Not only did the New Year usher in a fresh start and expectations of what great finds lay ahead but it also brought with it some extremely hot weather in Adelaide. After sitting at home researching for a couple of days I finally headed off to my favorite relic hunting area to see if I was on the right track. My first stop was at an old house built in 1850 that was originally built and owned by some of the first whalers operating in South Australia. On arriving I approached the new owner who quickly confirmed that this was the house and the information was correct, he was nice enough to not only give me permission but told me who the farmer was that owned the land at the back of his house where two old ruins were. One of these ruins was the original house that was lived in while the main house was built and the other ruin was the stable, there were also some of the original livestock yards and a sheep dipping run behind them. The site was scattered with old peppercorn trees that would have to be well over a hundred years old, these are often a sign of where old houses stood in time past. My first target for the day was an 1894 – 1895 dog registration disc that wasn’t too far inside the block, a good start and possibly a good day ahead. I had only taken a couple of steps and another solid signal, too big to be a coin but definitely something that was worthy of a dig, it was my first intact barrel tap that I had found as they are usually broken. This was a great start and when you find targets like this you know that you are more than likely on a site that hasn’t been done or someone may have run an older detector over the site.
I continued to pull a multitude of relics from all over the site but every now and then I would have to get out of the sun and work the areas under the trees. It was on my second run under the trees that I got a booming signal, again it was solid on the E-TRAC with a tone ID of 12:45, again too big to be a coin but you just can’t ignore these. I dug about 5 inches to find the target still in the ground but close according to my propointer, I slowly loosened the remaining soil to reveal a half round brass object about the size of a tennis ball, it had some markings on it so I carefully dug under it to lever it out. I had no idea what it was but it looked like one of those little bells that you find on an elves boot, but this one looked like it had been on steroids. After a clean up and some research at home it turned out to be my best relic find so far, it was a horse bell made by Robert Wells who was a British bell-maker from about 1760 to about 1826, even though they cast hand bells, church bells, clock and room bells they however, were famous for “rumblers” they cast with a distinctive RW maker’s mark and ornate petal design. This was an amazing bit of history because I have never heard of one being found in Australia, I contacted a couple of friends who are into detecting relics who also hadn’t heard of any being found here only in England.
The Crotal bell is about the size of a tennis ball.
I was starting to overheat with the temperature now pushing up over the old century mark, I decided to give the site a real fast scout around to see what was around for a return trip at a later date. I headed out behind the ruins to where the livestock yards were and found targets everywhere, after retrieving numerous harness buckles I had another one of those too big to be a coin signals, a quick dig and out came a full stirrup, these are usually broken as well. There was one more area I wanted to try by an old peppercorn tree towards the back of the main house before calling it a day, it didn’t disappoint with a great 12:45 signal that sounded very much like a coin. With summer well and truly upon us the ground was rock hard and even though the target was shallow it took some digging to retrieve it, a beautiful 1858 Victoria Young Head Penny surfaced to give me my first coin for the day. I then hit an unusual patch, no more than about a meter square with three 1942 half pennies and a 1942 penny that looked like they may have been in a bit of a fire. Enough was enough so I started to head off knowing that this spot was going to produce some more excellent finds, as I rounded the corner the farmer was there and we had a bit of a chat and I showed him what I had found. It was at this point that I was even more convinced of how good the E-TRAC is as he told me how someone had detected this spot about 20 years ago, I figure they either gave up because of all the buckles and bits of brass or they simply pulled a few easy targets and left the rest behind. It doesn’t matter why but I do know that I am so looking forward to going back after the cows have eaten all the long grass down in about a week’s time to add to these awesome finds.