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The Plough Line

Posted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:39 am
by muddy fingers
GREGGOREX wrote....... "how would this machine be received in the Archi world ie in relation to ploughline and context ? if it can do what some people are claiming , Im curious!"

The plough line is a rather vague term because even if you see a furrow 14" deep that farmer will occasionally have to plough deeper than that in order to prevent the formation of what is known as a "plough pan." A plough pan is a hard compacted layer under the depth the plough reaches and is built up by modern farming methods. It is NOT an ancient layer claimed by archaeologists as being their sole perogative to search. I once asked a farmer how deep he ploughed and he replied that it varied considerably because sometimes soil conditions caused the plough share to be dragged down much deeper than he may have intended.
Of more concern should be all the beautiful and delicate objects from the past that are wrecked by modern farming practices. I dread to think of the artifacts and coins that must have already been obliterated on cultivated land where their detection and rescue is forbidden - National Trust land being just one example.

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:24 am
by Wansdyke44
The definition of the plough line is soil above which is readily disturbed and therefore anything within it has therefore been placed out of context.

Ancient items can lie below the plough line, but things like coins, buttons and small items - the things I find interesting, tend to lie within the top 10" or so of the ground and so fall nicely within the level designated as above the plough line.

Both practically and for the benefit of the archaeology I would discourage fellow detectorists from going tunneling about and making huge holes everywhere.

W [:)

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:11 pm
by littleboot
Very interesting post, thanks Muddy Fingers!
Its a subject I've wanted to know more about.
On my most recent trip to France weather, hunting, livestock etc meant I was mainly detecting a large maize stubble field I'd done many times. Most of it has been arable for donkeys years. One or two acres were orchard/pasture until 30-ish years ago.
It was in this bit that I started seeing lots and lots of medieval pottery. Never noticed it before (and I am diligent about scanning the ground for shards and other signs of occupation so I doubt that I missed them before...they simply were not there.)
I also found the first Roman I'd had off the site. Clearly the plough had gone deeper than usual.

I am relaxed about searching plough....I know that sooner or later the plough is going to ruin whatever I am going to retrieve...if it hasn't already done so.
I am concerned however about searching on pasture. Its there where the potential harm lies as far as deeper digging is concerned.

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:30 pm
by geoffb
Wansdyke44 wrote:
Both practically and for the benefit of the archaeology I would discourage fellow detectorists from going tunneling about and making huge holes everywhere.

W [:)
"5000 Saxon Coin Hoard Found In Bucks"
Its a good job Paul Coleman of the Weekend Wanderers Rally dug a big hole or else these coins would not have been found !
He actually is quoted as saying that he had been digging for 20 minutes before he found the coins. Can you imagine the size of the hole ?
I admit huge holes are not favourable but sometimes essential for the "benefit of archaeology".

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:08 pm
by geoffb
Wansdyke44 wrote:
geoffb wrote:"5000 Saxon Coin Hoard Found In Bucks"
Its a good job Paul Coleman of the Weekend Wanderers Rally dug a big hole or else these coins would not have been found !
He actually is quoted as saying that he had been digging for 20 minutes before he found the coins. Can you imagine the size of the hole ?
I admit huge holes are not favourable but sometimes essential for the "benefit of archaeology".
Yeah, and look at the hail of flak that has caused on certain well known "blog" sites... 8-|
I do not know which blog site you are referring to so I cannot comment about it.
However, I will say, I would take as much flak as you like if I had found such an important hoard as this one.

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:27 pm
by littleboot
I was watching a Time Team the other day....and the inevitable JCB did the initial 'dig'. (Imagine the reaction if we dug holes like that? x; ) It was all too clear, that the bones of the skeletons they uncovered had been damaged...not by the plough but by the JCB during its scrape. Not that they admitted as much. Slicing a skull in half with the bucket of a JCB on one programme makes rather a mockery of poking around a skull with an artists modelling tool to remove the muck a grain at a time and then wrapping in plastic etc with 'will it/won't it disintegrate when we move it' tension on another.

