Ken’s latest Waltham finds

Some of Ken's more recent Waltham discoveries (not to scale).

Metal detectorist Ken Pritchett’s previous two-part story about his Waltham finds proved very popular. He now brings us up-to-date with his more recent finds:
My article on metal detecting finds, published recently on this website, was written several years ago. Since then I have returned many times to Waltham, where the surrounding fields have yielded up some more interesting finds.

In a field off the Bescaby Lane I unearthed a small, copper alloy, carved head about 2cm long, with two tiny blue glass beads inset for eyes. This would have been part of the ornamentation from a Medieval ‘Limoge’ casket. Under close examination, traces of the original gilding can still be seen.

From the same field, two 17th century trade tokens emerged. One was issued by Roger Waite of Melton Mowbray and dated 1666. The other token has a direct connection to Waltham. It was issued by Robert Noble of Waltham and carries the shield bearing nine cloves, which was the sign of The Worshipful Company of Grocers. The token is quite worn but the details can still be discerned from the illustrations.

Robert was probably an ancestor of George Noble who founded the village school in 1776. An almost spherical military button from the 19th century was also found in this field. At first I thought it was yet another musket ball, but when I removed the coating of mud, I uncovered the embossed crown and field gun of the Royal Artillery.

A rather special silver penny of Henry I, fourth son of William the Conqueror, came to light in a field off the Melton Road. I was pleased with this coin because it was minted at Leicester in 1123 by Chetel, who was the official moneyer there at that time. A few of these coins bear a ‘Romanised’ version of his name i.e. ‘Chitellvs’, and the coin found at Waltham is one of these.

During the reign of Henry I (1100 – 1135 ) there were well in excess of one hundred official mints throughout England, one in most of the main towns. Despite the severe penalties for forgery or the production of coins of poor quality and weight, the coinage had become rather poor and many coins, although struck at the official mints, were struck in base silver or of a low weight. This practice brought about the following entry being recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 1125.

‘In this year sent the King Henry, before Christmas, from Normandy to England and bade that all the mint-men that were in England should be mutilated in their limbs; that was, that they should lose each of them the right hand and their testicles beneath.

This was because the man that had a pound could not lay out a penny at a market. And the Bishop Roger of Salisbury sent over all England, and bade them all that they should come to Winchester at Christmas.

When they came thither then were they taken one by one and deprived each of the right hand and the testicles beneath. All this was done within the twelfth night. And that was all in perfect justice because that they had undone all the land with the great quantity of base coin that they all bought’.

Until I researched this penny I was totally unaware of this severe and gruesome punishment. This summary punishment is now known as “The assize of the moneyers”. I assume Mr Chetel was one of the guilty moneyers as his name has not been found on the following issue of pennies.

An interesting find was the jeton of Hans Krauwinckel which dates from 1580 to 1615. Jetons are often mistaken for coins, but they were used on checker counting boards to assist in mathematical calculations and sometimes used as gaming pieces. Similarly I found a copper model half sovereign bearing the young head of Queen Victoria.

Snatches of the bygone Waltham way of life were gently extricated from the fields in the form of various buckles from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, horse harness pendants and mounts, including a Medieval mount which would have adorned the harness on the horse of a ‘Yorkist’ supporter.

There were brooches, including a pheasant brooch, none of which retained any stones. How pretty they would have looked when in use. Part of a pocket calendar from the 17th or 18th century, two clog fasteners, a watch key, two small pan weights, and an Eley Bros rim fire cartridge end, which dated from around 1870, all added to this never ending story.

A reminder of the advancement in farming technology came in the form of a copper name plate of “Bamletts of Thirsk”, who produced their reliable grass mower and exported it worldwide. The business began around 1864 and finally closed around 1980.

A George III shilling, 1817, bent and damaged by the plough, came next. A Catholic religious pendant followed and, periodically, up popped a few more elaborate livery buttons, a sporting button depicting greyhounds, and a rather small, delicate filigree button with a carved head on it.

Mystery is never far away in this pastime, and it appeared once more when I unearthed a small button bearing the embossed names ‘ Maltby & Richardson’. Who were these people ? Was it the name of a charitable institution?

Children who received clothing from such charities often bore the name of their benefactor in some form on their apparel. As yet I do not know, but the soil around Waltham still holds many artefacts waiting to tell us just a little more of the way our ancestors lived.



  1. Richard Snodin (WLHG)

    Another great article from Ken, who continues to unearth our local history – which would otherwise be lost. We really must get Ken along to one of the Wotwata Local History Group meetings to give us a talk, and bring along his finds.

  2. Richard also sent a photo of a memorial to George Noble in Waltham Church who died in 1745. (Click here to view.) Amongst Ken’s finds is a trade token issued by Robert Noble in around 1660. Presumably George was his son.

  3. There are some more comments about the small carved head here.

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