Go out and find stuff much?

for matters relating to archaeological and historical dowsing.

Go out and find stuff much?

Postby Ian Pegler » Sat Nov 11, 2006 9:52 am

The other day I was reminded how the late Guy Underwood once discovered a golden "sun disc" at Jug's Grave near Conkwell. I was also thinking about Major J. Scott Elliot who went out dowsing for previously undiscovered archaeological sites and actually dug them up himself (with permission from the land owner of course) - successfully I might add.

These days archaeologists fly around in aeroplanes looking for crop marks in fields, as well as using other modern methods like geophysical scans.

However, some time ago I read that today, over 95% of all archaeological finds are made by metal-detector enthusiasts - 400,000 archaeological objects per year.

On the face of it, this doesn't say much for dowsing, but I wonder, how many dowsers are out there, on their own, dowsing and finding stuff (i.e. not just dowsing it, but actually confirming it)?

I suspect the answer is not very many. Dowsers seem to go out in groups, rather than individually, as part of a social group-event to a nice location, get a few reactions from their rods and then go home.

They don't behave like metal-detector enthusiasts, going round farms and asking the farmer for permission to trudge around his recently ploughed field in a pair of wellies, although there are metal detector enthusiasts who use dowsing in conjunction with metal-detecting.

Are we afraid to get our hands (and feet) dirty?

The Arch SIG is spending a lot of time and effort trying to woo archaeologists and persuading its members that they need to verify results by some means, either geophysical scans or by excavation, before approaching archaeologists.

However, this results in a vicious circle. Most archaeological dowsers are not qualified to do their own digging. Furthermore, even if you can get your dowsing confirmed by geophysics, the chances are it'll be some underground feature that the archaeologists already know about. Worse still is the fear archaeologists have of being ridiculed by their own peers, and of losing status as a result.

Is there a case, therefore, for archaeological dowsers to behave more like metal-detectorists, if they're serious about what they do?

Your thoughts please.

Ian
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Postby William Holding » Wed Nov 15, 2006 8:57 pm

:) Hi Ian.

Differentiating between Dowsers & Metal Detectorists, if that's the right terminology, is, in my opinion, like trying to work out the difference between 2 glasses of good wine. Their both made of the same stuff but quite different in many ways.

I live in the country and often encounter metal detector people searching fields etc. What motivates many of them to search areas, I believe, is the opportunity to sell the found objects and gain financial reward.

I think you would be pleasantly surprised how many people 'get out there by themselves' and dowse. I for one am investigating the battle of Towton, York's, and have been to the site several times to research the area etc. Oh yes, I did get my wellies wet and dirty!!

You stated that "Dowsers seem to go out in groups, rather than individually, as part of a social group-event to a nice location, get a few reactions from their rods and then go home". Surely you are underestimating peoples abilities?

I am sure there are many others doing their own thing but they like to keep themselves to themselves.

Thought you would like to hear my thoughts on this matter.

Kind regards.

Bill.
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But have you FOUND anything?

Postby Ian Pegler » Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:51 pm

William Holding wrote::) Hi Ian.

Differentiating between Dowsers & Metal Detectorists, if that's the right terminology, is, in my opinion, like trying to work out the difference between 2 glasses of good wine. Their both made of the same stuff but quite different in many ways.

I live in the country and often encounter metal detector people searching fields etc. What motivates many of them to search areas, I believe, is the opportunity to sell the found objects and gain financial reward.


Hi Bill

I too live in the country, but that's an asside.

At this point I want to talk a bit about the UK Treasure Act.

The Treasure Act of 1996 replaced the common law of Treasure Trove. Basically it says that if you find Treasure (as defined by the Act) or something you believe to be Treasure you MUST report it (there's more information on this site, scroll down to the section on the Treasure Act). It is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE in the U.K. not to report the discovery of treasure.

At this point metal detectorists generally fall into one of two types: those who usually obey the law and behave responsibly according to the code of conduct and the ones that operate outside the law (the "night-hawks").

