Saturday, February 26, 2011
Here's a shot of the arrowheads I found while walking the beaches of North Haven last summer. I was out there building stone walls (see my Penobscot Stone blog) and my tender even managed to find a primitive axe head inside of an old wall. Apparently a farmer unknowingly added it to his wall over a hundred years earlier. I am still trying to buy this piece off of him, but he is loathe to part with it. I think he is using it to chop wood.
I was going to go to the gym this morning, but decided to hit the beach instead. The sun was shining and despite the foot of snow we got yesterday, the tide was out and the shore exposed. I came out with four heavily worn wheat pennies, the dates unreadable on all; an nineteenth century copper bottle stopper; a heavy little one-inch steel decorative pull of some sort; 84 cents in looses change (which brings this year's total to 2.49); and an arrowhead, which I spotted while digging up my last penny.
I was really surprised and excited to find the arrowhead. I know the Maine coast has a rich Native American history and that Camden in particular was heavily populated, but I have never found a point outside of my North Haven finds last summer. It's in rough shape and I have never seen one in this kind of white stone, but it is undoubtably a hand-worked tool.
You know, I haven't been out with the metal detector since November. The ground is hard as a rock and covered with two feet of snow and I had pretty much accepted the fact that I would not be digging up anything till the Spring. Then I remembered the beaches. The salt keeps the sand from freezing. Why not do some hunting on the beach?
It was about six in the morning and had been snowing lightly for a few hours when I headed down to Camden Harbor. The tide was low enough and I had an hour before I needed to get going on my one and a half hour commute to work, so I marched down through the snow-buried park and fired up the machine.
A thin sheet of ice had to be broken through to get to the rocky sand below, but sure enough, it was unfrozen. Small ice flows creaked and groaned and scraped up against one another along the shoreline. Every few minutes I would look up and marvel at the gray stillness of the ice-encrusted sailboats sleeping in the harbor. It was a beautiful place to spend the morning, if nothing else.
Camden Harbor is a strange place to metal detect. It is difficult, due to the large quantity of rusty junk left over from two hundred years of shipbuilding; but there is also a bridge about two hundred feet up the stream that empties into it, which people have been using as a wishing well for many years. Copious amounts of heavily worn modern coins (mostly pennies) tend to get in the way of finding the older, deeper coins below. I mean, money is money and I won't throw it away, but it isn't what I'm looking for.
And I found what I was looking for. That is, I did not find much, and an hour passes pretty quickly with a metal detector; but I came out with a few small treasures. I dug up two very worn-out large cents, which were wedged in the semi-preserved wood of some old pier I dug out of the hard packed clay below the sand. Nothing much could be made out on their surfaces, but their large size gave them away. The best find, however, was the small mason's wedge, beautifully weathered and identical to the wedges I have been using to split granite with for the last two weeks. (See my Penobscot Stone blog) Not bad for a white morning in February, but I'll still be glad to Spring roll around.