Chalk , Clay and a temporary farewell

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Kenleyboy
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I guess we all get attached to certain personal items and when they have served us well and their demise is on the horizon we reluctantly discard them with a tinge of sadness and disappointment . Those favourite boots we have gotten used to that have helped protect our feet as we have trudged our way through many seasons across many fields and they fit like a well worn pair of slippers , or in my case a fork ! Not just any old fork , this beast of equipment has been with me on many Norfolk bottle digs over the last five years , it has braved many a winter and shifted some soil , I dread to think how many tons . It is an old potato fork with the nodules removed by way of an angle grinder , you dont want roundy bits on the end of your prongs , you want pointy bits and sharp ones too . Shaped and ground to a satisfactory sharpness , I was happy with my efforts , not sure what the neighbour thought of all the sparks and a few curses , pointy bits are hot to touch after having 2000 rpm of spinning grinding discs on hot metal .
I was most certainly flavour of the month amongst my bottle digging pals , these old forks are much hankered after and are damn hard to find , they shift soil and ash with ease , the prongs being so close together are ideal for mooching about in the wet , nothing gets through the tight thin rods of steel and they can take a wall of soil down in impressive clumps , twice as fast as a standard fork .
The culprit was this rather heavy duty line of chalk running through the wall like a big jagged finger , sticky , heavy and damn well hard to dig through especially if there is a random lump of flint wedged in amongst it all for good measure .
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After chopping away at this layer the fork is by far the better tool for the job in my opinion , less chance of it sticking in huge clumps to a spade which adds a surprising arm wrenching weight once attached . However my poor old potato fork was pushed to the limits and the result was this disaster .
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A bit gutted but we were here for the best part of the day and without my favourite soil buster fork I had to resort to the more wimpier version , the common garden variety . To be fair they are good tools if you get a decent one and I always purchase mine from the shed clearance stalls at the markets or car boots and for a couple of quid you can have something that is going to last for years , in the case of my fave fork then five years which aint half bad compared to the cheap high priced imports at your local mega store , they will last five minutes let alone five years !
So with that disaster over it was time to get on with the rest of the dig . It has been at least 6 weeks , maybe more since our last visit so my buddy and I were really looking forward to it especially as the weather was dry and sunny albeit a little cold . The other issue we had was the previous rain and with that relentless downpour spread intermittingly over the past few weeks we knew the water table was going to be higher which rendered any decent depth and then the limitations of what we will find put us at a bit of a disadvantage but we were here and happy to be so and we would make do of what we could , after all the lockdown scenario it was just great to be out and about .
I guessed and for once I got it right , the depth would be five feet and then you got the mushy water rising up from below but considering we had not dug on a weekly regular basis for best part of the year , you soon realise how slow and arduous the task ahead can be and I really did not relish the idea of digging to any great depth , so five feet max will be fine with me .
the stumbling block of course was this heavy duty band of chalk and when I began this trench around this time last year the chalk line was but a mere thin vein of chalk snaking its way along the walls of ash , the further on you go the more it has increased , it is a always gamble not knowing what lays beyond as you move forward , you hope it peters out but in this case it hasnt and how far back it goes is anyones guess . The thing is for me this has been a very productive area and I am loath to move further afield so I shall just have to stick it out until it eventually disappears , just one of the many pit falls of digging into the unknown !
All was not lost though , just as you think that this going to be one of those bad dig days then the next falling clump of compact ash and soil reveals the satisfying snout of a ginger beer bottle poking out from the 100 plus years of spoil.
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That was a satisfying find and despite the restrictions and the possibility of missing deeper finds it was a good enough indication that there were at least some decent bottle in the walls at relatively shallow depths .
The next few finds were quite far apart , a lot of the bottles were fining in our respective holes were very common plain med bottles and similar and then for me a find that I liken to the same feeling of euphoria when chancing upon a hammered coin , its equal in the world of bottle digging is the much sought after Victorian printed lid .
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That for me was the find of the day on a personal level , they are very much favoured by those who dig for bottles and they are not in abundance here on this tip although when they do surface they are always in very good condition such as this one .
It was then quiet for a an hour or so , plenty of tea and chat breaks in between proceedings which is always a good thing . Get your energy levels back up , admire the surroundings and enjoy what nature has to offer , plenty of bird life foraging for their winter feed and of course the entertaining chat and banter makes it a good day .
My next best fund was this quite rare hobnail curved back blue poison bottle , once again in the many years I have dug this tip I have only ever dug one other so when this fell out of the dark shadows of the over hang and landed at me feet I knew I had been blessed on todays dig .
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The final tally after a good few hours and a very long absence from this very forgiving Victorian tip , they sure made some wonderful stuff back then .
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Oxgirl
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I made myself a cup of tea and settled down to happily read today’s adventure. Loved it :Star:

That blue bottle is a beauty. Really pretty thing :clapping: .