Both kinds can make money but in different ways. However, I suggest it would be an over-simplification to think that all metal-detectorists are purely motivated by money, but that's another asside.


I think you would be pleasantly surprised how many people 'get out there by themselves' and dowse.


Then SURPRISE ME, folks. In forty years of living in rural Wales I have not once bumped into a dowser crossing a ploughed field in search of Roman coins or other portable antiquities.

I have seen metal detectorists at work though.

I for one am investigating the battle of Towton, York's, and have been to the site several times to research the area etc. Oh yes, I did get my wellies wet and dirty!!


Let me be the first to congratulate you Bill, on getting your wellies dirty.

Ah, but did you FIND anything? And by "find", I mean finding an object such as a Roman coin, retrieving it and reporting it. If so, what have you FOUND, RETRIEVED AND REPORTED? Or, alternatively, have you found underground features such as ancient wall foundations or ditches, which have been subsequently confirmed by excavation or geophysics or some other means?

You stated that "Dowsers seem to go out in groups, rather than individually, as part of a social group-event to a nice location, get a few reactions from their rods and then go home". Surely you are underestimating peoples abilities?


It's not a question of ability, it's a question of method. I am suggesting a much more hands-on approach than typically happens on local group field trips, where digging doesn't happen, and to be honest, neither does any subsequent confirmation a lot of the time.

Most of the reports in the Arch. SIG section of Dowsing Today concern work done at known archaeological sites, and/or work done in conjunction with archaeologists. NONE of these are relevant to the question I am posing because the dowsers are not working alone, and most of the finds that have been confirmed are not the kind of things a metal detectorist would find - they are not portable antiquities like Roman coins.

Since the inception of the Arch. SIG, to date, precisely ONE notable portable antiquity has been found and reported in the pages of Dowsing Today. This was the Roman Panther statuette reported in June 2005, and even then, it's not entirely clear from reading the report that it was found by dowsing.

People like to boast, it's only human nature. If there are dowsers out there finding artefacts such as Roman coins, sun-disks or whatever then for the good of dowsing if nothing else, why would these people not come forward?

Are all such dowsers "night-hawks"?

I am sure there are many others doing their own thing but they like to keep themselves to themselves.


This is nothing more than a statement of faith, I'm afraid.

Sorry, won't do.

For the purposes of promoting dowsing we need to see some evidence. Blind faith alone will not put one single photo on the cover of Dowsing Today.

To reitterate my original question:

I want to find out what dowsers think about my suggestion, that more archeology dowsers should operate like metal detectorists, i.e. walking ploughed fields in search of small artefacts, working away from archaeological digs, away from known sites and away from archaeologists and other dowsers.

Your thoughts please.

Ian
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Postby Keith » Sun Nov 19, 2006 2:55 pm

Why do we undertake archealogy dowsing. I think primarily it is the thrill offdiscovering something which nobody else has discovered.

I think it would be wrong to encourage dowsers who make such discoveries to take up the spade unless they are trained archaelogists. Just setting to and digging a mighty big hole or if you want to get in the mood, a trench, could be destroying history.

Archaelogy is not just digging up the odd pot or rod and carting it off to the local museum. There is a good deal of planning and preparation to be done before putting the spade to the earth and that includes research. Then there is the full recording of data related to the finds and the dig itself.

It is far better to work with archaelogists than going it alone and possibly destroying history although possibly going it alone might provide a greater thrill.

Personally I have come across Neolithic tombs, and monks dormitory "cells" and other finds and have always informed the local archaelogist dept. of the areas and positions. Needless to say funds have prevented depts. undertaking a dig but I was politely thanked for my interest and told I would be informed of developments.

Yes I know they could just think I am a crackpot but rather this than destroy our heritage.

Keith
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Mighty big holes?!?!

