Guest Post: Metal Detecting Research

Metal Detecting ResearchWe all know that researching our finds is an important part of the metal detecting process. How many of us have felt we have no real interest in something – that is until we actually come across an example of it. A few years back, for example, I found a lovely medieval spoon and for ages afterwards I was looking up a whole range of information to get a better idea of what I had found – and it hasn’t stopped there of course, far from it!

There are a few events from the past, in particular, that stick in my mind, as they have been the result of similar research. Returning the dog tag to an American family from one of their close relatives was without doubt one of the most emotional moments – for all parties concerned. Another occurred after I located a small stainless steel penknife that had belonged to one of the crew of a German bomber I was excavating. It was manufactured by a company that guaranteed it ‘Rostfrei’ (Rust Free) and when I made contact with the company their director, with typical German efficiency, finally asked, “Is our product still rust free?”

One memorable moment concerned another German Bomber – this time a Dornier 217 – that crashed in Cambridgeshire. My good friend Jason was searching the site with one of his colleagues some 20 years ago when they discovered a manufacturer’s plate. These plates are normally strips of aluminium that are stamped with serial numbers and the names of companies that produced specific components. Some aircraft in World War Two were literally plastered in manufacturer’s labels showing who made what and where. As an aside, if you stop and think about it then this really wasn’t a very good idea – if one of your aircraft was shot down over enemy territory then that enemy would know exactly where to launch air raids against specific known factories, as identified by the plates. The RAF twigged this quite early and their labels became smaller, were made of plastic and many gave very sparse details. The Germans, however, seemed not to care a jot and happily kept labelling everything until the war’s end.

Dornier 217 Plate

Anyway, back to the manufacturer’s label in question – this bore clear details of the company who made the component, so I searched Google and amazingly they still existed. I contacted them and they explained that the Dornier component that their label was connected to was most likely to be the carburetor or exhaust pipes. Even more incredible was the fact that they still made similar components to that day. All this from a tiny crumpled piece of metal. Just goes to show what research can do eh?

All the best to everyone, Jules.

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