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:40 pm
by muddy fingers
mypic saxon.JPG
Regarding the "size of the hole" I took this photo of the Saxon hoard in situ AFTER it had been professionally excavated by the FLO with the finder's assistance.A layer of lead had been removed from on top of the hoard and around it by this time. The FLO commented on the fact that the finder had dug such a small hole width wise when she first arrived at the scene. What you see in the photograph is the result of the archaeological excavation that subsequently took place under her direction. That resulted in firstly, the hole being considerably widened and secondly, being deepened in order to gain access to the hoard itself, so that it could be lifted out. The finder only uncovered the very top layer of the hoard initially and this did not necessitate digging into the brown coloured subsoil, as the picture on close examination will show. I think from what I read of Paul's account of the day that the length of time (20mins?) that it took him to reach the top of the hoard because he was only able to extract small amounts soil at a time from the narrow opening that he had dug.

As you say, Wansdyke44, the things that metal detectorists seek are most likely to be in the top 10" anyway. Anything embedded in the "undisturbed" layer beneath the plough line for a detector to be able signal on it would have to be the size of something like a hoard and this is where the finders are supposed to, and do, call in the help of their local FLOs. Using the kind of imagery used by our detractors and to worry that detectorists might, "go tunneling about and making huge holes everywhere" presents an unrealistic and alarmist picture of what our hobby is about.

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:07 pm
by geoffb
Well,,, according to some detectorists, they, (archaeolists) can dig big holes, using JCBs because they are qualified. While we amateur detectorists should be supervised while we dig holes over a certain size because it might throw the hobby into disrepute. I've never heard such rubbish in all my life.
If afterwards, the holes were not filled in correctly, then I would agree.
Perhaps courses should be set up on "how to dig a hole without supervision" being established in order that we mere mortals do not overstep the mark on depth and circumference !.

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:26 pm
by littleboot
Agree entirely Geoff. And, as hotmill mentions above, Archeologists couldn't manage to extract Richard III without striking his skull with a pick axe and dragging his legs with the digger. Only imagine the reaction if an 'amateur' had done such a thing!!

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:36 pm
by Wansdyke44
muddy fingers wrote:
mypic saxon.JPG
Regarding the "size of the hole" I took this photo of the Saxon hoard in situ AFTER it had been professionally excavated by the FLO with the finder's assistance.A layer of lead had been removed from on top of the hoard and around it by this time. The FLO commented on the fact that the finder had dug such a small hole width wise when she first arrived at the scene. What you see in the photograph is the result of the archaeological excavation that subsequently took place under her direction. That resulted in firstly, the hole being considerably widened and secondly, being deepened in order to gain access to the hoard itself, so that it could be lifted out. The finder only uncovered the very top layer of the hoard initially and this did not necessitate digging into the brown coloured subsoil, as the picture on close examination will show. I think from what I read of Paul's account of the day that the length of time (20mins?) that it took him to reach the top of the hoard because he was only able to extract small amounts soil at a time from the narrow opening that he had dug.

As you say, Wansdyke44, the things that metal detectorists seek are most likely to be in the top 10" anyway. Anything embedded in the "undisturbed" layer beneath the plough line for a detector to be able signal on it would have to be the size of something like a hoard and this is where the finders are supposed to, and do, call in the help of their local FLOs. Using the kind of imagery used by our detractors and to worry that detectorists might, "go tunneling about and making huge holes everywhere" presents an unrealistic and alarmist picture of what our hobby is about.
I was replying to the initial post, which was talking about digging below the plough line. I was not being alarmist or unrealistic, and wasn't expecting my reply to be taken literally. Littleboot was correct in who I was referring to, if you want to attract attention then that is up to you.

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:56 pm
by muddy fingers
littleboot wrote:Agree entirely Geoff. And, as hotmill mentions above, Archeologists couldn't manage to extract Richard III without striking his skull with a pick axe and dragging his legs with the digger. Only imagine the reaction if an 'amateur' had done such a thing!!
Are all the people you see digging and scraping on an "archaeological dig" really fully trained and qualified professionals or are they mostly students on work experience courses? The Archaeology magazines have many adverts from Universities offering such courses to students. Also, particularly in the summer months, there are many "field work projects" organised by various parties which are open to anyone on payment of £10 for "dig only" or "£70 for dig plus training". The only stipulation is that if unaccompanied you are 16 or over.

I am wondering what classes you as an "amateur" in all of this- presumably it is just the people with metal detectors who must be described in this way, as opposed to those equipped with trowels and pick axes who must by virtue be the professionals? ,':|

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:25 pm
by littleboot
Haha , yes. Very true. I also cannot be alone in offering a wry smile in response to landlords and Public bodies who ban detecting and people digging small holes with a spade....on land regularly turned over and churned up by what is effectively Heavy Plant and Earthmoving equipment.

