

Now this beastie really, really wants to be chosen – its image kept on popping up. It’s cute, and sad – but maybe too complicated; I might go with this or this instead.

And this is the trouble that will show up πŸ˜€ His name is Snorri Snorrisen.

This is the last story to be completed of the next book, which should be ready to release just after Christmas.

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Filed under Detecting, Henry, History

Why I get such pleasure from going detecting…

I came across a lovely quote in the week, about why people go fishing. Now, I don’t do fishing – I think I was about 14 last time I caught a fish – but this is pretty well why I go detecting;
Fishing provides that connection with the whole living world. It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way. A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.
Ted Hughes

I had the most amazing experience on the field tonight. I parked the car, started detecting, and ground to a halt to watch the two adult buzzards and last year’s youngster, riding the wind swooping up the valley side. The female has particularly lovely markings, similar to these:

Photograph courtesy of Aviceda { creative Commons Attribution}

Photograph courtesy of Aviceda { creative Commons Attribution}

It started chucking it down; they went off to sulk in a bush, I retreated to the car. The rain was coming from one side, so the windscreen and one side window were completely rain-obscured. The other side was dry, though.

I noticed some fast movement on that side, and watched enthralled as a stoat and a baby rabbit danced a most elegant pavanne, with fluid grace. Well, that was only going to end one way; the stoat made the killing move almost in touching distance of the car, and stopped to catch its breath for a while, completely unaware of me.

stoat-wallpapers-4Stoat. Photo by Marsch

Soon it trotted off, without eating the rabbit, and I was annoyed at its wastefulness; but it reappeared with two clones – presumably its kits – further down the slope. They sat and waited, apart from a brief bout of twining round each other, whilst the original went back and dragged the rabbit – easily as big as it was – down to them, and out of sight under a bush.

The rain stopped as abruptly as it had started. The buzzards launched themselves again, and flew off. It was too late to do much detecting, but it didn’t matter; I had been immersed in nature’s beauty for long enough, and was completely at peace.

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Things I’m looking forward to over the summer!

As well as more mundane things, like the Cosmos in my garden blooming, and having the house to myself so I can cook on my braii Every Single Day if I feel like it – I’ve got some really fun things planned over the summer!

I’m starting July off gently, with a karate training session-cum-get together on the beach, plus a couple of days’ leave just to chill in. I may get organised enough to weed the garden or start a couple of the paint projects I have in mind; or the harvest may be in, giving me access to some super countryside. I have to spend a week in Milton Keynes towards the end of the month, but that’s good – I’ll accrue enough time off in lieu to take a whole week off (note comment re harvest πŸ™‚ )

August is headlining with the World Science Fiction Convention in London over the Bank Holiday weekend – apart from all the fun of the con, I’m attending a writer’s workshop, which should be cool too! Plus my eldest and her boyfriend are going, so I may meet them in corridors or at the bar occcasionally!

September is the Historical Novel Society’s convention, again in London this year. I hope to have Wimer polished to my current level of the art by then, and to wave him at some agents there – plus just generally have a good time.

Then October is bronze casting workshop month. I am SO looking forward to this – I can claim it as writing research, making the self-indulgence acceptable to my inner critic, and I have the BEST idea for a bracelet design to make. Assuming I can become competent enough in wax carving between now and then to actually accomplish it… but my darling artist daughter has been drawing the shapes for me, simplifying them so that even Mum can make them πŸ˜€

And throughout this, of course, is weaving my newfound pleasure in the pub, and my longstanding love of the particular bit of countryside I’m studying. A lot of joy in my life!

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Filed under Bentley, Detecting, History, Wimer

Busyness subsided.

YaY! Whoop! <turns somersaults> I’ve finished mapping that finds-mountain from last year, only a week into the new season πŸ™‚ Go me πŸ˜€

OK, so I still have a couple of bags of stuff to wash, and the PAS Finds Liaison Officer can expect another visit from me at some point, but I have largely finished with last year’s digging writeup.

My main site last year was a tale of Bronze Age settlement, and pre-enclosure paths, which has produced some amazing flints, again. Also, I was very surprised to see the paths bracketed by little clusters of thumb-scrapers – which clearly mark hut patterns; you don’t take a tool used only for preparing hides on a hunt. These paths were strip villages, 3,000 years ago! Bang go all my preconceptions about a violent, inward-looking society!

(There’s another lovely by-product of my metal detecting. I have a story about a boy learning to be a BA smith bubbling away in my head. I suspect I need to go on one of Will Lord’s fabulous bronze casting workshops to complete the research; but the story will come.)

