A Law Unto Himself

Introducing Pat Law and his canine friend Tizer

“Doing stuff for other people makes me feel good!”

It is a fact that among the legion of detectorists, there are some very intelligent and talented people, and in varying disciplines. I have been privileged and delighted to tell some of their stories in this blog and elsewhere. Using his special skill and talent Pat produces exquisite forms that are wonders to behold. Indeed, in a recent FB comment, Jackie Kirk said, “When the world collapses and there are no more apps or computers or storage systems: when the cloud is just a cloud, Pat’s carvings will become our history.”


Mr. Patrick Law is the tall guy who always detects in shorts and a beret, no matter what the weather – and wears a beard during the winter months. Pat is a stonemason who has crossed the line from craft to art and uses his artistic ability to carve stone into fantastic creations … like the ‘grotesque’ shown below. I had mistakenly called it a gargoyle, but Pat advised me on the difference. Evidently, a gargoyle is a carved grotesque with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building.

As an art student, rugby coach, teacher and a stonemason/carver in the family business, Pat has a rich history on which to look back.

First, something about his hobby: he started detecting ‘seriously’ in January 2015. Previously he’d stopped because “the technology wasn’t up to it.” Translated, that means he was an impatient young man and soon tired of collecting tractor parts and assorted dross. He described the experience as a “passing whim.”

One Man and his Dog

Tizer, the Patterdale Terrier

But now, things have changed – and it’s all thanks to Tizer, Pat’s highly adaptable Patterdale terrier. All permissions are local, so when the dog fancies an outing, Pat takes along his faithful friend … along with the Minelab CTX. They are the dream team! Used traditionally for hunting a wide array of quarry, the terrier is now perfecting his detecting skills, although searching in thunder and lightening can be exciting – but not recommended! Tizer doesn’t like loud bangs! “He’s as daft as a brush”, says Pat, “runs all morning then sleeps all afternoon … then again perhaps he isn’t so daft after all!”

Yorkshireman Pat loves local history and told me in his colourful evocative language, “Hammered coins are okay, but I’m more interested in what was going on with love tokens, those juicy slices of romantic history, and also spindle whorls.

Love Tokens

Pat says: I’m fascinated for every one has such a story to tell … and I wonder why I collect so many! In my wanderings across the pastures I’ve found a few of these sad rejections of passion. Every time I wonder what transpired when the token was accidentally lost … or deliberately thrown away. Was he a philanderer? Was the girl seeing another? We will never know for definite!”

The Whorl Pool

© PL

Friends jokingly say that Pat has a ‘Whorl Pool’. Why does the ubiquitous spindle whorl get him ‘buzzing’? I’ll let him explain, “Spindle whorls have been made from many materials throughout history. It is the ones cast in lead that I find enthralling and I remember that incredulity when I found my first one. They are fascinating!

“I’d only been detecting for a few weeks and resigned myself to finding only Georgian items on the land I was on … then I found my first. This wasn’t a coin that changed hands on a regular basis but a personal item owned most likely by a woman. Perhaps she used – and lost it while out in the field. Was she upset at losing it? Did she place a value on it? Was it one of many she possessed? All these thoughts ran through my mind as I looked at my first whorl. I’m sure all the whorl was thinking was ‘put me back on the spindle and let’s get back to work!’ After the first find they have come out at a fairly steady and at the last count I have unearthed 58. Perhaps they would prefer to live in my house rather than in the field. Every single one from the highly decorated to the basic washer type makes me happy. When I see that off-white disc peering from the freshly dug loam I know that even if I find nothing else that day I will be going home with a smile on my face!

Faces.© PL

The fact is that somebody used his or her hands a lot, making it and using it and I can identify with that! I think of a whorl as a woman’s tool – her means of making a living. What was going on that so many were discarded and I find so many? Were they thrown away because there was a better model? Thoughts like these are what go through my head.”

I first came across Pat when I was searching for material to include in a newsletter I was creating. What he said was simple, but very profound, and worth repeating for a wider audience.

Why do we Detect?

“Why do we go wandering around in soggy pasture with mud travelling slowly but surely up our trousers? Why do we stumble along lonely beaches with the Arctic wind driving bitter sand before crashing in our faces? Why do we hobble over ploughed fields with every step carefully placed for fear of a tumble? Why is it we get up at unearthly hours in the morning and travel miles to meet up in some anonymous car park? The answer is obvious. Because we love it!

