10 unusual discoveries through metal detecting in the UK

Our recent research revealed there are on average 120 discoveries of treasure each day through metal detecting. With many of us staying at home this summer and looking into new pastimes and hobbies, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most interesting finds made over the last year to provide you with a bit of inspiration to give it a go!


1. Medieval sword (c. AD 1050-1461)


medieval sword metals4U blog

Credit: York Museums Trust


This single-handed iron sword was found near the village of Towton in North Yorkshire, which could suggest it was used in the Battle of Towton in 1461, during the English Wars of the Roses.


2. Bronze Age gold ring (c. 1150-800 BC)


bronze age ring metals4U blog

Credit: Hampshire Cultural Trust


The penannular ring belongs to a class of artefact which has been termed 'hair-rings' and 'ring-money'. Their function remains uncertain, although it is likely that they were personal adornments, possibly worn on the ears or nose, rather than being hair-ornaments or items of exchange.


3. Napoleonic grenade (c. AD 1792-1815)


Napoleonic grenade metals4U blog

Credit: Kent County Council


The grenade is formed from two half-spheres of cast iron with a cylindrical section attached to the upper hemisphere.  This type of hand grenade was most common during the Napoleonic Wars and was utilised during both land and naval combat.


4. Civil War cannonball (c. AD 1600-1800)


civil war canon ball metals4U blog

Credit: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service


Light cannon was developed in the late 15th century, but this is likely to date from the English Civil War if it is a cannonball. It is also possible that the object is some form of ball bearing or a ball from a crushing mill.


5.Mesolithic knife (C. 7000-4000 BC)


mesolithic knife metals4U blog

Credit: Hampshire Cultural Trust


Grey flint, possibly collected from the East Coast, knife. A long thin flake with long narrow parallel flakes struck from its dorsal side and with a tiny bulb at the end of a concave ventral surface.


6. Axe (c. 4000-2351 BC)


axe mexals4U blog

Credit: Norfolk County Council


This stone originates from the Whin Sill in Northern England but is abundant in Eastern counties as a glacial erratic and is frequently encountered on beaches in Norfolk and Suffolk.


7. Post-Medieval nutcrackers (AD 1650-1900)


post medieval nutcrackers metals4U blog

Credit: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum


These copper nutcrackers were discovered in Alton, Wiltshire, and date from the Post-Medieval period. The item comprises of two arms connected by a hinge mechanism, which features a copper alloy bar. The item is incomplete however, as the bottom sections of both arms are missing.


8. Post-Medieval whistle (AD 1600-1800)


post medieval whistle metals4U blog

Credit: Royal Institution of Cornwall


Found in St Allen, Cornwall, this cast lead whistle features decorations on three sides, depicting a shield surrounded by corn sheaths and possibly topped by a crown. Whilst it is clear on two of the sides, it is worn away on the third, possibly from rubbing against the wearer’s body.


9. Gold Roman ring (AD 200-300)


Roman gold ring metals4U blog

Credit: The Portable Antiquities Scheme


This cast gold ring was found near Wycombe, and dates from the Roman period. The ring is formed of a circular hoop, with seven irregular lozenge shaped facets around the edge. The item also has a rough finish both inside and out.


10. Post-Medieval statue (AD 1700-1850)


post medieval statue metals4U blog

Credit: National Museums Liverpool


This lead statue was found near Acton, Cheshire. It is believed to show the Greek god Hermes holding the infant Dionysus. Although it appears in the classical style, certain features such as the style of the beard and positioning of the figure suggest that it likely dates from the Post Medieval period.


Would you try metal detecting? What new hobbies are you looking to get into this summer? Tweet us @metals4U_uk