My winter digging this year was mostly just across the valley from my summer site. There is an at least 3,000yo main N-S footpath, whose onward travel is unclear; I wanted to nail it down over the winter. Unfortunately, nothing conclusive came up; there were still three possible routes.

Then the shooting season finished, and I moved back across the valley, just to the North of where I finished last year. Bang! There’s my route; and the spring that people stopped at before crossing the stream. I can now trace the route another 3-4 miles northward – and a little further on, there’s that peculiar arc of fields that designates a Saxon settlement. Very satisfying when things come together like that! I shall have to see who owns those fields next winter, and see if they fancy a resident metal detectorist for a few months! I shall also have to set out my evidence for the local Archaeological Unit, I think it will be new evidence for them, or they might be able to add to it.

So now I’m happily engaged in building this year’s finds mountain πŸ˜€

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Filed under Archaeology, Detecting

A bit busy just now…

The rhythms of my year revolve around the UK shooting season. Not because I shoot – I did plenty of hunting for the pot in Africa as a girl, the UK practice of using pheasants as target practice doesn’t particularly appeal – but because the gamekeeper on the estate I prefer to detect on gets very uptight if I’m anywhere in sight during the season. So from early September to 2nd Feb I’m elsewhere; this year, I’ve been able to extend my research to neighbouring estates, which has been very cool.

But now the Glorious 2nd is almost upon us, and I realise that I have not done the usual winter evening job of logging last year’s finds on my mapping database. I have an awful lot of finds to catch up with, and very little time; apologies for silence, whilst I sort out what feels like THIS many finds…

Stars in my pockets, like grains of sand...

β€œStar dune in the Gobi desert, Dunhuang, China” by Jana Eichel, distributed under a Creative Commons licence.

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I hope you enjoy my books as much as I loved writing them! Here’s my Amazon page.

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Nature’s Autumn gifts

Weather-wise, today was perfect: a hint of mist first thing, so soften the view; then by the time I was ready to go digging, it was so sunny and bright that I worked in a T-shirt.

The best bit, though, was finding someone parked at the field entrance, and “having” to park at the top of the woods and walk down – through satisfying pillows of leaves for kicking, then out onto the meadow at the edge of the wood, looking down a long, long vista of just-turning leaves, punctuated here and there with a tree or bush with its flame already well advanced.Β  Glorious… I’ve added Euonymus Alata Rudy Haag to my must-have list. It pulled me the width of the meadow to admire its vibrant beauty.

Back in my own garden, I gathered a posy-vase full of the last flowers – cosmos, a single sweet pea, and a spray of asparagus foliage for contrast. It’s a satisfyingly fat lollipop – no sophistication here; but still, something to make me smile over many days!

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Night hawks and history lectures…

Yesterday, I phoned my favourite farmer up and agreed we’d talk about where to detect next in the New Year.

Today, he phoned me – whilst I was on a conference call, so he got my answer phone. Not one message, but three; of increasing urgency. The gist was, could I please get on a certain field, as soon as possible, and get detecting; never mind the gamekeeper, never mind the shoot, just get on there!

A night hawk has been working the field – a detectorist who is absolutely not authorised, who is just stripping off what treasure he can find to sell on the open market, ripping out the “goodies” out of context and selling it for whatever he can on the black market. It’s the lack of artefacts in context that hurts my farmer and I most, I have been building up such a superb picture of the history of the farm. The rat has been working with his detector set only for gold and silver, digging and leaving holes alongside the hedge – I hope he got lots of aluminium cans! My farmer rides along that headland, as do his children; a horse putting a foot into a hole masked by grass could kill someone.

I hate that kind of behaviour. I will indeed be on that field as much as possible, to keep the bastard at bay.

At night, I have another fabulous discovery – a course on writing historical fiction! Whilst I can’t write any, or soon-to-be-ex-hubby can put a claim on the income from it, I can profitably learn about the craft. It opened today, and I am loving the first reading assignments! One was about my heroine, Hilary Mantel; I have been in awe of her historical writing since I realised that I refused to accept that I knew what was going to happen!

So my days, and evenings, are going to be full of happy stuff for a while πŸ™‚ And with a bit of luck, soon-to-be-ex-hubby has found a flat, and I can sleep at night.

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I hope you enjoy my books as much as I loved writing them! Here’s my Amazon page.

If you’d like to know more about my writing, you can sign up for my newsletter.

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Filed under Detecting, History