Adventures in Metal Detecting: From Rainy Mishaps to Historic Finds in England

You may have read my previous article, regarding a few of my metal detecting finds and some tips, during my maiden voyage to England in 2019.  If you did, I’m grateful for your continued interest and patience with my narratives.  My hat’s off to you.

On my initial trip to this metal detecting mecca they call England, I brought my original DĒUS from XP Metal Detectors, a few X35 search coils, and what proved to be my secret weapon, the remarkably effective 9″ HF Round Coil.  Fast forward to the fall of 2023, I found myself once again on the English soil.  This time I was armed with my more advanced DĒUS II, a supposedly better plan of what to pack for England’s often unpredictable climate, and an immeasurable sense of excitement to return to this beautiful country.  In the United States, I get excited when I dig a large cent from the 1800s, but England’s civilized history is much older.  The coins, relics, and artifacts that detectorists unearth here have a greater chance of being from a much earlier time period.  I hope you enjoy reading about my mishaps and discoveries while detecting abroad, and the valuable lessons learned along the way with the DĒUS II.

Packing for a two-week trip to England requires careful consideration, especially in the fall.  To get it right, one must be a meteorologist, a psychic, a magician, or all three.  The first two can predict the weather and pack accordingly, while the latter can magically stuff your entire wardrobe, including rainwear and outerwear, into a suitcase.  I can’t, for the life of me, comprehend how a person that studies meteors, knows anything about the weather.  Regardless, I’m neither of those three.  You might not be either, so check the upcoming forecast when deciding what clothes and gear to pack.  In 2019, if I remember correctly, it was supposed to be fairly chilly a few days, but generally perfect metal detecting weather; not too cold, and not too hot.  Most importantly, no heavy rain in the forecast; maybe a light sprinkle here and there.  Perfect.  So I packed cool weather clothing that I could layer, if necessary.  I did not bring my nice rain gear, but instead opted to bring a light rain jacket.  As a precaution, I bought a pair of Frogg Toggs pants, just in case.  These were really cool – lightweight, rainproof, and fairly inexpensive.  I was so proud of this prudent purchase.  

Tip #1:  Pack clothing you can layer, including adequate outerwear for various weather conditions.

On the third or fourth day of my 2019 trip, the predicted light sprinkle was actually continuous heavy rain.  I actually welcomed the rain at first.  The fields had been dusty and dry, and I hoped the added moisture would give me a few more inches of detection depth. I was also excited to try my new pants.  My excitement was short-lived because after a few hours I had torn a hole in both knees.  The placement of these holes were perfect for filling my Muck Boots with rainwater.  After the second boot dumping, I gave up on the pants.  By the following morning it was raining even harder.  A few of us opted out of detecting that day.  I was one of them because my available raingear was now insufficient.  I should have made better decisions when deciding what to pack.  Luckily, there was a store within walking distance that supposedly sold rain pants.  The English weather gods must have pitied me, as the rain almost immediately stopped as I left the hotel.  I would have made it to the store dry, had I made a left from the hotel, instead of a right.  Realizing I must have walked in the wrong direction, I turned around once there were no more stores ahead.  I wasn’t too upset over my lack of navigational prowess.  It was a nice walk and I was really enjoying the scenery and beauty of the small English town.  Every storefront had blooming geraniums hanging near their entrance.  It felt as if I was in a Harry Potter movie.  

I passed my hotel and this time headed in the right direction.  It started raining again and I swore I could hear those same English weather gods say, “You had your chance, dummy.”  I made it to the store and embarrassingly left wet footprints on their pristine floor.  There wasn’t a mountain in sight, but this specialized shop sold climbing and outdoor survival gear.  I almost bought one of those badass looking ice-climbing axes – just because.  Reluctantly, I stuck to my plan and only bought abrasion resistant rain pants and a dry-bag large enough for my gear, extra clothes, and snacks.  In England there is a 20% VAT (value added tax).  Visitors can supposedly get a refund at the airport, if these goods are not going to stay in England.  The store owner advised me to keep my receipt, since the VAT amounted to £60 (about 75 US dollars).  Though very expensive, these pants survived kneeling in the rocky soil, kept me perfectly dry, and I still use them today.  However, I was not able to get a refund at the airport VAT kiosk, because the retailer did not give me the required paperwork.  Click here for instructions on how to properly obtain a VAT reimbursement.

