Hello you lovely people! As most of you may know, I am Karl, one of the co-founders of We are Hummingbird. I was recently approached by Scott from Crawfords Metal Detectors to talk about why I love metal detecting and how I use it as an aide in helping to balance my mental health.
How long have you been detecting?
I have been detecting for just over 4 years. Though, due to the pandemic I had to have about a two-year hiatus. I don’t have any of my own permissions (places I am allowed to detect) and rely on group digs so I couldn’t just pop off for some solitary detecting.
For me, the fascination of metal detecting has always been there. When I was a kid, my Great Auntie used to be a detectorist and once showed me a Gold Roman ring that she found (and is now on display at the British Museum I believe). I remember it looking really tatty and not thinking much about its significance other than the fact it was gold and was pretty valuable. Now I am older and slightly more knowledgeable it holds a lot more significance. These days, the history far out-weighs any value for me.
What’s your favourite find?
This is a tough one. So far, I only really have 3 really interesting finds; my first was a 12th Century seal matrix (1101-1200) and then the week after I found my fist hammered coin, a Henry III cut-half voided long cross (1207-1272) and a bronze age spear tip (3300BC-1200BC). But I think because I chased and coveted my first hammered coin for 4 years, I would have to say that. The seal matrix is more interesting to look at though.
Henry III voided long cross, cut-half
12th Century Seal matrix (Translates to Alex / Alexander / Alexandra, Son of John)
Bronze Age spear tip
What detector do you use?
I use a Minelab Equinox 600. It was a big upgrade and learning curve from my previous detector but one I am more than happy with. It’s one of the best metal detectors on the market for its price, and is brilliant in a lot of different terrains.
You can learn more about it here: https://www.crawfordsmd.com/metal-detectors/minelab/minelab-equinox-600
Name 5 positive things that you get from metal detecting
1. Fresh air & scenery.
2. Exercise. 3. Time to reflect and think (or not think, depending on what you want) 4. The opportunity to speak to like-minded people. We all know that conversation is a great exercise for your mental health. 5. The anticipation and the excitement of finding something interesting. It really is all about the optimism!
How do you believe that metal detecting helps your mental health?
Getting outside in the fresh air is always a winner. I like to go for a good long walk first thing in the morning but to combine that with a metal detector ticks some extra boxes. There’s a film called, ‘Haggard’ and one of the characters in it has just split up with his girlfriend and is angry and depressed. He was advised by a friend that the two great ways to help are to either throw glass bottles against a wall or dig a hole. I can’t comment on the throwing of glass bottles but when needed, digging lots of little holes certainly helps! Especially when there’s something interesting in there.
I also recently started a YouTube channel. As someone with anxiety, being in front of the camera has always been an awful experience but starting my channel has really helped me come out of my shell and build my confidence up. I’m pretty sure I’m never going to make it big time with thousands of views, but even if I use it as a little diary whilst I’m out, it works for me.
You can find my YouTube channel, Mental Detecting here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClJhSBPTf1rGv0p59QfdskQ?sub_confirmation=1
Where do you detect?
I am part of a club called Hyndburn and Ribble Valley Detectorist Club (or HARV for short). We do a lot of digs in the incredibly picturesque pastures of East Lancashire / West Yorkshire. An area steeped in history known for the famous Pendle Witch trials and plenty of Roman activity (although I am yet to find anything Roman).
Is there something in particular that you wish to find?
I think it’s safe to say that every detectorist wants to find gold at some point or a nice silver denarius, but for me, I would love to find a decorated and intact crotal bell that still rings. Although I believe that crotal bells weren’t as common in the North West as they were further down the South of the country. A crotal bell was designed to be attached to both horses and small vehicles to alert people to their presence. This would help you hear their movement and you would be able to locate them or move out of the way!
I’ll find one, never say never, I’m optimistic!
What is We are Hummingbird?
We are Hummingbird is a mental health, non-profit charity that uses music as a platform to engage and educate people around mental health. We publish weekly curated playlists from our community, we have musicians submit videos, and we attend festivals each year as part of their wellbeing teams to help shout about what we do and also provide safe space for public, artists and crew members should they need a little bit of time out and just have a chat. We love music and we love supporting people, so we combined them and now help 1000’s of people every year.
How can you get involved in metal detecting?
I’d say the first thing to do is look for a local club or group. Unless you’re lucky enough to have or know someone who has a good chunk of land to detect on. Otherwise (I have found), that trying to get permission from landowners is very difficult.
The detecting community is one of the nicest I have ever known. Some clubs have spare gear that you can borrow whilst there and can ask people for help and advice. It's not a competition so no one battles each other. They are very welcoming and will help you.
Do some research into detectors or reach out to reputable suppliers (I recommend Crawfords Metal Detectors, obviously) who will be more than helpful. Detectors can go up to big money so start off with something ‘cheaper’. A lot of people start out and then give up quickly because they don’t find any gold or silver. My advice, watch one of the greatest TV shows ever, ‘Detectorists’ first. This is as close to the realities of what metal detecting is like without actually doing it!
Crawfords Metal Detectors is a family run metal detecting company which has been in operation for more than 25 years. Crawfords are the official UK distributor for Minelab metal detectors (one of the most established and valued detecting brands in the UK).
The thing I love about Crawfords the most is their passion for detecting and their customer service. If you are new to detecting call them, or contact them on social media and they will guide you. They are very supportive and knowledgeable.
Here is a link to the Crawfords website: https://www.crawfordsmd.com
Thank you so much for reading my thoughts about metal detecting. It’s a great hobby and is well worth trying if you’re looking for something new, interesting and that will help your mind grow, whether that be through space and solitude, friendships, and the excitement of finding treasure and history.