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Widecombe History Group Talk
A Talk by John Smith about his hobby as a metal detector and his finds from in and around Dartmoor was the subject of November's meeting.
It appears that for several years now John Smith has been metal detecting in and around Dartmoor and he has built up quite a collection of finds.
Many of these he brought to our November meeting for members to see and in some cases handle with care.
He appeared to want us to ask questions mainly about his Roman finds but the meeting was keen to hear about all his finds, from prehistoric, Roman, Medieval - right up to date including items from WW1 & WW2.
His collection contained many silver coins dating back to the first century A. D. even some gold coins which he maintained to be very valuable.
Bronze Age Axes, early buckles & broaches, candlesticks and a christening bowl which he claimed was from the Widecombe area. However he would not tell us where he actually found it. A German Army badge c 1939-44 found near Chagford.
He was asked how he shared the proceeds of his finds with the owner of the land he surveyed, but he was rather vague about that. Members thought that amongst the metal detector fraternity there was a procedure whereby a written type of contract was automatically drawn up between the detector and the landowner, so that both sides understood the legal arrangement for the benefit of each 'partner'.. This was not fully explained. The question of recording the actual place each item was found - as any archaeologist would consider that very important - did not get a very positive reply, he knew but this did not seem to be physically recorded.
John showed us some quite mundane items but some apparently valuable and historically important finds were on exhibition. A silver coin from the era of 'Robert the Bruce' 1303 A.D. for example, created much interest. He did explain that DNPA are not keen on having the open moors explored in this way. Dartmoor's commons are a 'no go area' as far as metal detecting is concerned.
A fascinating hobby, one never knows, what, if anything, will result from a day spent searching the ground - that uncertainty is what makes this hobby so attractive to those who participate.
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