Stories from the Field
James Troy Lockhart
The exciting discovery of an American GI's dog tag during a field survey at Owthorpe, Nottinghamshire caused great excitement for the Field Detectives and as usual the question asked was, 'What is it doing here?'
The Field Detectives were soon on the case to find out who James T Lockhart was and how the tag found its way into the soil over 70 years ago. James was a paratrooper in the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment and was stationed at Tollerton Hall in 1944 during the training and preparation for D-Day. Catherine immersed herself in her favourite branch of research (family history), hoping to track down a surviving family member to return the dog tag to. A letter is winging its way to Quinlan, Texas, USA, with the hope that she's found James' widow, Minnie. Sadly, the letter sent to James's widow was returned undeliverable with no forwarding address.
A copy of the report can be downloaded here
Night Soil Artefacts
Over the last 25 years, we have worked with Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire farmers on several historic landscape investigations. One constant theme that has emerged in almost all of our field survey reports is artefacts relating to the transport of night soil from Nottingham.
The story of the Nottingham Night Soil is integral to the story of Nottingham's industrial history because it is a story about the people who were there, told through their visits to the privy. They represent many untold stories relating to the life and times of people living and working in Nottingham during the 19th to early 20th century, thanks to the people who loaded the barges that transported the artefacts we find out on the fields. One occupation that found a career in pursuit of keeping Nottingham clean was the Night Soil man.
See the Latest News about the Field Detectives' visit to the National Poo Museum on the IIse of Wight.
The Flying Hulls and Bok's Crew of '42
In 1998, The Field Detectives, led by the late Dr Alan Stevens, undertook a research project, regarding a crash site at Goadby Marwood, where a Mosquito aircraft crashed on 17th May 1946 killing its pilot, Wing Commander George Laurence Bazett Hull DFC. We have now written up his amazing story and that of his cousin Caesar Hull, a celebrated WWII fighter pilot, both from South Africa. The full account can be found in the Flying Hulls booklet, along with his involvement in the Great Escape at Stalag Luft III and how he was part of the forced march the POWs endured as the war was ending
It is the family’s wish that no profit is made from the sale of the booklet, so therefore, digital copies can be made available free of charge here.
The Eaton Avro Lancaster
THE SEARCH FOR THE CRASH SITE OF AVRO LANCASTER MK I - R 5694 EM-F
Teamwork and collaboration proved to be the key ingredients that unlocked a seventy-seven-year uncertainty. On Wednesday 25th November 1942, Flight Lieutenant Raymund Joseph Hannan DFC and his crew flew out of Langar airfield in their Avro Lancaster MK I bomber bound for Bad Zwischenahn. On their return to RAF Langar, the aircraft crashed and burst into flames killing eight of the crew, seven that afternoon and one the following day. Eye witness accounts suggest a ‘most probable’ crash site, but the exact location was never recorded until now.
THE SEARCH FOR THE CRASH SITE OF AVRO LANCASTER MK I - R5695 EM-C
LOOKING FOR WINDSOR & HIS CREW - 2020
It was during the search for Raymund Hannan’s Avro Lancaster MK I R.5694 EM-F crash site in September 2020, that we came across records detailing the loss of Avro Lancaster MK I R.5695 EM-C. The deeper we delved into the lives of Raymund’s crew, the more we felt the sadness associated with the phrase used to describe the aircraft (EM-C) that did not come home; ‘lost without trace’.
This investigation set out to find Avro Lancaster R5695 EM-C. Alfred Joseph Parkyn and his crew had been lost for 78 years. In a twist of fate, it was the written account of Luftwaffe pilot Oberfeldwebel Ernst Heesen that provided the crash site location, where he shot them down into the North Sea on Wednesday 25th November 1942 at 16:34.
Looking for Windsor
Sometimes, we come across an artefact that leaves us totally flummoxed. In the case of this hollow lead alloy jockey’s head, we found ourselves once again in that familiar territory. The horse-related style of the design prompted us to consider that it might have something to do with the hunt, which used to ride at Long Clawson during the timeline in question. Our first port of call was to reach out to an organisation with knowledge of horses to see if they could help, so we tried one that had an association with jockeys. Unfortunately, they were unable to help.
Imagine our surprise when another of these jockey’s heads was discovered in our Grantham Canal night soil collection at our annual huddle. They had been found within five miles of each other.
Further research eventually led us to discover that the artefacts were lead pencil toppers commemorating Fred Archer, champion jockey of the Victorian era.
Further information can be found on Wikipedia here.
Garth's Gold Ring
In 2022, during a field survey at Long Clawson, a gold signet ring was found bearing the initials FGD. Incredibly, the present landowner was able to identify the owner of the ring as Frederick Garth Doubleday, Not only that, it turns out that Garth was the gentleman who sold Mill Farm to the landowner back in the 1980s. Unfortunately, Garth had passed away several years before the ring's discovery, however, his widow was alive and still living in the village.
It was with great pleasure, that the ring was returned to her and she told us that it was Garth's wedding ring and that it had been lost for about twenty years. He'd spent hours looking for it at the time of its loss.
A happy ending.
Radcliffe-on-Trent Firing Range
Every field would seem to have its own story to tell, and one field presented us with the beginnings of a mystery that would start to unravel from the second day of the survey when what at first appeared to be an isolated lead bullet came to light. As the survey progressed, further lead bullets came to light, and it soon became apparent that the late 19th and early 20th century Radcliffe-on-Trent rifle range, situated to the west of the modern-day Radcliffe-on-Trent Golf Club, had become their ‘most likely source of origin.
In 1884 a concert was held to raise money for the construction of rifle butts on land rented from Lord Manvers. The range was open by August 1885 when it was used by the South Notts Cavalry Carbine Club, but more local groups were to use it for regular shooting competitions. A keenly contested match took place in August 1888 when eight men of the Radcliffe half-company of the 4th Notts Rifle Volunteers met a company from the Robin Hood Rifles. Even when the golf course was being created, a clause was included in the agreement by Lord Manvers to 'indemnify him should any member be injured by firing from the adjacent rifle range. The firing range went out of use somewhere around 1912.
Click to enlarge
Cropwell Butler, Radcliffe-on-Trent Parish Boundary Step Over
The discovery of the step-over construction is a significant find in our ongoing study of Parish Boundaries. It also raises several questions warranting further investigation. Such as, is the construction a common parish boundary feature that can be found quite frequently at similar step-over points either locally or nationally? The images and measurements we have taken can be used to cross-reference against any similar parish boundary ditch step-over places. If we can get the word out to our friends and colleagues to investigate their own parish boundaries in search of these boundary step-over points to learn whether or not ours is a unique construction, that would be a great help.
Based on the maps we have viewed to date and the lime mortar we found under one of the broken step-over slabs, our guesstimate for the date of construction is c. late 18th to mid-19th century. Roman artefacts were found in close proximity to this particular parish boundary crossing point, but the uncertainty remains; are these places commonly associated with Romano-British artefact losses?
If so, what can that tell us about parish boundary perimeters and their association with much older Romano-British period estates and how they were managed?