Tip #2:  Make sure you have the correct forms, paperwork, and receipts for getting a VAT refund.

Four years later, in the fall of 2023, I returned to England, in hopes of saving some more amazing coins and relics.  This time I had a better understanding of what to pack, and I was eager to see how my DĒUS II would perform there.  I also made sure to lay those infamous rain pants in my suitcase, so I would not forget to pack them.  I also opted to buy a larger suitcase, so I could pack rainwear and extra long-sleeved shirts and sweatshirts, to layer for cold mornings and cool days.  This decision was almost brilliant, except those rain pants remained in my old suitcase, as I forgot to transfer them.  Once I arrived in England, I was pleasantly pleased to find the weather was just as I had planned for; 40°F. mornings and 50°F. afternoons.  It did rain several times during the first few days, but for the remainder of my trip, our area would experience some of the hottest days in recent memory.  I did not account for the possibility of this heatwave, and I neglected to pack shorts.  Luckily, I did bring multiple t-shirts and sunscreen.  

Tip #3:  Make a checklist of everything you want to pack.  Check them off once they are inside your suitcase.  Clothing, gear, charging cables, medications, etc.

On our first detecting day, we were excited to finally hit the fields.  However, the good finds were pretty scarce, at least for me.  I think I had only found half of a broken flat button, when I decided to walk back to where my gear was staged.  For some reason I was not having much luck with my 9” coil.  As I was swapping to my 11” x 13” coil, I saw my friend George walking off the field with a huge smile on his face.  He had just found a gold Bronze Age penannular ring (also known as ring money), circa 1150 – 800 BC.  Almost immediately after digging that awesome artifact, the skies opened up and it poured for a solid hour.  If I ever go to England again, I swear I’m going to wear my rain pants to the airport, just so I know I will have them.  Anyway, George was using an original DĒUS, and I knew on Day 1, that this would arguably be the best find of the trip.  I was very happy for him and I am glad I got to witness that amazing find.

My friend George found a gold Bronze Age penannular ring
(1150 – 800 B.C.)

Most of the fields contained heavy, matted stubble.  In tall corn stubble I would definitely pick the smallest coil for maneuvering around the stalks.  But after struggling the first day, I primarily used the biggest one, the 11” x 13” FMF (Fast Multi-frequency) coil, on my DĒUS II.  This decision would pay dividends, as my find rates in the dense vegetation, dramatically improved.

Tip #4 Do not be afraid to try the big coil in heavy vegetation.  You will likely need the extra depth it provides.

This coil had the advantage of increased depth, necessary for punching through the heavy weeds and stubble.  I also proved that a reactivity of 1.5 detects deeper, and is still fast enough for decent separation.  In fact, even on such a low reactivity setting, the ORX, DĒUS, and DĒUS II are still faster than many machines on the market.  On fairly clean sites, I now primarily use a 1.5 reactivity in my REAPER program.  You may have to slow your swing speed down a little.  To check and lock onto a potential target, swing fast with short, 2 to 4 inch oscillations.  I used this exact method to find a tiny, cut-quarter, hammered coin.  With focus and the right swing speed, metal detectors can uncover hidden treasures.  See what I did there?  That is Focus Speed’s motto and it is definitely a true statement.

Tip #5 On fairly clean sites, try lowering reactivity for increased detection depth.  This was proven true in heavy field vegetation and stubble.

King John short-cross penny, 1199 – 1216

Regarding programs and custom programs, find one that works for you, your detecting style, and your site.  Nobody’s custom program is better than the next.  It may be more suited for a particular style of detecting, for a particular soil type, or for a person’s audio preferences.  No factory or custom program will find the target if you do not swing over it.  Nor will they find something that’s not there to begin with.  Keep this in mind when deciding which program to use.  The best program is the one that works best for you.

Tip #6 No factory or custom program will find the target if you do not swing over it.  The best program is the one that works best for you.

