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Digging equipment

Posted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:05 pm
by Wessexlad
Out yesterday on my permission for the second time. There were almost two months between visits, both times (i.e. before and after the hot spell) the first four inches or so were easy to dig, but below that the soil is hard packed and sandy, with fairly large flint pebbles. I'd dig a plug maybe 10" to 12" square, but after that it's quite difficult to get the spade in, so I used a trowel to go deeper. The problem is, the deeper I go the narrower the hole gets, and in trying to scrape away the soil there's a danger that I'd damage any object that might be down there.

My question is, what would be the best equipment to use in these circumstances? The spade and trowel I use didn't cost a lot but they're pretty robust and would be fine in softer soil. Can anyone recommend something that might cut through harder packed soil?

Re: Digging equipment

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2018 11:24 am
by Steve_T
That's where a pinpointer comes in handy, narrow down you items location, desensitise the pinpointer to work out size and location and dig carefully.

If your holes that big at the top should be able to loosen it enough to get out with your your spade to a decent depth of around a good 16 inches, follow the outline of the hole downwards, your digging stuff out not planting carrots, loosen the rest on the bottom edges and remove with your hand, shimples.......

I've dug post holes to around 24 inches in a 12 inch square with a spade but still scoop stuff out with my hands

Regards Steve

Re: Digging equipment

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:42 pm
by Oxgirl36

Re: Digging equipment

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:02 pm
by Shaneb3
I'm currently using a trenching spade in heavy flint clay. The narrow blade means you can keep the hole fairly small in diameter but get down as deep as needed. I'm sure a pinpointer would help as Steve suggests but I've just been pinpointing with the detector with a large 15" coil without problems (so far rl; ). I also do as Steve suggests and loosen a little of the bottom and remove by hand and repeat. I probably wouldn't get very far without sole protection in my boots though ::g

Re: Digging equipment

Posted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:34 am
by f8met
I use a roughneck from all good DIY stores. I was a bit reluctant as they look quite flimsy and I only got one as I left my black ada at home. This summer the roughneck has come into its own in the solid ground.I managed to bend the black ada but although it flexes, the roughneck held its own. ... t/p/139275

or their own brand ... l/p/167380

I find that if you dig into the side of the hole and try to widen it inside to loosen the earth, and then use your hands making sure keep well away from the find, you can get it out without hitting it.

Re: Digging equipment

Posted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 2:58 pm
by Bradrick
My pasture sounds similar to yours, with an initial depth of soil to about 4 inches, followed by hard compact stones/flint. I use one of the joan allen yellow jobbies. It does the job and I prefer a narrow blade (I tend to dig a 4 inch plug of around 6 inches square), but I'm sure there are better ones. I did use a Black Ada trowel to get through the hard stuff and it was pretty good, but I often found really stubborn large stones that I struggled to winkle out due to the width of the blade. I now have a Garratt edge digger and it is great for the job. If the pp shows that the target is in the side walls the serrated edge makes short work of it and the point is ideal for prising the stones out.