Monthly Archives: January 2018

Metal Detecting & Archaeology – Digging away at the Myths

At our meeting on Thursday, 11th January, Steve Critchley will give an illustrated talk based on his experience of metal detecting and archaeology over the last 40 years.  The use of metal detectors has often been controversial with archaeologists, and over time many myths have become established in the public’s perception.  However, when in the hands of a skilled operator, detectors can contribute positively to the understanding of many sites under excavation.  Their use by hobbyists has transformed the understanding of ancient coinage and artefact types, as well as the distribution of small finds throughout the landscape.

Steve has been a long-time advocate of the meaningful integration of metal detecting into archaeological excavations, and for recognition of the benefits of responsible detectorists.  His talk starts at 7.30 pm in the Conference Centre, Deeping School.  Everyone is welcome.  There is a £2 charge for non-members.

Although finds of treasure attract the most publicity, mundane items from the past are valuable links to forgotten lives.  Above is a selection of legs from metal cauldrons or cooking pots, in use from medieval times until about 1700.  The cauldrons had three legs to give stability on uneven ground and would have been placed directly on a fire, or suspended over it by a handle.  These broken specimens, found in fields in South Lincolnshire, show signs of burning and soot on their feet which are shaped like animals’ paws.

There is potential in any piece of land to find old artefacts, either of metal or pottery.  Unfortunately, recent cold and wet weather has postponed plans for a test dig and detecting session in a Deeping garden!   A more appealing option was to search for fragments of local history among old manuscripts.

According to an inventory of his possessions, “In the 37th year of the reign of King Henry VIII” (1545) James Sothebe of Market Deeping died.  He was described as priest and curate, at that time of religious turbulence.  He was an educated man of some wealth, as he owned books, ten silver spoons and 16 pieces of pewter.  His home was well furnished with a counter (desk or writing table) and chair, a standing press (wardrobe),  cupboard, beds and a large number of linen sheets, towels and table cloths which were expensive items.  He owned a large chest with two locks, which may have been used for valuables or official documents, a surplice and “one cloth to hang before an altar”.  The cloth was valued at only 16 pence, compared with his decorative wall hangings worth 2 shillings.

We can visualise his appearance from the clothing listed.  He had a doublet made of camlet (a fine, light fabric) and one of fustian which was a coarse, heavy cloth, 2 pairs of hose (tight-fitting breeches), 2 gowns and a cloak and two caps, shaped like soft berets.  For riding around the district he had his own saddle and a mare.

There is no official record of his presence here, as he died before the earliest parish register, but his remains are no doubt buried within St Guthlac’s or its churchyard.