Several years ago, I developed a program for the original DĒUS, and I named it REAPER.  I like a fast, deep seeking, and stable program.  I like to know when I’m in an iron-infested area, but I don’t like hearing every single iron grunt.  I like hearing those sweet, occasional, high tones, without a lot of distracting chatter and iron grunts.  Metal detecting is also a form of “dirt therapy,” for me.  Whoever first coined that phrase, I’d like to shake their hand.  I want a detecting experience that’s peaceful and stress-free.  I don’t want to feel like I’m listening to the sound effects of the latest Hollywood war movie.  I designed the REAPER program to accomplish these personal requirements.  I also like to try things that might not be the mainstream way of doing things.  It is my belief, along with many others, that raising the discrimination (DISC) setting can progressively impede detection depth.  I like to run my detector on the lowest DISC setting (-6.4).  This is essentially all metal mode, and can make the detector very “chatty.”  To eliminate some of this chatter and iron grunts, I prefer to use NOTCH, as I believe this does not have a negative effect on depth.  I also turn off the IRON AUDIO, by using a setting of 0 (zero).  Just enough of an abbreviated iron grunt will still come through, to let you know you are in an area with ferrous targets.  Sometimes this can indicate a homesite or some other form of inhabitation.  But again, I don’t want to hear all of it, just a little to let me know that this location contains ferrous targets.  I also like to use the XY screen.  It gives me a visual reassurance to help my ears to better decide if a target is worth digging.

I used the same philosophy when I designed a similar program for the DĒUS II.  Developed from numerous tests in multiple sites along the eastern United States, the REAPER program proved its usefulness in England last year.  I am currently using software version 1.1, which can be found on the XP website.  All of my finds showcased in this article, were found using this program and the 11” x 13” coil.  

I was thrilled to find my first groat, a 1483 – 1485 Richard III.  It was originally thought to be a groat of Edward IV.

It’s a shame this, 1575 Elizabeth I six pence, was nearly cut in half by a plow.

The DĒUS II loves finding hammered coins.  However, I could not swing over a perfect or uncut coin, to save my life.  Nonetheless, these cut halves will be a welcomed addition to my collection, once I get them back from the FLO.

It was fun researching the history of this button.  This is a 1790 – 1802 Royal Artillery button.

This was an interesting token that none of us had seen before.  It is a ½ penny Conder token (1787 – 1797).

I found lots of interesting coins and relics, while metal detecting in England.  The last find I will show you, was also my oldest identifiable coin of the trip.  This coin was minted in 331, to celebrate the renaming of Byzantium to Constantinople.

In wrapping up this narrative of adventure and discovery, I extend my deepest gratitude to those of you who have followed my journey from my initial foray into England in 2019, to my more recent expedition in the fall of 2023.  Your willingness to delve into another one of my tales and click through the embedded links for deeper insights and visual accompaniments, means the world to me.  Returning to England armed with my DĒUS II and a blend of anticipation and preparedness, I found myself once again mesmerized by the rich tapestry of history beneath the soil of this ancient land.  From navigating the unpredictable English weather, to cherishing the thrill of uncovering centuries-old treasures, each moment has been a testament to the enduring allure of metal detecting.

My experiences, dotted with both missteps and milestones, underscore the essence of preparation, adaptability, and the sheer joy of discovery. Whether braving the elements with my trusty rain pants, or fine-tuning my approach with the DĒUS II, the journey has been as rewarding as the finds themselves. The heart of metal detecting lies not just in the treasures we uncover but in the stories we weave, the history we unearth, and the personal growth we experience along the way.

As I share these tips and memories, I hope to inspire fellow detectorists to embrace every facet of this hobby — from the meticulous planning to the unexpected adventures that await in the fields and beyond.  May the recounting of my explorations in England serve as a beacon for your own quests.  I encourage you to step out into the unknown with curiosity, resilience, and a sense of wonder.

To those who have walked these paths with me, through the pages of my articles or alongside me in the fields of England, I offer my sincerest thanks. Here’s to the countless adventures that lie ahead, the mysteries that beckon us to solve them, and the enduring spirit of discovery that unites us all in this remarkable pursuit.

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