It’s the thrill, the buzz, and the anticipation. We don’t do this for the money, though some of us are lucky enough to find items of real value, that’s not the driving force behind the majority of detectorists. We don’t do it because it’s easy and instant gratification. Far from it. There can be hours, even days between good finds, but still we still go out and search when we can.

One of Pat’s creations. The cornucopia. © PL

We brave the squelching boggy fields with hope that the next signal will be the one that makes your day in wet clothes worthwhile. We search the icy sands of the foreshore with the expectation that just round the corner the scoop will have that one item you came out for. We stagger over precipitous ploughed fields eager to see what relics have been dragged up from days long gone.

It is the mystery that captivates us, drawing us in and dragging us ever onwards, searching for the lost and hidden. It is this unknown that is compelling, more so now in a world where at the click of a button most questions are answered. I liken metal detecting to a giant scratch card. You get the good signal but in reality you don’t know what’s there till you dig it.

We do it because we enjoy it. Yes we may get wet, cold, muddy and blown away but this in no way diminishes our desire for the hunt. To unearth something that has not seen the light of day for years,
to be the first person to hold something long lost and forgotten. That’s reason enough to keep us doing what we do.”

Old Fashioned

Pat tells me that he worked for a building company in which his grandfather and uncle also toiled. He was fourth of the fifth generation and the stuff he does now is what he describes as ‘old-fashioned’. What he meant, I think, is that the skill he possesses is slowly dying out, taken over by machines capable of executing a ‘Leonardo-type’ carving in so little time. No creativity involved! Even though Pat taught evening classes in stone carving, that was mostly to retired people. “Few people can afford to commission a piece of work and when they do usually change their minds because of the costs”, he said ruefully.

Take a stroll around Pat’s garden and you will see examples of his work. You have already seen one, the grotesque, but there are also functional pieces, like the planters, and other works of art. I have included a few examples for your delight and delectation!

Brilliant Craftsmanship


Pat made a special stone carving – all done by hand using old methods, and presented to me as a gift. It now resides in the porch and elicits many questions and much attention from visitors. If you find one when you are next out swinging, then I’ll be very surprised. The legend reads: JOHN THE SCRIBBLER.

More of Pat’s work. I intended to show four or five as examples, but there is much to see. The pictures below will give you an idea of Pat’s expertise and versatility. I got carried away.

Teaching Days

I haven’t shown you, but every job starts with a blank ‘canvas’ and is photographed at every stage of production. I reckon this is a throwback to Pat’s teaching days when he showed images in construction. He uses re-cycled Victorian sandstone, about 8” in diameter.

On FaceAche I’ve seen comments ranging from impressive through to fantastic, stunning, a quality talking point and incredible. I confess that I was just a little disappointed not to see the word awesome given an airing – I’m allergic to its use. Many members said that they were just ‘lost for words’.

When talking to people about Pat, one recurring comment emerged and can be summarised thus: ‘Pat Law is fantastic, has time for everyone and is the most friendly and dedicated detectorist one could ever meet.’

© Liz Law

I can just imagine Tizer endorsing the pictures of his master (taken by wife, Liz) by feverishly wagging his tail, barking loudly and running around in great excitement.

Thank you Pat, for your kind permission to say all these nice things about you. This blog has been adapted from a story that first appeared in the UK Searcher magazine. For those of you who wish to see more take a gander HERE

© Pat Law

12 thoughts on “A Law Unto Himself

  1. What a talent that man has…WOW.. I wish I had a fraction of that.. And I love the dog.. we have Jack Russell terriers.. so I know how challenging any terrier can be..

    And like Pat, I have the attitude that it is not the having, it is the getting… The hunt is the best part of getting out.

    A lovely story John, of a delightful man

    Many thanks


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this tribute to a great Artisan and human being, I’ve had the privilege to have been invited into his home to see the wonderful artefacts he’s found over the past few years, but the carvings he has displayed in his living room and garden are just something else.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done John for bringing Pats amazing artwork to our attention again I miss his contributions on the NRH forum, Pats posts on the forum always kept the forum fully active and well populated.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John I first learned what a spindle whorl was from you (thanks for that), so now I’m even more impressed with their beauty after seeing Pat’s collection of them.

    He does some stellar stone work, so he can be forgiven for the “metal detector leaning on the shovel” shot. LOL….

    Liked by 1 person

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