Metal detecting 'an escape from pandemic stress'. Photo credit: BBC

Owen Thomas says metal detecting has been his escape from the stresses of the pandemic.

Meeting With An Old Friend As A Start

The writer from Tongwynlais, Cardiff started metal detecting after bumping into his long-time friend Bob Wiseman – an avid detectorist – during lockdown.

Aside from his first outing, when he followed his metal toe cap boots thinking he had found treasure, he has discovered artefacts dating back to the 13th Century.

Owen says he has fallen in love with his new-found hobby and it is “the link with a life that’s gone” that appeals to him so much.

Pandemic Stress Has Been Ended

Owen told that in that first lockdown he was walking the same sort of walks every day. As a result, the days began to blur and he just felt that he needed something else.

“In fact, with metal detecting you get that I’d say in terms of my mental health it’s been the real saver of this year! It’s the real link with a life that’s not with us anymore. That moment of who dropped this. Who, when and how they dropped this. All these thoughts… Some bespectacled bearded guy a thousand years later will find this in the middle of a field. Isn’t this just brilliant?”

First Time and First Fault

When the first time he went out with his daughter, they went up the woods. Owen turned a metal detector on and straight away it just started beeping. Other people who saw this, were shocked as well.

“We were like: oh, what we found, what we found? And then we walked 10 feet and it was still beeping. And then five minutes later we were like, perhaps, the detector’s broken. But then she said: I think you’ve got metal toe caps on and I was like: uh, yeah, yeah! So me and her we spent a good ten minutes just following my feet up and down the woods”

Finally they found some artefacts. One of them has a face on the front with a rather large headdress similar to King George III which would make it around about 1790. Owen thinks that it was a really nice find.

“I think like any metal detectorist. At the back of your mind you know that you’d like to find gold one day. People have lived on these fields and on these lands for hundreds and hundreds of years. And thankfully for people like us some of them are clumsy and they drop stuff. Hence, you just get to find the most amazing things.

If I could think of all the times in my life when I’ve walked up and down these fields as a kid and never really had a second thought as to what’s beneath it. For me this is the magic of it.

Surely, you don’t get many nice surprises in adult life. But metal detecting provides nice surprises”

Initial Resource: BBC Wales