I had always been interested in history and was always rambling in the countryside picking up anything that looked interesting, old bottles, clay pipes and anything that looked interesting. All that changed one day in 1970 when I was watching the tea time news, a man called Ron Rowland was introduced, the next few moments changed my life. Ron walked over to a table with a bucket and tipped the contents out. Coins and rings spilled out onto the table and floor, Ron said he had found all this with a metal detector. What’s one of them? Where do you get one from? I had to find out.
I managed to find a shop that sold them in Twickenham and went down on the train to get one. It was very basic, but I was the proud owner of a metal detector. I took it out many times only to find just a few old pennies. I thought Roman coins were just a dream. Then things changed again, there appeared in the local paper an article about a treasure hunting club. I could not believe it, it was the first in the country and just up the road from me, but best of all the chairman was no other than Ron Rowland. I went to the next meeting and saw Ron talking to someone, he opened his hand and there were six Roman coins he had found at the weekend. I tried to ask him that many questions he laughed and said come to my house in the week. At Ron’s house I told him I knew nothing about treasure hunting and had found very little. Ron took me under his wing and took me all over the country showing me how and where. I don’t know how he knew everything , but he did. During this time I did manage to find a few Roman coins but not many. Ron used to write an article about treasure hunting in a magazine called Coin Monthly, and rang me to say come over as soon as you can. Ron told me he had just come back from Lincolnshire after interviewing a young lad with a detector who had been finding loads of Roman coins and Saxon artefacts. The young lad would not tell Ron exactly where he had been finding them. Ron said to get down there as soon as you can and look in any fields from Newark to Lincoln. Ron said he didn’t feel well enough to go on another adventure and that I should go alone.
I didn’t know at the time but Ron was dying. I set off for Lincolnshire for the weekend and booked into a b&b in Newark. I spent all day Saturday just looking at maps, it was a massive area. Ron always told me to follow my gut feeling. Sunday morning came and I had still not looked in any fields. I looked at the maps again and remembered what Ron said about gut feelings. I put the maps away and headed out towards Lincoln. I came across a place called Brough, and pulled off the main road, I went up a small lane and stopped the car. I was about two fields in from the main road. It was one of the biggest ploughed fields I had ever seen. As I looked over the five bar gate I could see someone on a tractor coming towards me. “What do you want” the old man asked, I asked him if I could look in his field with a metal detector. The old man said his name was Mr Waddington and said he wanted to show me something in the field. He took me to a large hollow in the ground and said a young lad with one of them detectors got a large signal here and came to find me, and asked if I’d buried anything. Mr Waddington said he hadn’t and was puzzled at what it could be. Mr Waddington went off and came back with two shovels, they started to dig and hit something hard, it was a long metal object with a lid. It turned out to be a Roman lead coffin. They pushed the lid off and inside was a skeleton and some artefacts. Mr Waddington rang Newark Museum and they sent an archaeologist to look at it. The writing inside confirmed it was a Roman Centurion who had died in a chariot race in Lincoln. The coffin was taken away and put on display in the Museum. Mr Waddington was fuming they didn’t give him any money for it, he told me they wouldn’t have the next one, and would rather use one as a horse trough. Mr Waddington wasn’t big on history! With that he let me on the field with strict instructions to shout him if I found something big. I had about an hours light left and I soon started to find things, I found about 18 Roman Coins, loads of Roman pottery a sword handle and a Saxon brooch but no more coffins!.
I made friends with three others from the Prospector club, Norman, Joe and Roger, we travelled the country together, and had many adventures.
Over the next couple of years I found over 600 Roman coins, Saxon artefacts and Medieval coins all in that field. Ron wrote a magazine article about me in which he said I had an uncanny knack of finding things.
Ron and I had travelled thousands of miles together and had thousands of laughs. When Ron could no longer come out because of his illness I always went to his house first before I went home to show him my new finds and tell him about new adventures I had planned, it was worth it to see him smile.
Sadly, Ron, Norman, Joe and Roger are no longer with us.
To my friends, wherever you are…..thank you.
You made dreams come true, you were adventurers and an inspiration.