At one time or another we have probably all been a bit guilty of becoming complacent when we are out detecting, until something comes along that just blows you away and if you allow your imagination to run wild it opens up so many more possibilities. This was the case for me recently when I ventured back to a site that has produced some amazing relics including a Robert Wells horse “rumbler” bell, half of a silver nurse’s buckle, a silver pencil case and some other very old relics. I can remember when I first started finding pre decimal coins and the excitement that you get when you find your oldest coin to date and then you beat it and find an even earlier one and so on and so on. The problem is that if you are not careful after a while you start to get a bit complacent and once you have found an abundance you start to want better finds and fortunately we have silver coins that pop up every now and then to keep things interesting. This is what happened on my return to this relic spot, I was finding a few of the usual relics with some Commonwealth of Australia half pennies thrown in and an 1855 Victoria Young Head half penny and I can remember thinking to myself that I wish I could just find a big English silver or even a gold sovereign.
So here I was with some great finds wandering around just going through the motions when all of a sudden I got this really loud signal that actually made the E-TRAC overload because it was almost right on the surface. I raised my coil up a bit and went back over the target, it definitely was too big to be a coin but it sure did sound like another one of the horse bells but a lot shallower. I carefully started to remove some dirt and only about 2cm down the edge of a plate appeared, so it wasn’t another horse bell, maybe it was a cricket buckle? As I removed the remainder of the dirt out came a brass looking plate with a crown at the top and Peninsula written across the bottom, I had no idea what it was so I dropped it in my bag and kept detecting. Curiosity and the 34 degree day got the better of me after about 5 min or so I found a shady spot under a tree and gave the mystery plate a thorough going over to try and work out what it could be. The clasps on the back were unlike anything I had seen on any buckles I had come across previously and the writing across the top said Barrosa, now this got me a bit excited because firstly I didn’t think we had ever had a Barrosa Peninsula and secondly Barrosa was spelt differently to our well known Barossa Valley in South Australia. The drive home was filled with possibilities, was it that I had found some information in regards to our early settlement that the historians had missed (silly me), I still kept tying the crown in with the postal service maybe that was it, by the time I had arrived home my head was spinning. I quickly gave it a light clean and took some fresh pictures so that I could send them off to a couple of friends of mine in Melbourne and the ACT, surely Jarhead from Canberra would know as he loves his history. Waiting, waiting, waiting but no reply came, by this time I was surfing the net to try and shed some light on this plate.
I typed in Barrosa Peninsula South Australia but nothing was making sense, then I stumbled across some information saying how Colonel Light had named South Australia’s Barossa Valley after the battle of Barrosa; “It is fairly well known that the name Barossa, identifying South Australia’s famous wine district, the Barossa Valley, is derived from the name originally bestowed by Colonel William Light, in 1837, to the Barossa Range. It commemorates the Peninsular War Battle of Barrosa that took place between the French and a mixed British–Spanish force on 5 March 1811. This was a decisive engagement which attempted to break the French army’s blockade of Cadiz, then the Spanish capital.” Finally I had a breakthrough so I typed 67 and Barrosa Peninsula into the computer and there it was, the 2/67th foot battalion fought in this campaign. I still had no idea what the plate was until I finally came across some pictures with all different uniforms of the soldiers of that era and lo and behold it was a cross plate from this battalion, worn across the chest on the cross belts. Finally I knew what it was and where Barossa Peninsula was as well, wow what a find indeed this was almost 200 years old and a very rare find on Australian soil. So when you start to get a bit complacent with your detecting, remember that you are only ever one swing away from the find of a lifetime and that’s what it is all about.