I wonder if other people share the vibe that the sniffy attitude to the tool of the 'amateur' has meant archaeology has not fully embraced and explored the possibility of the technology. Some archies still persist in seeming shockingly ignorant of detectors and their capabilities and method of operation.

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:42 pm
by frogeye
If you have permission then dig as deep as you like ::g ::g
The Lenborough hoard must have been in disturbed soil otherwise it would never have been there. Disturbed when the hoard was deposited.

The armchair blog Troll will never be happy its the Nature of the beast init ! :))

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:51 pm
by Allectus
frogeye wrote:If you have permission then dig as deep as you like ::g ::g
The Lenborough hoard must have been in disturbed soil otherwise it would never have been there. Disturbed when the hoard was deposited.

The armchair blog Troll will never be happy its the Nature of the beast init ! :))
Too right Frogeye, spot on mate. Also, the deeper that big ol' plough goes the better imo! :)) ::g


A ;)

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:13 pm
by vikingwarrior
I remember starting up a similar chat on this subject last year, all sorts of controversay it caused, im of the mind, i will dig till i find the target, 1 foot 3 foot 5 foot, till i get to that signal im gonna dig dig dig all the way to ausyland x; how riled would you be if ya stoped digging then find out a year down the line that a hoard was found in that area? Would you regret not diggin past the said plough line? Im responsible when out, i fill my holes and take my finds, rubbish included, job done ::g
V.W

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:44 pm
by Titus Pantus
vikingwarrior wrote:I remember starting up a similar chat on this subject last year, all sorts of controversay it caused, im of the mind, i will dig till i find the target, 1 foot 3 foot 5 foot, till i get to that signal im gonna dig dig dig all the way to ausyland x; how riled would you be if ya stoped digging then find out a year down the line that a hoard was found in that area? Would you regret not diggin past the said plough line? Im responsible when out, i fill my holes and take my finds, rubbish included, job done ::g
V.W
Absolutely with you on this ::g

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:57 pm
by Rabray
This post made very interesting reading ::g ::g

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:15 pm
by Blueboy
Done Glen. ::g

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:05 pm
by muddy fingers
I wonder how much soil levels in the UK have actually risen over the past ten years? No more stubble burning - all that's now ploughed in, as we know, together with any grass that grew on it. Additionally, we now have an inch or so of the dreaded green waste put on the fields and about three inches of manure. When all of this does eventually break down it must add considerably to the soil level of the fields. Those hoards that were buried a thousand years ago are therefore surely deeper than they were ten years ago and increasingly getting out of range of most detectors. Even a horse drawn plough from the old days used to sometimes bring an ancient hoard to light, whereas nowadays it would require the special sub-soiler that the farmer's use to stand a chance of doing that.

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:35 pm
by geoffb
muddy fingers wrote:
littleboot wrote:Agree entirely Geoff. And, as hotmill mentions above, Archeologists couldn't manage to extract Richard III without striking his skull with a pick axe and dragging his legs with the digger. Only imagine the reaction if an 'amateur' had done such a thing!!
Are all the people you see digging and scraping on an "archaeological dig" really fully trained and qualified professionals or are they mostly students on work experience courses? The Archaeology magazines have many adverts from Universities offering such courses to students. Also, particularly in the summer months, there are many "field work projects" organised by various parties which are open to anyone on payment of £10 for "dig only" or "£70 for dig plus training". The only stipulation is that if unaccompanied you are 16 or over.

I am wondering what classes you as an "amateur" in all of this- presumably it is just the people with metal detectors who must be described in this way, as opposed to those equipped with trowels and pick axes who must by virtue be the professionals? ,':|
Yeah right,!!!!!!!! I'm really going to pay 70 quid for someone to teach me to dig a hole.

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:38 am
by Titus Pantus
At the end of the day, with all the development that takes place, is it not worth digging however deep you have to in order to retrieve the past before it is gone forever? What will you do when there are new homes on that land?

Re: The Plough Line

Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:01 am
by Egral
In my opinion, it's who ever decided that it's ok to dig down to 'The Plough Line' ...... WTH is the plough line????? Why so vague??? Just say it's ok to dig down to 12 inches or what ever and stop all conflicts. It isn't difficult, is it?

Plus,whatever depth it used to be, should now be changed to accommodate new, modern sized 'Ploughs.'

Jobsagoodun ::g