I am also distracted by those thin delicate tube shaped bottles at the bottom. They look gorgeous and very delicate - what are they for?
Yes I really don’t like Roman coins, I’m not joking
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Easylife
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Nice finds. :thumbsup:
Four candles! :lol:
D2 - 13"x11" coil - audio only.
Blackadder43
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My nan had a fork like that when i cleared the house out about 10 years ago now.....i thought it looked odd for a fork, but me nan was an avid gardener, so obviously knew her onions..
You can repair it though, like a new handle?

I bet you werent cold on this venture....you must be fit fella, i was knackered out reading about the dig :lol:

Some nice finds though....That Hobnail bottle is a corker, is it fully complete and intact? :clapping:

Great write up fella and great photos, if you ever need any more quota for a thread just say and i'll up it for you :thumbsup:
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Kenleyboy
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Oxgirl wrote: Mon Dec 14, 2020 9:03 pm I made myself a cup of tea and settled down to happily read today’s adventure. Loved it :Star:

That blue bottle is a beauty. Really pretty thing :clapping: .

I am also distracted by those thin delicate tube shaped bottles at the bottom. They look gorgeous and very delicate - what are they for?
The little thin bottles vary in their use , some are vials while the little blue one we think is a pill bottle but they had many uses . We find loads of them and most are very plain but the one with the very crude wonky neck is quite early and looks to be a pouring lip so possibly a chemist bottle ..
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Kenleyboy
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Blackadder43 wrote: Mon Dec 14, 2020 9:59 pm My nan had a fork like that when i cleared the house out about 10 years ago now.....i thought it looked odd for a fork, but me nan was an avid gardener, so obviously knew her onions..
You can repair it though, like a new handle?

I bet you werent cold on this venture....you must be fit fella, i was knackered out reading about the dig :lol:

Some nice finds though....That Hobnail bottle is a corker, is it fully complete and intact? :clapping:

Great write up fella and great photos, if you ever need any more quota for a thread just say and i'll up it for you :thumbsup:
The hobnail poison is complete with no damage :thumbsup: Will pop some cleaned bottle images up .
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Kenleyboy
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A selection of the cleaned bottles and lid .
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The Mrs Winslows bottle is quite crude with heavy embossing . It reads " Mrs Winlsow , Soothing Syrup ,Curtis and Perkins , Proprietors ".
Unfortunately the history behind these so called soothing medicines for babies have a rather more sinister story behind them .
It was first produced in 1849 as a medicinal tincture for infants . Little did the unsuspecting Mothers know that they were administering a poison which was causing the death of their child .
The syrup contained morphine 65 mg per ounce as well as alcohol .One teaspoon had the morphine equivalent to 20 drops of laudanum and one teaspoon was enough to kill one child . :thumbdown:
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Blackadder43
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:shock: :shock:
Oh my goodness, thats interesting but very sad history lesson there on Victorian medicines

So were they licensed or looked at in anyway?...or was this literally knocked up in their kitchens and sold on to the public?
Dave The Slave
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Great write up and photos, Paul.
Know how you feel about certain items of equipment.
Hopefully a new handle will sort the fork out.
Interesting about the so called cures of the day.
Cleaned up items look good.
Cheers, :thumbsup:
Dave.
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Kenleyboy
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Blackadder43 wrote: Tue Dec 15, 2020 10:26 am :shock: :shock:
Oh my goodness, thats interesting but very sad history lesson there on Victorian medicines

So were they licensed or looked at in anyway?...or was this literally knocked up in their kitchens and sold on to the public?
At the time there was no real legislations in place so they had a fairly free reign to brew up any potions they could think of with magical cures .
It wasnt until 1906 that the pure food and drug act forced manufacturers to label ingredients on their products ,, which is what we have today .
I would say this bottle predates 1906 so is one of the "baby killer" mixtures , a term used when they finally realised exactly what this and many other mixes were actually doing . Not the best of associated bottles to have in a collection but all part of our "Horrible History!"

I would also like to add that this was not a careless intentional poisoning , the manufacturers did not realise at that time exactly what damage their products were causing , nobody did . However it soon became apparent and far too coincidental that there was a high mortality rate amongst infants . There were thousands but exactly how many nobody really knows .
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Steve_JT
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Really like your posts, they are a good read with all the added info on what you find with some great pictures too, lifts my spirits on a rainy day :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Your multi tine fork looks like an old sugar beet fork to me, perhaps you should get a metal handle welded to to it and make it more robust,

Regards Steve
A foolish faith in authority, is the worst enemy of truth." Albert Einstein
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Kenleyboy
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Steve_JT wrote: Wed Dec 16, 2020 2:23 pm Really like your posts, they are a good read with all the added info on what you find with some great pictures too, lifts my spirits on a rainy day :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Your multi tine fork looks like an old sugar beet fork to me, perhaps you should get a metal handle welded to to it and make it more robust,

Regards Steve
Thanks Steve , all good fun and a light hearted look at what we do as a hobby :thumbsup:

Yes , sugar beet forks , the lads up here call them potato forks and I often wondered why most of them seem to have the round nodules on the tips . I was told the idea was to prevent a spiked prong sticking in the sugar beet/potato when shifting them out of the soil for harvesting . Great forks and it may pay to weld a metal handle in place of the wooden ones .
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