Guest Post: Helpful Animals…

Detecting Finds

Something that often gets overlooked by those who metal detect are the diggings of animals, such as rabbits, moles, foxes and badgers, and the contribution this can make to discoveries. Where these animals dig and ‘excavate’ near to known settlement sites, it is often worth checking the soil that they ‘kick out’ during the process of tunneling to see what they have turned up. I have seen oyster shells, tile and pottery excavated from great depths by badgers and even found Roman coins near an old fox den.

Yesterday I went out with Steve near Hitchin and in the middle of the medieval market site we were exploring, there was a depression. The entire site has been well searched for more than 40 years and over that time finds were scarce. During my visit with Steve, I checked out the depression and found that a new colony of rabbits had moved in, creating about 50 fresh holes. Adjacent to this newly created warren was a huge alluvial fan of freshly dug out soil just sitting on the surface. I searched carefully through as much of the soil as I could cover and the photo above shows the results – nothing grand I know but every one of these could have been a half noble….well apart from the eyes only Victorian era marble of course!

As evidence of what you might uncover, thanks to the diggings of animals, I once found a hammered Edward 1st penny sitting on top of a large molehill. One thing to remember with moles in particular is that they consume a vast quantity of earthworms, so wherever you see a large patch of molehills near or in a known settlement site it is well worth giving the area a search. Why? Well, if you think about it, hundreds or thousands of years ago people and their livestock lived there, depositing urine, faeces and food waste products, enriching the soil and often making it darker and finer textured, perfect earthworm fodder. So, where there was once a settlement there may well be more earthworms, which will attract more moles and so, where you see molehills, this may often mean more metallic finds…

By Julian Evan-Hart

About Julian Evan-Hart
Julian is from Hertfordshire, England and has always been interested in fossils and antiquities. Julian has written a number of books on metal detecting, and is an avid user of Minelab products.

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