Unearthing history is all part of the retired life

A detectorist since 1975, Mal lives with his wife in a small village outside Oxford in the UK, surrounded by beautiful countryside steeped in history going back to the Iron Age. As our November Detectorist of the Month, Mal shares how he got into detecting – and some of his most fascinating finds. 

Who or what inspired you to get into detecting? 

I was first introduced to metal detecting by a stranger, who I watched in a field next to where I was fishing. He was walking about strangely with this flying saucer on the end of a metal pole, and every now and then he dug a hole and put what he found in his pocket. 

Curiosity got the better of me, and I wandered across to see what he was doing. He said he was hunting for old coins, and he brought out of his pocket an assortment of old pennies and half pennies he had found. I was hooked (excuse the pun), fishing forgotten, and went about finding out where to buy one of these strange machines. 

I eventually tracked down a store that sold them in Liverpool and bought one of these strange devices. Off I went to a friend whose father ran the local Public House. I searched the garden to see what I could find, and this created quite a stir with the regulars – me walking up and down with a strange device attached to some headphones on my head. They watched with great amusement and wanted to know what I was doing. The clever ones threw pennies in front of me to see if I could find them. I did and just stuck them in my pocket. The upshot was that I found an Edward VII penny dated 1901, and still use this as a ball marker when I am playing golf.


When did you first use your Coiltek coil? 

As technology progressed over the years, I upgraded my detectors and then switched to Minelab with the Explorer XS, SE, ETrac and now the CTX3030 and predominantly the Equinox 800. 

My first experience of Coiltek was buying the 15” (WOT-Wild Orange Thing) coil for my Minelab. This coil was a real eye opener for depth on my hunts – especially the beach. Now I use the Equinox 800 with the Coiltek 10×5”, 14×9” and my favourite coil, the 15”. 

Beach hunting, I try to get in the water at the beach as regularly as the water temperature allows. I have had many rings and other jewellery items from the beach over the years. I tend to spend about 50/50 of my detecting time searching beaches, and as my in-land sites are all farmland, they tend to be searched during harvest time. 

Unfortunately, you really must work the beaches in the UK as they do not seem to have the same bling bling losses that our detecting buddies across the pond in the U.S. are fortunate to have…but I do find them.


What have been your best finds so far? 

Some of my best finds are a rare Edward the Confessor 1062-1065 silver penny minted at Wareham. This is a very rare coin, and I was fortunate to win the “Find of the Rally” prize with this find. 

On another site I found an extremely rare gold “Tring Wheel” quarter stater of the North Thames Celtic tribe c.55-45 B.C. It’s one of only twelve known, and this is the number one for condition. 

I used the 15” coil to good effect on a so-called worked out rally field last year, and the photo shows what can be achieved with this coil and the Equinox 800 in combination. 

My latest finds are a nice example of a half groat of Henry VIII 1526-32, and another both found with the 10×5” Coiltek coil and the Equinox 800. 

Minelab detectors are the best I have used, and now with the Equinox 800 and my Coiltek coils, I will continue with seeking out the rare finds. I hope the great finds keep coming.

How has detecting benefitted your lifestyle? 

I just love this hobby, adding items from the past and present to my collection that is growing all the time. I try to get out at least twice a week. I am glad I retired early in life to have enough time for this great hobby. Also being retired it’s great exercise and gets me out and about in the great outdoors.


What advice would you give someone to get started? 

One bit of advice to new or other detectorists is that it’s a hobby that cannot be rushed and not “get rich quick”. You need to learn your 

detector, what its limits are, and use the correct swing technique and settings for your permission.  

Most importantly, do your site research for success. There are many quiet spots, and with research you can home into any potential “hot spots” and not waste time on the barren areas. 

Finally, just enjoy the hobby and don’t get too fixated on finding items, as they will come with research and patience.


Any last words?

You’ll find me as an admin and regularly contributing on many of the detecting Facebook groups with many other like-minded folk. 

I hope that all you have the success that I have had searching, and I hope you have many great finds over the years to come using your Coiltek coils as I do.