Postby Ian Pegler » Sun Nov 19, 2006 5:02 pm

Keith wrote:I think it would be wrong to encourage dowsers who make such discoveries to take up the spade unless they are trained archaeologists. Just setting to and digging a mighty big hole or if you want to get in the mood, a trench, could be destroying history.


Those metal detectorists who go by the metal detectorists' code of conduct don't dig "mighty big holes" or trenches. They walk along fields which have already been ploughed and the holes they dig are not supposed to go deeper than the cut of the plough. Thus any damage done would have most likely been caused by the farmer through the action of the plough. My suggestion is that dowsers could adopt a similar code of conduct to that used by metal detectorists and any damage done would be minimal.

I should also point out that there are non-invasive ways of finding out what lies beneath, such as geophysical scans, or even just conventional research.

We should indeed worry about the possibility of damage to archaeological sites. However, we should also worry about damage done to the reputation of dowsing through making statements to the general public and/or the authorities which have nothing whatsoever to back them up and which may be false.

Working with archaeologists would be great, but as cited in my original posting there are problems with this. Archaeologists are professional people and they just want to get on with the job. They already employ non-invasive methods such as geophysical scans which, while they are not 100% perfect, do show up subterranean features very well. Also they have to worry about their own reputations within the academic and professional spheres. They are hardly likely to ditch conventional techniques in favour of unconventional ones. Where does that leave the dowser?

Keith, have your local archaeological department ever followed up on any of the times you have reported your "finds" to them? Have you ever been informed of developments?

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Postby Keith » Sun Nov 19, 2006 6:26 pm

In the cases I mentioned they had already made visits to the places I had mentioned some years ago although I did not know this at the time.

The Dept told me that they had already surveyed the site but there was not enough funds to dig in that area and a more important area which was going to be developed for housing and offices.

When I said dig big holes or trenches I was thinking of archaeology where this does take place.

IAN WROTE

However, we should also worry about damage done to the reputation of dowsing through making statements to the general public and/or the authorities which have nothing whatsoever to back them up and which may be false.


Isn't this the case for most aspects of dowsing whether you tell a person to sink a bore hole in a particular place indicated by a water dowser or tell an archaelogist where post holes are located or even lost property. The best that can be done is that whatever we, the dowser say, it is based on a reasonable possibility that we are right This could be based on research which could be in historical, geological, enviromental or other fields.

I think that possibly there is a different approach between the metal detectors and the dowsing archaelogist in that the metal detectors are finding things for commercial reasons or just for a hobby whereas a the dowsing archaelogist is doing it to gain information, to aid an archaelogy dig whilst also doing it as a hobby. I don't know of any professional dowsing archaelogists and cetainly there is not a great deal of money to be made out of dowsing archaelogy. Even archaelogists are not well paid unless they are at the top of their league.


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Results, gentlemen...

Postby Ian Pegler » Mon Nov 20, 2006 9:13 am

Keith wrote:When I said dig big holes or trenches I was thinking of archaeology where this does take place.


Now I'm confused. Here's what you originally wrote:

Keith wrote:I think it would be wrong to encourage dowsers who make such discoveries to take up the spade unless they are trained archaelogists. Just setting to and digging a mighty big hole or if you want to get in the mood, a trench, could be destroying history.


To me it seems quite clear that you are directing your injunction towards dowsers who want to "take up the spade" themselves. Now you say you were refering to archaeologists?!?!


Keith wrote:
Ian wrote:However, we should also worry about damage done to the reputation of dowsing through making statements to the general public and/or the authorities which have nothing whatsoever to back them up and which may be false.


Isn't this the case for most aspects of dowsing whether you tell a person to sink a bore hole in a particular place indicated by a water dowser or tell an archaelogist where post holes are located or even lost property. The best that can be done is that whatever we, the dowser say, it is based on a reasonable possibility that we are right This could be based on research which could be in historical, geological, enviromental or other fields.


So did you do any research before you approached the Archaeology department?

