Detectorist Paul gets a historic seal of approval

An intricate silver seal dating back over 300 years that was found in a field in Wrexham during a charity treasure hunt could soon go on display in a museum.

The seal would have been used to stamp wax on letters and has pictures of a bouquet of flowers on one side and a bull on the other.

It was found by detectorist Paul Davies on farmland owned by the Wrexham-based care organisation, Pendine Park.

The seal has now been declared to be treasure and will be offered to Wrexham Museum, where the public would be able to view it.

It was unearthed after Paul spotted a glint of metal in the soil. “You get to know what really old metal looks like after a while and as this had a distinctive bluish tinge that I recognised as silver,” he said.

“I think these types of seal, which swivel around, were produced in numbers around 300 years ago. It’s not hugely valuable, but it is a little bit of local history.”

Paul was one of 40 enthusiasts to take part in the metal detector event at Pendine Farm on Summerhill Road.

Each had made a small donation to the Alzheimer’s Society as a thank you to the landowners, Mario Kreft MBE and his wife, Gill.

Paul, who is a member of Wrexham Metal Detecting Club, explained that the Pendine Farm field had been the perfect spot to scour for antiquities.

“Ideally, you need a field near a footpath, a church or pub, somewhere people would visit. And you would want that field to be ploughed regularly over the years, to turn things up,” he said.

“We call it dirt fishing, because you’re never sure what will bite at the end.”

Many of the finds unearthed by Paul and his fellow detectorists have been sent to Wrexham Museum for display to the public. But he warned that it was becoming more and more difficult for the club to get on land.

“Many new groups have formed in the last couple of years, charging large sums of money to people with metal detectors who join a search.

“The problem is, anything unearthed tends to go back with the finders, whereas we regard it as a bit of history for the area and it always goes back to the landowner.”

Also taking part on the day was Peter Williams who hit the headlines in 2002 when he and his fellow detectorist, Mike Sheen when they came across a hoard of bronze and gold dating back to between 1,000 and 800 BC.

The Bronze Age find near Rossett included gold bracelet fragments, a bronze axe and dagger.

This time Peter struck lucky again when he uncovered the 1572 hammered sixpence coin, dating from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, a foot down in a recently ploughed field at Pendine Farm.

Other discoveries included a Roman fibula brooch used to fasten garment and pot legs dating back to medieval times.

He said at the time: “Summerhill and Wrexham would have looked very different in Tudor times than today. I just enjoy that sense of history.

“Summerhill would almost certainly have been farmland and the fields were probably used mainly for grazing. Who knows who it was that owned and lost the coin all those centuries ago.

“Life for the average Tudor citizen would have been pretty tough. Hard work was the order of the day with agriculture the primary industry.

“Elizabeth I was the last Tudor monarch and was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She was known as the Virgin Queen.”

He added: “I love metal detecting it really gets you hooked. Finding the Rossett Hoard was beginners luck but I’ve had lots of good finds over the years.

“The main issue is getting permission of landowners to go onto the land in the first place. We don’t cause any damage and replace any soil or grass we dig. Most objects are within 12 or 18 inches of the surface.

“As a club we are responsible and ensure all finds of significance are reported. Any find of two coins or more that are made from precious metals such as gold and silver must be reported.”

Speaking on behalf of Pendine Park, artist in residence Sarah Edwards said she was surprised and impressed at the number of antiquities found during one day’s search.

“It’s amazing to think that these objects that have been found, the seal, the sixpence and the brooch, have all once been cherished by people living right here, all those centuries ago.

“It’s an insight into the everyday lives of our ancestors. And of course, it was an event that helped to raise money for a charity which is close to our hearts here at Pendine Park.”

Wrexham Metal Detecting Club is now looking for new sites search and Paul urges any landowners who might be interested in hosting a dig to get in touch.

“It’s such a thrill when you unearth a find,” he said

“I think when you’ve got your hands on history it makes it more real somehow. I wasn’t a fan of history at school, but since becoming a detectorist, I find history so much more exciting.”

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