It was earlier this summer, Sunday 12th July 2023 to be exact that I decided to go out to a local permission for a few hours detecting. It was mid afternoon and I thought that it would be passed the hottest time of the day, and the evenings would be quite light until late, so I arrived at my permission at about 3:30pm. I parked in my usual place on a field that was surrounded by fields that I had permission to detect on. This point was where one permission neighboured another, so I could walk from one field to another across the two permissions.

I decided to go onto a field that I had never tried before. I climbed over the gate and set everything up. As I dug my spade into the ground it just chipped into the surface and bounced off. The heat of the sun had baked the ground dry, but I couldn’t do anything about that, so started to detect. Some people say that detecting in summer is a waste of time, that you just don’t get the same depth as you do with damp wet ground. That may well be true, but I would rather be out detecting than not, so headed out across this new field.

To be fair I wasn’t finding much, a few pieces of lead, a pre decimal copper penny, a button, a bag seal and a few other not so interesting bits, and the ground was so hard! Digging into it was difficult, in fact nearly impossible.

Then I had another signal, it was strong and clear, but not too loud. The ground of course was ridiculously hard, I was chipping and prising my way in. It was tough hot going, I managed to get a clod of grass out, but only a couple of inches deep, it was dry and dusty. My pinpointer quickly found the item, just below the surface below where the clod had come out of, so I had to use my digging tool to break into that dry hard ground. The surface cracked and broke as my tool worked its way in, then I saw it amongst the shards of hardened soil. As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly what it was. I had seen photos of them, but never seen one myself. I took a breath, then lifted it out and held it in my hand, then I rested it on my knee to take the first ever photo of this magical artefact.

I was both in shock and excited at the same time. This was a medieval horse harness pendant that I had managed to extract from a rock hard field without damaging it. It was only about 3 inches down, but had been rolling around in this field for the best part of 800 years! Not only had it survived all this time, virtually unscathed, otherwise being bent, but it had survived me hacking away at the ground surrounding it. It actually scared me that I might have damaged it, I was lucky not have done, to be honest. I just sat and looked at it for a long time, I couldn’t detect any more, what if the next signal was as good and I damaged it? I went home with my amazing find, pleased that I had found something really special, pleased that I had not damaged it. and happy to stop until a little rain had softened the ground up a bit more.

Once I got home I searched online for more information on my amazing find. I posted it on a Facebook group and someone came up with a link to one of the same design on the UK Portable Antiquities Scheme website. This one had the same design but was in terrible condition.

I emailed my local Musuem’s Finds Liason Officer (FLO) who emailed back to confirm that it was indeed a medieval horse harness hanger from the 12th century. It was also of a very design very rarely seen and in amazing condition.

So there we go, amazing things are out there to find, but be careful, it only takes one slip to damage something forever. If conditions aren’t right maybe leave your detecting until they are. If it has been there for 800 years, another month or so won’t matter.