Keith wrote:I think that possibly there is a different approach between the metal detectors and the dowsing archaelogist in that the metal detectors are finding things for commercial reasons or just for a hobby whereas a the dowsing archaelogist is doing it to gain information, to aid an archaelogy dig whilst also doing it as a hobby.


Here's something Sue Brown said in a recent letter published in Dowsing Today (Sept. '06):

Sue Brown wrote:... if a dowser gets a positive response using a water witness that suggest there MAY be water there. It does not provide EVIDENCE that water IS there. The only way to prove that the dowser has found water is to dig it up.


This neatly sums up my position. The notion that you gain information from the swing of an L-rod is misguided, IMHO. What you arrive at is a theory which needs to be confirmed. The dowsing rod suggests, it does not confirm.

I find it interesting that when comparison is made between archaeology dowsing and metal-detecting, this is done in terms of motivation and not in terms of results.

I am not interested in the motivation of metal detectorists. I am interested in whether systematically crossing a ploughed field with a rod might yield results for dowsing.

Has anyone tried operating in this way?

Ian
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Postby Keith » Mon Nov 20, 2006 3:26 pm

To clarify things I was saying that I do not advocate dowsers digging trenches of their own accord unless they are either an archaelogist or with an archaeology group when they come under the supervision of archaelogists.

On the two examples I gave, namely the neolithic tomb and the monks dormatories I had not done any research. In the former case I was on holiday and just visited a Neolithic tomb and wondered if there were more nearby and in the second case I was invited to teach at an old house which former Bishops and monks had used as a stop over place before going on to Hereford Cathederal.

In this case archaelogists had already done some excavation and had found two monks coffins. The thought just occurred to me that if monks visited the place in any number they have to sleep somewhere if not in the house. It was just a matter of curiosity as to first whether they slept in the house or had a different place to sleep in. It turned out there was a different place for the monks to sleep which I dowsed for and located.

On both occasions it was a spur of the moment thing and something on setting out from my home I had not thought about.

Often after these spur of the moment findings I will investigate the places to see if there is anything written about the place I had been. I know this is putting the cart before the horse but then these were spur of the moment thoughts.

I think we are dropping into the world of semantics. The police use information in their criminal investigations which have then to be confirmed. They are not dealing with theories.

However, I would go along with what Sue Brown wrote and if you like your interpretation that dowsing rods suggests, it does not confirm.

I used the words "to gain information" instead of "suggest" because in order to suggest you have to be able to say something about your subject matter ( give information )which can be acted upon or confirmed at a later date. Isn't the outcomes of these forms the same?
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"Dropping" into the world of semantics??

Postby Ian Pegler » Fri Nov 24, 2006 9:20 am

Keith wrote:I think we are dropping into the world of semantics.


Interesting turn of phrase, "dropping into the world of semantics".

I would have used the word moving rather than dropping.

This in itself amply illustrates the importance of semantics, not least because we always seem to end up having semantic debates, especially about the nature and definition of dowsing. If it was a trivial matter we would never bother with such things.

CLICK HERE for an example.

However, let's not "drop" into the world of semantics right now. There are more salient things to consider:

Keith wrote:To clarify things I was saying that I do not advocate dowsers digging trenches of their own accord unless they are either an archaelogist or with an archaeology group when they come under the supervision of archaelogists.


Okay, thanks for clearing that up.

However, correct me if I'm wrong here but our former society President J. Scott Elliot was at best trained informally, and Guy Underwood was a barrister (and town councillor) who did archaeology and dowsing as a hobby.

This begs the question, how trained does one have to be?

A second point is that is your ideal scenario requires some kind of structure to exist, within which the archaeology dowser must fit in. What do you do if this structure does not exist in your locality? Or if the structure exists but the archaeologists are hostile to dowsing?

Out of the four SIGs, the ADG is the only one that seems to think it is necessary to court mainstream academics. Why? Is it really because we're so afraid of "destroying history"? The whole process of archaeology is inherantly destructive, and JCBs are used all the time. How could anyone object to a dowser doing his own thing? Provided he acts responsibly any damage caused would be minimal, and tiny compared to the destructive action of a JCB.

