Sunday, September 22, 2013

Back to Basics - Detecting a Snow Camp Homesite

The last several months have been full of changes in my personal and professional life, leaving precious little time for the long distance full-day detecting trips I was able to go on last year.  So last week I got "back to basics" in the way I began relic hunting - searching old homesites in Alamance County.  I was invited by DS reader Mike to search an old homeplace in Snow Camp with him.  Built in the 1840's, now only the building's tall chimney stacks remain in a grassy field.

My favorite find of the day was this large flat button in excellent condition, with the shank still attached and standing straight.  Buttons of this type were typical of clothing in the early to mid 1800's.  Markings on the back often indicated the button manufacturer or the quality of the gilding applied to the button.  This button has a clear backmark reading simply "GILT", meaning the button once had a thin coating of gold when it was new to make it shiny and bright.  I always enjoy finding flat buttons, and this one is a very nice example of a typical mid 19th century button.

Towards the end of our short hunt I got a strong signal that kept going down, down, down.  Black charcoal indicated the presence of a fire-pit.  With Mike's help we were able to unearth the original signal - a simply massive iron pot lid!  Note the modern penny in the picture for size reference!

A number of smaller metal and non-metal targets surfaced from the pit as well.  These included pieces of broken crockery and china, the neck from a small glass bottle, several square nails, and a silver washed copper disc.  I suspect that this may be a pocket watch back, although I'm not entirely sure.  One of the most useful item for dating the time-frame of the original burn pit was an intact bullet and casing.  I am fairly certain that it is a 22 LR, which would date the pit to absolutely no earlier than the development date of that round in 1887.  The 22 LR is still incredibly popular, and is the most common bullet in terms of units sold to this day.  I'm still not entirely sure how old the fire-pit is, but I would guess somewhere in the early 1900's.  We barely scratched the surface before it was time to get back to work - perhaps you'll see an update someday if we decide to go back and dig it out properly.  Thanks for the invite, Mike, and for a fun day out saving some history!

I have a few interesting relic hunts planned for the fall, so with any luck I should have some more cool finds to show you soon.  I was also recently selected to attend the Fall 2013 "Diggin' in Virginia" events in November of this year.  Regular readers will recognize the name, but for those who don't, DIV is an invitational relic hunt and gathering at well documented Civil War camp sites in Northern Virginia.  Which reminds me - I finally completed video editing for DIV's XXII and XXIII.  Check it out below!  And as always, thanks for reading and God Bless!

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