Borrowed Times

This blog is almost a direct crib from a newsletter I produced for the UNITED KINGDOM DETECTOR FINDS DATABASE (UKDFD). As you can see, the date is 2007 when the database had been in operation for two years.

In issue number four I discussed two unidentified items and asked for help with identification. Alas, thirteen years later they still remain a mystery. Although the majority of items submitted for identification are done within a short space of time, it was inevitable and to be expected that some of the items uploaded to the database are not so easily identifiable, thus validation will take longer. So what happens to them and what is the procedure?

First, the Identification Team discuss all problematic artefacts online within a private user group on the UKDFD forum. They may seek identifications that are supported by published sources of reference and records are only validated when there is a high level of confidence in the accuracy. If identifications are confirmed and the record is validated, the UKDFD will acknowledge the person providing the information (unless requested otherwise). Although accessible by those registered with the database, any unidentified objects were not usually listed on the public database due to their ID status.


The item shown above (number 7232 on the database) was found about nineteen years ago by well-known and respected detectorist Sally Atkinson. When she showed it to the PAS, it came back unidentified. She says that it was found on a proven ‘Roman site’ and she is almost certain it is from that period. But what can it be? It is 34 mm in length, 15 mm at the top and tapers to 9 mm.

So, even though the form and patina suggested a Roman date the team was unable to say for definite what it could be. Some of the suggestions have ranged from some kind of shank, key related, knife handle, fibula section, furniture terminal or the leg off something. So, the jury’s still out on this one unless, of course, you know better!

An unidentified cast copper-alloy object of the Roman period. It is of hollow square section, tapered, with four ribs and a castellated edge at the larger end. It appears to be complete and undamaged. – from the UKDFD

Cast copper alloy square-sectioned hollow shank with elaborate stepped top. Possible mount/ferrule/stylus. Of Roman date. It measures 34.31mm in length, 14.23mm wide and 14.53mm thick.- from the PAS

Another Strange Object

They certainly find some fascinating objects in Yorkshire. Peter Morris uploaded this cast copper alloy base – number 9057 on the database – which also had everyone scratching their heads as to what it might be.

The intriguing thing about this find is that the base contains a decorated material resembling horn or it may be fossil. Width 46mm, Depth 31mm. Height 28mm

Bonus Blog – A little Slab, Tickle then Slap!

The question on the detecting forum was innocent enough: “Are there any books available or web pages about Irish countermarked slab tokens?”

I was intrigued. I’m regarded by many to be some kind of knowledgeable person on all things detecting, but that’s far from the truth. I’m an imaginative writer and have never set myself up as an expert. I’d never heard of a slab token and was determined to find out more.

My first port of call was my friend Mr. Google. Search as I might, I couldn’t find anything. The nearest I got was an invitation to buy tickets for a music festival where everything inside the ‘Festival Fence’ would be available, but only with tokens! My mind went into overdrive.

I tentatively replied to the request on the forum, because I didn’t want to look like a numpty. According to the Urban Dictionary ‘Someone who (sometimes unwittingly) by speech or action shows a lack of knowledge or misconception of a particular subject or situation to the amusement of others.’

I was given an answer by the person who had posed the question: He said, SLAB tokens are old worn hammered coins, shilling or groats countermarked with the initials of merchants and used as trade tokens.’

I graciously thanked the poster and replied that I’d never heard of them and that we ‘learnt something new every day’. However, I wasn’t entirely happy with the reply.

Another poster prefaced his comment with a smiley and said: ‘I think you meant SLAP token, not slab.’ Then everything fell into place. Mr. Google was very helpful this time and directed me to Rod Blunt’s good old United Kingdom Detector Finds Database (UKDFD) where I got the following information. At last I had an answer!

Continue reading “Bonus Blog – A little Slab, Tickle then Slap!”

Bobs Bits 2

Bob’s Hoard

Although they were not gold or silver coins, Bob Burton was elated when he found his first hoard 0f fifteen almost identically marked tokens. Unfortunately I don’t have a close-up picture of one of the tokens.

The interesting thing is that they had been marked twice and, it is believed that JN is the mark of Joshua Noakes, a Wolverhampton market trader. I can’t find this or any other information. And unable to find ziltch on the initials GH. There must be someone out there who could tell me more.

Bob says, “Most people find ancient and valuable coins, but I’m well pleased with my little bit of local history. When I’m able, I will return to the field and perhaps find more!”

Continue reading “Bobs Bits 2”
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