Keith wrote:Often after these spur of the moment findings I will investigate the places to see if there is anything written about the place I had been. I know this is putting the cart before the horse but then these were spur of the moment thoughts.


I don't think this is putting the cart before the horse. I think it is a very good idea to dowse first and research later.

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Re: Go out and find stuff much?

Postby stephen » Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:20 pm

hi ian,
having recently joined this forum, i find it fascinating going through some of the old posts. then after brushing off the layers of dust from this almost 2 year posting, i feel i have some thing to contribute. however after the way bill and keith got hauled over the coals, i continue with trepidation :)

i do walk the fields, alone, with my rods and a trowel. i find artefacts, ok they are mainly roman sherds but exiting nevertheless. i have them examined by my local p.a.s officer (caroline johnson) who then verifies, photographs and duly submits them to a data base.

but on the darker side!, i operate one of those destructive 17 ton jcb's, destroyers of archealogical sites and harbinger of holes!. but its not all bad news :) my work is 90% rural so when i can i dowse around, if i find something worthwhile, i shave off 10mm at a time with the machine untill i get to hand diggable depth. even the biggest machines can have the touch of a midwife! its not all about rampaging across the countryside leaving mahem behind, and besides, it makes a nice change from dowsing the usual utilities, ( and hopping into my digger to verify)

on one occasion i found what appeared to be a new roman site and with the help of sue brown and michael guest (west mids) we organised a 'nice day out' with other adg members, see 'dowsing today' vol 41 no 296 june '07. we had a great day with of course differing opinions and methods which made for a lively de-brief!

so there you have it ian, theres at least one slogging around muddy fields with a pocket full of samien ware! hang on before you start, let me just get this chain mail on!

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Re: Go out and find stuff much?

Postby Keith » Thu Aug 28, 2008 12:10 am

Well what can I say. You have obviously read the digs Ian and myself had at each other and I still go along with what I had said.

I can't imagine your monster archaeological destructor just skimming off 10mm at a time. 10 cms maybe but even that is quite a feat.

Perhaps you might consider joining the Archaeological dowsers SIG.

Good luck with your finds. I hope you are recording where you found them just in case the place is worthy of further investigation by archaeologists.

Most of all have fun and enjoy these treks.

Keith
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Re: Go out and find stuff much?

Postby Helen-Healing » Thu Aug 28, 2008 11:59 am

Keith wrote:I can't imagine your monster archaeological destructor just skimming off 10mm at a time.

I struggled with that concept too! This is 10mm... ____ (1 cm)

This is a JCB!
Image

:shock:
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Re: Go out and find stuff much?

Postby griff » Thu Aug 28, 2008 3:11 pm

Get this. It quite possible for a highly skilled digger operator and an equally skilled plumber or banksman to mechanically excavate to within a half inch provided the machine is fairly new and hydraulically smooth running with no sloppy worn pins or spool valve linkages. The important thing is that the operator and the banksman can see the bottom of the dig and that there is adequate daylight.

Regards griff 8)
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Re: Go out and find stuff much?

Postby stephen » Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:53 pm

ha! thanks for your interest in the mechanical possibilities, and tolerances of an excavator, no i didnt make a mistake 10mm is perfectly possible, in fact its a requirement when working on some projects! oh and helen..... thats just a baby!

thanks for your comments keith, yes i have joined the arch' sig, but unfortunately theres not much happening with my local group, and as much as i enjoy my lone trecks, i have found the meets i have been to very interesting. i think the highlight for me was working alongside peter golding, what an absolute inspiration!

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Re: Go out and find stuff much?

Postby Helen-Healing » Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:34 am

I have removed the body of this post, as apparently it was taken as offensive although, god forbid, it was not meant to be..simply a small joke.

My apologies to the offended. I shall keep Image from now on.
Last edited by Helen-Healing on Sat Aug 30, 2008 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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