Inspired by the BBC series, I went ahead and got myself a metal detector for the holidays. I am not sure if anyone else on the BBS is into this hobby, but I thought it would be fun to have a place to share our finds and tips. Happy hunting!
The model I got is a cheap one. It doesn’t even have a brand, just a model number. It was only 7,200 Yen (about 60 USD), so I am hoping that it will pay for itself pretty quickly (the largest denomination coin in Japan is 500 Yen, or about four dollars).
This is my first metal detector in nearly two decades. I’m surprised at how lightweight it is; it’s barely more than kilogram. It runs on 6 AAA batteries (I searched for one that uses 9V, but that type of battery isn’t all that common here in Japan to begin with). Unlike the one that I had around the turn of the century, this one has an LCD that indicates what it thinks you’ve found and how deep it thinks it is. Those existed back then, but they were pretty damn expensive. With my old metal detector, you had to rely on the sound to try to guess what you were about to dig up (or pass on).
I am planning to hit the beach over the holidays. There are a few big beaches in Kobe where people are bound to lose coins and whatnot. I am not at all sure if it is legal to metal detect in parks here (Japanese message boards are giving me conflicting information on that), but the beach seems like a safe bet with better potential for finds anyway.
Hope you were able to see the new episode (BBC Boxing Day).
I have no knowledge of modern detectors – I made one from instructions in a hobbies magazine at school, but it struggled to pick up a coin under a mat and I moved on. But I do occasionally look for pottery after a field has been ploughed when walking dogs.
A good friend of mine occasionally goes detecting.
He’s never found anything of worth using it.
However, he is a groundworker, and is always picking up interesting bits and bobs. A local amateur historian took a look at his collection. Turns out what he thought were tiny fossil shells were actually roman beads, and what he thought was a worthless bit of metal turned out to be a roman tunic clasp (complete with what may be a gold leopard on it). There is also a little brooch with some diamonds (most missing).
For context, he lives in Newport Pagnell, UK, which was a roman settlement and then, much later, the town where Cromwell was based.
I really wanted to see the Detectorist movie the other day but I couldn’t find any way to see it in the US.
Hopefully it won’t be long before I can see it.
Good luck with your new hobby.
The use of metal dectors is a novelty in Brazil. Treasure hunters used to work on the beaches, usually after heavy surf, when the waves churn up the sand and bring up ancient forgotten objects. If in the past they used to find coins and jewelry, today they find cameras like the GoPro or cell phones.
Good luck in your treasure hunt!
TL;DR, In case you’re thinking of doing this in Ireland, don’t.
My friend has found some really neat neolithic bits in her garden here in Newcastle - a flint core tool and a couple of bits of carved stone that were presumably neolithic jewellery. The core tool is such a satisfying object to hold, and would be surprisingly useful even today.
Try using a VPN and then connecting to BBC’s iPlayer (though if it asks you if you have a licence and what your postcode is, you may have to make some stuff up - inc a genuine UK postcode where a licence fee payer lives - I cannot remember what it asks for as it always auto-logs me into my account.)
I’d love to know what a core tool is for.
My friend believes he has one, but he had his collection ‘looked at’ a few years back and can’t remember what they said about it.
He has got a couple of knapped flint arrow-heads too, so we’re going back a bit!
Pretty much everything - it’s like a stone age Swiss army knife according to her colleague at the university who told her what the funny-looking stone on the mantlepiece was. There’s a sharp edge for slicing, a serrated one for sawing and a smaller curved edge for scraping, along with a pointy bit for poking things.
It’s the most gloriously tactile object to hold, as well. I am most covetous of it.
She lives on a 60s council estate near the river in Newcastle, and it’s obvious that the land there has been occupied for millennia, given these just popped up when she was digging over the flowerbed in her tiny garden. God knows what you’d find if you went all Serious Archaeology round there
That is fascinating, thank you.
Today, I took my new metal detector out to Suma Beach.
I found 60 Yen, some rusted pieces of metal, some cans and countless pulltabs. (Seriously, let’s all boycott companies that sell drinks in cans with removable pulltabs. They are the bane of the detectorist’s existence.)
It took me quite a while to figure out how to turn on discrimination mode (a mode in which the machine ignores certain types of signals - this thing seriously did not come with a manual), so I was getting a ton of phantom signals. The machine would beep two or three times with each swing, but when I swang back, the signals would disappear or move around. I think that this has something to do with the chemical composition of the sand. Even with discrimination mode on, there were more phantom signals than good signals that could be traced to a particular point in the sand. It didn’t help that there was some lag between when the coil passed over metal and when the machine beeped (I forgot to bring headphones, so hopefully that will be better next time). But yeah, this detector is not so great. You get what you pay for. It’ll pay for itself eventually, and I will upgrade to something proper the next time I visit the US.
All told, it wasn’t a great first outing, but I got some exercise and a relaxing day at the beach, where I got to watch the sunset. That’s ultimately what the hobby is about. At least until you find something good, that is.
ETA: I found the manual online. I probably should have searched before going out.
Also, in case anyone is wondering, I did of course fill in all of my holes and I took all of the trash home to dispose of properly. Ethical detecting is very important to the sound development of the hobby.
ETA Again: I forgot to put up a picture of my first find. Coincidentally, this coin is from the year of my birth.
I dont think I’ve seen a removable pull tab in 30 years. Are you digging up relics of bygone times?
That’s entirely possible. It’s just amazing how many of them you find. They are absolutely everywhere.
But seriously, i love that this wonderful little series has inspired it.
I’d been thinking of taking up the hobby again for years, but it’s almost unheard of in Japan, so I just needed an extra little push. The series was just what I needed to finally do it.
I’ve always thought of it as one of those peculiarly British, maybe eccentric, pastimes that is looked on with bemusement from abroad and given there is a lot of stuff to find here considering how much foot traffic this tiny island has had. It has been a surprise and delight to see the series take off the way it has, never thinking it would translate all that well to outside audiences.
It’s a pretty niche hobby in the States, but a fair enough number of (definitely eccentric) people do it.
There isn’t as much of great historical value to find there, but there are a few places in the US where you can find gold nuggets. And there’s always jewelry and little trinkets and whatnot.
I lived in the Ft Lauderdale area in the early 90s, and about a half dozen old dudes would regularly shuffle along the beach with their metal detectors. One was quite aggressive invading the personal beach space of anyone in his path—no way he was deviating from his search pattern! I don’t know if they were a club, friends, or competitors, but still better than golf, right?