Last summer my husband, daughter and I went metal detecting in our local woods. Of course we had dreams of uncovering some sort of golden hoard, left in days past by desperate refugees fleeing advancing armies, but we figured the reality was more likely to be an array of soft drink cans and old screws and nails, left by not-so desperate people who just couldn’t be arsed to find a bin (but that’s a whole other rant).
It seemed like a fun thing to do, the weather was nice, the woods green and glowing, and an afternoon in the fresh air searching for treasure was an afternoon well spent, as far as we were concerned.
So, what did we find?
Well, it was a surprisingly fruitful mission. The woods in question were once part of the grounds of a Jacobean manor, sadly demolished in the 1950’s when death duties and a collective sort of madness seemed to grip those in charge of our heritage homes. So the house was gone but the woods remained, and into the green we went, venturing off the beaten path in hopes of finding something special. We found loads of coins, actually. Coppers and a few no-longer shiny twenty pence pieces, enough to keep the gorgeous girl very excited. Sure, there were a few bits of tinfoil, some old rusty nails and, on one lengthy dig, the sad realisation that the large response we were getting was from a nearby drain cover, but for the most part we found stuff that was worth digging for. We even found an old penny, George V by the very faint silhouette barely visible on its worn surface, the edges nibbled away by its time in the ground. And then we found this:
What is it? It was fairly deep down, six or seven inches below the surface. It’s obviously man made, but for what purpose? For me, and this is entirely a gut instinct kind of thing, it feels as though it had something to do with the war. Like it was a gun sight or something. The piece is surprisingly heavy and very solid under all the rust, measuring about 15cm long. We were all fascinated by it, our first piece of ‘treasure.’
As we walked and listened for beeps and talked and enjoyed the day, a small boy and his mother came along the path. We were digging at that moment, and the little boy was fascinated, asking us what we were doing. I replied ‘we’re looking for treasure,’ and his face lit up.
‘Can I help?’ he asked, but his mother, smiling, told him they needed to keep going, and perhaps they could look for treasure themselves another day. So he watched for a few moments more and then they went on their way. And, as we went home under the fading sun, dirty and tired and clutching our little bag of booty, we all appreciated what a good day it had been and that maybe, the treasure we found was not something that could be measured or weighed, but something infinitely more valuable.