Rob Williams and his partner Tina live in Cumbria with their three teenage children and have been using detectors for about 20 years, but only in a casual way and then only using very simple machines. That is, until now! This year they upgraded, found success – and detecting is now their main outdoor pursuit.
The couple’s love of history, and especially that of their hometown of Carlisle, spurred them to seek permissions to search. Rob’s advice to anyone contemplating taking up detecting is to do it right, and you will have a most enjoyable hobby for life. He also says that it’s a hobby suitable for both partners, so get your ‘good lady’ out digging with you!
The Significant Find
Rob and Tina prefer searching in the early evening and on that memorable day in May 2013, had been detecting for a couple of hours. It was slowly growing dark and conditions were becoming increasingly difficult. They hadn’t found much other than a handful of decimal coins, ring pulls and bottle tops so mutually decided that they would dig one more time. Now that’s a refreshing twist to the hackneyed I was just walking back to the car, aimlessly swinging my coil, kind of tale. I’m warming to these guys already!
Ron’s last signal sounded promising. And so it proved to be. When he flipped over the plug he was astounded to see what looked like the yellow shine of a gold ring nestling in the soil, but it was now too dark to see any detail. When the dirt was brushed away, the item looked like a modern day onyx-type ring.
Back home the ring was carefully washed under the tap and given a closer inspection. Rob was amazed to see what he’d found looked much older than a modern ring and said that he was in shock at realising that it might be Saxon.
His heart was racing; the adrenaline was flowing. In an effort to express his feelings he reported that he was ‘over the moon’ at what he might have found as well as ‘gobsmacked’ at his good luck. With Tina’s help they researched on the Net for more information and asked for advice on an online detecting forum to which they belong.
The farmer had been informed, was ‘quite intrigued’ by the news and requested that he be kept abreast about further developments. As this was the couple’s first major find, they had been unprepared for such an eventuality, but were conscious of the fact that they ‘must do it right’ by informing the relevant authorities.
I would always recommend that before parting with a find, that you make a decent record. Rob had taken many pictures on his mobile phone, but said that if there ever was a ‘next time’ he would take more care and strive to get better photographs. Nevertheless, he does have a complete record, including videos. “Once it’s gone, you’re gonna miss it very much!” Rob’s other advice before handing in potential treasure is to enjoy the beauty as long as you can, “Kiss it, hug it, don your best toga (old curtain will do), drink loads of wine and relive the moment … ”
An interesting aside about the handing in of the ring was that the process was very informal and not as expected. In fact, Rob and Tina enjoyed themselves so much and the conversation was good. Unfortunately, they stayed too long and when returning to the car they were presented with a £25 parking ticket.
In Rob’s words the, “ball is now rolling.” The FLO thinks the ring may be Roman and so does the curator of the local museum. Rob and Tina anxiously wait for further information as the ring wends its way through the treasure process.
Rob declared, “I never thought I would find something so unique and beautiful. To me it screams ‘status’. I’m pretty sure it’s solid gold and believe the larger stone may be a garnet, but am unsure of the other two. It‘s quite heavy for the size and it fits my little finger nicely. The location where I found the ring is now totally over-grown. We may be able to return later in the year for a more extensive search.”
And what does Tina think? She’s found plenty of silver coins and artefacts, but never gold. She jokingly refers to Rob as a ***** *******. I don’t think that phrase sits well with my blog, so you’ll have to use your imagination. Rob reckons that her time will come and he can’t wait to see her face when it eventually happens.
Since finding the ring, Rob and Tina have more questions than answers. Who wore the ring, what’s its history and how it was lost? Was it some Roman general or dignitary? Rob quite rightly says that ‘it can drive you nuts’ pondering the ‘whys’ and he would love to know more about it. There are few clues and we shall never know.
Update December 2013
Rob and Tina met Assistant Finds Liaison Officer Lauren Proctor, who stated that she couldn’t determine the composition of the stones in the ring; that must be left to the experts at the British Museum … and that could be a long process.
Within a week of finding the magnificent artefact the pair had found a second gold ring, this time a modern 18-carat wedding band. I can’t be sure that this was Tina’s first gold. There were other items, of course. The couple spent most early evenings after that detecting and are now officially addicted! “We are loving it,” enthused Rob. “Exciting times lie ahead!”
Update November 2014 – The gold Roman ring dates to the 3rd to 4th century. As recorded on PAS: ID DUR-879173
A gold finger ring, inset with three stones.
The ring has an oval bezel comprising a translucent purple glass gem in a rubbed-over box-setting. The bifurcated shoulders feature a simple stylised openwork floral design consisting of a tiny glass gem of uncertain colour in a sub-circular setting, representing the flower head, below which is a pair of leaves on a stem. This stem and leaf decoration is missing from one shoulder. The sides of the shoulders bear a simple indented (feathered) decoration. The hoop is complete and is D-shaped in section.
The workmanship of the ring is very indifferent, with the openwork components quite rudimentarily shaped and the rubbed-over settings rather roughly formed. The inlaid glass gems also appear to be of very irregular shape. There is heavy wear on all parts of the external surface
Almost a year to the date, the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle has acquired the ring for display. They acquired it for the bargain price of £700 and that has been shared with the landowner. Rob and Tina have had a private viewing and made a video celebrating the occasion of their, “very unique moment in our metal detecting history”.
A version of this report first appeared in the UK Searcher detecting magazine