Dead Dole

With much of the locale under crop at the moment there is little opportunity to explore the local fields. However, I managed to get out this Saturday afternoon and made the long walk down to the Bourn Brook to a field which is under grass (and thistels !).

Dr Susan Oosthuizen has managed to piece together some place name evidence of the local fields and the one I visited is recorded as Dead Dole. In one of her articles she postulated that the field may have got its name from the discovery of human remains. Hoping for a Saxon or Roman cemetery I began to sweep the northern edge of the field but found only nails and barbed wire.  Moving to the NE edge of the field I picked up a large number of iron signals, and despite the ground being rock hard dug each of the signals.

The usual detritus appeared, pieces of chain, bits of plough and a variety of odd and unidentifiable pieces of iron blades. I then came across what I can only describe as a miniature horse shoe. It measures 1.5 inches in length and 1.25 inches in width. Whilst obviously heavily corroded I cannot determine if there are any holes in it for fake nails. I am sure a farmer would be able to go “Oh that’s a nnnnn”, but its looks to me for all the world like  a blacksmith has made a miniature horse shoe – maybe as a lucky charm? What do you think?

Horse Shoe

Within the next four or five paces I then found what I believe to be an iron arrow head. Its an inch long and half an inch wide. I have cleaned out the socket and whilst some of this has perished it certainly lends one to see how it could have been hafted onto a wooden arrow. From what I can deduce so far it appears to be a “leaf broadhead” type of arrow, however I will have to confirm the identification with my local FLO (Finds Liaison Officer). If I am right however, it makes the identification of the field as “Dead Dole” even more intriguing as the the Broadhead Arrow according to my research was usually only used in battle….

Broadheads were used for war and are still used for hunting. Medieval broadheads could be made from steel, sometimes with hardened edges. They usually have two to four sharp blades that cause massive bleeding in the victim. Their function is to deliver a wide cutting edge so as to kill as quickly as possible. They are expensive, damage most targets, and usually not used for practice.

Iron Arrow Head (Medieval)

The most easily identifiable object however is shown below – as soon as I pulled it from the ground I knew what is was, the hammer, jaw screw and jaws of a flintlock musket. Again, found within six or so paces from the arrow head and “horse shoe”.

FlintlockThe piece is just a smidge over three inches long, and whilst corroded in pretty good nick really. Now for the tricky part, how old is it? Well so far all I have been able to determine is that the flintlock musket was in use from the 16th right through to the 19th century, so until I get an expert opinion on it I can’t be sure. It would be fascinating if the arrow and the flintlock mechanism were from the same date…perhaps a skirmish took place there with loss of life and the fact is recorded in the name: “Dead Dole”.

Update: “Silver Fox” from the UK Detector Finds Database, believes the musket is an 18th Century version and looks like it could be military in origin “as the cock does not have the quality of a sporting gun”. Furthermore, Pat Watson from the same site states: “Looks a lot like a hammer from a British made Brown Bess musket..…”


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