What at first appeared to be just another annoying telemarketer call, actually turned out to be a lady in distress. Lady Alexia was the unfortunate soul who had lost a ring while attending a reenactment at the Ridley Creek State Park Colonial Plantation the weekend prior. Alexia had worn one of her favorite rings and to her dismay, had lost it on the last day while helping to pack the group’s camp site.
After she described the area and her confidence that it was lost there, I knew that the odds were in our favor for a recovery. We made an arrangement to meet that coming Saturday, as the sooner we look for it the better… plus I could tell that she was very anxious to find her ring. To my surprise, Alexia lived in Manhattan and would have to take off a day from work, in order to make this journey. She also asked if I could pick her up from the local train station, I obliged and was impressed with the trust she had in strangers.
Prior to my search, Alexia contacted the Park and secured permission for me to search the area with a metal detector. Since this is a historical site, I made sure to enforce the fact that I would not be digging any holes during my search. Since the ring was lost very recently, it would be a surface recovery and no need for any penetrations. The State Park management granted us permission, with the understanding that if any other items/artifact were found during my search that I would give them to the Park.
I met Alexia at the local train station that Saturday around noon. The weather had taken a turn for the worse; it reminded me of an Islay scotch. It was overcast, with patches of light rain, cooler and windy! I could smell the damp peat and taste the salty sea. Ok, maybe the peat and the salt was the Talisker still lingering on my palate, but it was a typical Scottish day (from what I hear). 🙂 As we drove to the park I learned that Alexia is in the jewelry business, she is a gemologist. The lost ring was part of her jewelry collection; it was a 15th century English posy ring with the inscription “NUL AUTRE” on the inside. It was originally found by a metal detectorist in England and then sold under the Treasure Act of 1996.
When we arrived at the field, I recognized that the area was large than estimated. I would take me the rest of the day to search, but fortunately, it was all low grass, so that was a pleasure to work with. We had a brief chat about what occurred in the different parts of the field and then I was ready to start the search.
I use little orange flags to mark my search grid and spots of interest, this way I make sure that there are no overlaps or missed spots and I can come back later to investigate the “good hits.” I did have two great sounding hits, with a high likelihood of them being older silver coins; it was so hard not to check them. Yet since they were a few inches down, I could not dig a plug, a promise is a promise… but it was so tempting.
I was a few hours into my search and hope was fading fast. I had searched the most probably areas with two more smaller spots to check, the archery area and where Alexia had dropped some swords. The archery area search did not produce anything. With failure on my mind, I told her that I could come back with a friend to try one more time the following week. I was really impressed with her attitude, as she said that it is ok, because she tried her best to find her ring. This made me feel better, because I gave it my best also.
The last small 10′ x 10′ area is where Alexia first noticed that her ring was missing. She said that she had put down some swords by the vehicles when – to her horror – her prized possession was missing. And at this very spot I had a clear hit, it was perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. As I squatted down and moved the grass to the side I saw the yellowish glint of gold that every treasure hunter dreams of. I immediately knew by the beautiful diagonal design that this was Alexia’s. I was so happy, that I couldn’t contain myself and had to exclaim our find! I was amazed at the beauty and sheer weight of this ring – it is an exquisite piece of jewelry! This is definitely the nicest and most valuable – monetarily speaking – ring that I had found so far.
She was VERY happy – it made my day. On the way back to the car, she made the comment that the ring, which was originally found by a metal detectorist in England, was found again by a metal detectorist.
Not only did Alexia give a very generous reward, but she also bought lunch as we waited at the local pub for her train to arrive. The reward came in handy, because on that day I had to replace my washing machine.