It was a freezing cold snowy morning in December, but we had been looking forward to a days detecting so decided to give it a go anyway. We arrived at the location at around 10 in the morning, avoiding the freezing fog that had settled overnight.

We parked up and made our way along the track to the field, the path was pretty treacherous with a few centimetres of frozen ice covering it and we slid and stumbled our way down to the field below. Things weren’t looking good. It was white over and very very cold!

We were here anyway so decided to give it a go. After about 10-15 minutes I had a reasonable signal and positioned my spade and pushed down on it with my foot – nothing happened! The spade didn’t even break the surface, I tried again, stamping down harder, still nothing other than maybe a couple of millimetres of give. No matter what I tried, it was like chipping away at a concrete path. There was no way that I could dig into this frozen ground.

I then noticed that there a few clumps of trees at various points along the edge of the field and the ground wasn’t white underneath them, decided to head over to one of them to see if the ground was any softer underneath them. I started to detect and soon hit a reasonable sounding signal, and fortunately the ground was indeed softer here, almost easy digging compared with the open frozen field. My much needed find turned out to be a four hole button but at least I was detecting and just as importantly, digging!

I continued to detect under the trees and soon had added a 1917 penny to my finds, then a 1943 half penny, followed by a 1920’s half penny in fairly poor condition, but at least people had been in this area and losing things!

My next signal under the trees was not that much different to any of the others, but I dug it anyway, expecting maybe another penny, but as I turned over the clod I caught sight of a small length of coppery looking chain, I reached in and teased it out. I could immediately see that it had some blueish stone inserts, but as I picked it up I was disappointed by how light it felt in my hand. Just cheap costume jewellery, I thought. It was clearly a bracelet, but nothing to get excited about.

Bob was detecting some distance away, and for a bit of a joke, I shouted out “Gold!”, he didn’t hear me, he had his headphones on and it was a bit windy as well. So I shouted again, louder this time. He looked across and lifted his headphones off one ear and shouted back “sorry what? did you say something?” I once again, in jest, shouted “Gold!” He immediately put his detector down and headed my way. Bear in mind he was out in the open field and had given up digging and was just marking interesting finds using GPS coordinates and not digging them, with the intention of returning another day. Not my idea of detecting, but if it worked for him then why not?

Once he was by my side I said ‘Well gold coloured costume jewellery anyway”. I dropped it into his hand and he looked at it, weighed it up in his hand and said that it was a shame that it wasn’t gold but never mind.

Then we just continued detecting, Bob didn’t find anything at all, and I just found another copper halfpenny, this time from the 1920’s.

Eventually we decided that it was getting very cold and quite dark, so gave up and headed for our favourite local pub. An old fashioned kind of place, but the beer was great and a pickled egg with piri piri (is that how you spell it?) sauce went down very well. We chatted with some of the regulars that we know and eventually made our way home. Fortunately for Bob, he lives 5 minutes away, for me it was a half hour drive back home.

Once back home I looked at my sorry looking handful of finds and thought that at least the day had been very cold but fun (ish), and in great company, and with beer and food at the end. I then cleaned up the bracelet and picked out the mud from the very worn clasp which was probably the reason it had come loose and fallen off someones wrist.

A bit later I took a few photos of my finds and posted then on a couple of Facebook groups, to show how pointless detecting in frozen conditions could be. One of the photos showed the only markings on the bracelet, maybe a number 15 and some letters, but these markings were tiny and not being anything like an expert in jewellery had no idea what it meant. My post had said something about me being out detecting all day in the freezing cold and on ground that could barely be dug into, and that this was all that I found, just a button, a few coins and some costume jewellery.

Fairly soon after someone replied to my post suggesting that those marks read 15ct, which meant that the bracelet was actually gold. I thought, no, surely not, but I did my research and yes, that mark is correct, it is 15ct gold. Now that isn’t particularly high quality gold, but what is 15ct gold?

15ct gold had a 62.5% gold content, so less than 24ct gold which is almost pure gold. 15ct gold jewellery would have been made sometime between 1854 and 1931.

A couple of days later I took the bracelet into a very reputable jeweller who confirmed that the bracelet was 15ct gold and set with turquoise stones and almost certainly dated from the late Victorian era, so maybe the late 1890’s.

So that was my first ever gold found metal detecting, but fingers crossed there is more to come.