Rodney Cook Memorial Metal Detecting Rally – May 2022

by Aaron Reynolds

Firstly, I’d like to thank all the staff and marshals at the Rodney Cook Memorial one day metal detecting rally. It was truly amazing to speak with you all and express our love of metal detecting, charity events, and the love of the hobby together. This doesn’t begin to mention the countless detectorists who attended, and it wouldn’t have been possible without you. I have not seen how much we have raised so far, but I imagine it will go a long way to help the RUH (Royal United Hospitals of Bath) Forever Friends appeal, which supports patients who require more care than the average patient. Raising over £100,000 so far, the RCM rally continues to support local charities. I couldn’t be more proud of the whole team for getting it so far along, raising an incredible sum that will make a big difference in many lives.

The briefing.

Arriving at the dig, we drove in to see lots of smiles and people setting up, and we quickly parked up and followed suit. After getting geared up, Seb and I had a chat with some detectorists and made our way over to the briefing area, ready to start. The briefing was to-the-point, clear and well communicated by Gary Cook himself, and then the hoards of detectorists were off.
As usual, I waited 15 minutes for everyone to disperse and had a chat in the meantime with some of the marshals, who were incredibly helpful and kind. Walking out into the first field I wanted to tackle, first hole and boom; A ship halfpenny, all the way from 1946, right in the entrance to the field. Considering my usual find rate, it was a good sign for me.

First hole!

Getting further into the field and a couple of buttons later, I had a fantastic signal ringing in my ears, and I plunged the spade in after pinpointing. Turning over the clod, I found the target straight away, staring me in the face; A broken crotal bell. There were small fragments around a considerable chunk, including the top loop, with the ‘ringer’ still nestled inside. The ringer was iron and had rusted over and loosely bonded to the shell of the bell, keeping it in place until I had it in my hand. It had decoration, and I believe (from the little knowledge I have on crotal bells) that it was an older variant, with a drilled casted loop at the top as opposed to the more common later method of adding a sprew after casting. Broken or not, it was my first crotal bell, and I was over the moon. I have been searching for one for a long time, and it finally came up for me.

Broken but glorious!

After an hour or so, following a quick stop at the food van for a snack, Seb and I decided to try the other fields. The second field we tried was the main field (the field we parked in for those who attended), and we slowly made our way up to the top field near the Saxon church. These fields were buzzing with detectorists (naturally, considering the location and what others had found there in the morning). I didn’t have much luck on these fields, but I did pick up a couple more buttons for good measure. Speaking to other detectorists, I found that there were quite a few with hammered coins, even some lucky souls with a few of them in their finds box. It was great to see them nonetheless, especially the Gold Louis (XVIII?) in the find’s cabinet for the event. Well done to that lucky finder.
I also had a great chat with Mike and Dennis, part of the RCM team. They were delightful to talk to, and I can’t wait to see them at the next RCM weekender. I hope they managed to get a bit of detecting. The marshals deserve it more than us for the fantastic job they do!

As I was sweeping with my XP DEUS II, I approached another detectorist’s hole and received a great tone. I’m used to checking holes and retrieving the trash from them that some detectorists leave behind, but it seemed this target was slightly off from the existing hole. Reopening the plug, I manually pinpointed the target and dug in my spade, pulling up a find many would consider trash, but I quite like – a lock, still clasped around a bracket. Long past its days of operation, I still class this as an intriguing find. There might not be hundreds of years of history behind it, it may not have seen the rise and fall of various empires and tyrants, but it has its own story that will likely never be known, same as every other artefact or relic. Before spending its life drowning in soil and worms, it probably once acted as an attempt to keep something or someone safe from others, and based on where I found it, still locked, it did its job until the end.
We have all had the padlocks on the Deus II remote at some point (diving mode, for those not in the know), but now I can say it literally!

Locked up!

We made our way back to the main area for the raffle, which was a great success. Lady luck wasn’t by my side, but many lucky detectorists got their hands on some detecting equipment, RCM merchandise or some other donated prizes and bottles of bubbly. I’m sure everyone left with a smile and was content with their finds and/or rewards. Most of all, we all got together as a community to raise some cash for a great charity. Of all the rallies we visit, the RCM is always guaranteed to be a great event to attend, and I will always recommend it as one of the friendliest and well-run rallies in the UK.
Lastly, I’d like to give a big shoutout and thank you to Gary Cook, whom I consider the leading architect of the RCM team. He ensures the events are as enjoyable as possible, makes sure everyone is safe and happy and sets a new bar when it comes to rallies. If you have attended an RCM rally, or are considering joining them for a weekend, be sure to give him a firm handshake and a thank you. This wouldn’t be happening without him. Thank you for having us, RCM. It was an absolute pleasure.

Gary Cook (right), Seb (behind) and I, Aaron (left).

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