Frag of a lion-shaped badge with a rivet used to fix it to some surface. Photograph Tobias Bondesson.
Another day of fruitful fieldwork, with friendly landowners and pretty good weather. We started out with 20 man-hours in the fields around a fortified hilltop settlement in Tingstad parish. The hillfort was trial-trenched in 1903, yielding the richest finds known to date from a 3rd and 4th century settlement in Östergötland. I was hoping that we might run into something interesting of 5th century date. No such luck: our oldest datable find all day was a piece of a 9th century copper-alloy equal-armed brooch of the Ljønes type.
Frag of an equal-armed brooch of the Ljønes type. 9th century. Photograph Tobias Bondesson.
But as so often, the Tingstad site offered some interesting stuff that we aren’t actually looking for: the leg of a Renaissance tripod brass pot and a little cast relief badge depicting a heraldic lion.
I only managed to pick up a fresh roebuck antler. Actually, I’m not a very good metal detectorist. I make much fewer finds than the guys I work with, and this means that they find most of the interesting things (since you have a certain very small chance of being lucky every time you get something out of the ground). I’ve unsuccessfully been trying to pin down the reason that I’m not doing better. Some of the guys have different, more expensive gear than me, but one has the same kind of machine and still finds far more. I’ve checked that I’ve configured everything correctly and that I’m doing all the right things. I think it may be a question of wordless expertise acquired through practice.
On to Östra Husby for lunch and 16 man-hours of metal-detecting on the site where we found a cool piece of 4th century jewellery a year ago. We weren’t at all as lucky this time: our oldest find this year is a finial from a 16th century table knife. One or two 17th century coins (good old Queen Christina, nothing makes a detector shrill like her quarter öre coins) and an 18th century shoe buckle bear mentioning. When we arrived, a posh-looking cat was hunting a squirrel. Later it walked all over my black car, decorating it liberally with muddy paw prints.
One fine thing about metal detector expeditions is the evenings when we sit around a table, cleaning and classifying finds. I’m learning learn a lot about Early Modern small finds, and I sometimes have a chance to pass on some knowledge about 1st Millennium stuff. Good people, good times!