Bottle digging guide

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Bottle digging guide

Post by Oxgirl36 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:51 am

Lowland wrote a brilliant post a little while ago offering advice on safety if bottle digging which I’ve edited into a guide. He, and Kenleyboy, have added further thoughts, guidance and advice which I’ve now also added.

Thanks Lowland and Kenleyboy for your combined wisdom ::g :D


Equipment:
A spade! The type depends on the type of tip you’re digging. Plus a spare one too - nowt worse than breaking one and having no replacement.

Also a fork for bringing the hole sides in and loosening up the hole floor - especially handy on a tip that’s all rusty buckets and the like

Really good tough work gloves - nitrile dipped puncture resistant types are best

Super sturdy boots

Dust mask optional but wise

Plasters - despite wearing gloves there is always the chance of cutting yourself no matter how careful you are.

Knee pads/ thick rubber mat - always handy especially when kneeling and peering into the sides in the hope of a decent find. The thick rubber mat can also double up as a seat rather than chancing sitting down on the spoil amongst shards of broken glass or pottery.

Plenty of water - I cannot emphasize this enough, you will be surprised how dehydrated you can get when digging especially in this heat wave we have just experienced. I usually take 4 litres of bottled water on a typical 4 hour dig.

Bottle digging can be dangerous so beware - all sorts of nasty stuff went into these dumps. See safety info points below!
Do not go alone. If you get into trouble you need a friend around. A mobile phone helps too!

Find a good dump:
They are everywhere - the best ones I’ve dug have been big house dumps. They consumed the best of stuff and consequently the bottles, jars and lids are usually up market.
AND, just like detecting, permission is essential.

Go to the library to check out old newspaper articles where committees met to discuss where they intended to tip their town’s waste, it can prove interesting reading and also give you an insight into how your town or village has expanded over the years. Other local publications (newsletters, council minutes, etc.) can be a good source of old stories that hold clues as well.

Some tips are found by accident - woodland, farmland and Hedgerows will most likely have been used as tips at some time and a good tell tale sign are the bottle diggers friend - stinging nettles! They thrive on bottle dumps and where they grow in profusion is possibly an old tip. Also another telltale sign are shards of glass or pottery scattered here and there.

Also worth considering:
Off the side of old bridges -can be hairy digging though. Generally a good place to find old bottles are rivers or streams.
And most sewage works round here are on top of old tips

A map hunting clue is look for old tracks that lead out from village or farm and terminate at a banking. Also quarries /sand or gravel pits that aren’t on newer maps as they are often backfilled with old refuse.
And never be put off by a dump that looks 1930/50s on top as often there is a clay cap and then bingo, a victorian dream.

One of the best tip hunting resources is the old timers, so talk to the older inhabitants of the villages and farms - it’s a good excuse to go down the pub =D> Digger drivers are worth buying a pint for too - A great mine of information!

Getting started:
If there's no pressure to get it done, the best bet is to just start at an edge and nibble away and in to the dump at your leisure.
Clear a good sized working area a few feet deep at a time and go down in stages.
Start a scrap pile, it can be worthwhile.
Starting in the middle is a bad idea...there could be big voids underfoot.
Or large hidden objects....tractors, cars, bedspreads the dreaded rolls of wire, etc.

Keep your wits about you ::g
Also don’t be tempted to burrow too far in when down a hole-you’re just digging a potential grave.
Remember what looks like the bottom of the dump may just be a layer of capping on older goodies.
Avoid the digger route...I have seen very good stuff wrecked with a digger including a ‘matchless polish’ enamel sign. Although diggers can be handy for the big stuff and clearing away loose trimmings.

ALWAYS check your spoilheap-small items like marbles ,inks ,button lids and the like
Can end up shovelled out of the hole unseen.
Not forgetting ointment pots!

Bottle dumps can be valuable
Keep it to yourself locally....the walls have ears and spades! There is a lot of money potentially in a good dump. I’ve had a holiday on some of my better finds!

Dangers
Everything went into old dumps so beware, keep eyes peeled for asbestos...sometimes older dumps got a fresh hole put in them to get rid of the stuff. If so walk away.

Old chemicals can be found in country dumps too. Plus a myriad of other nasties.
If it's an ash filled tip then it will get dusty, hence getting a mask is advisable - another good reason not to dig deep foxhole style holes.

Some of the most dangerous dumps are on bankings. Gravity is a downer and big cave ins are a very real danger. On sites like that it’s best to not have too broad/wide a hole as it helps to keep as much strength in the layers above.
Ideally the top layers above where you’re digging should be stripped away first as this takes a lot of the weight away.

Beware of concealed dangers in the working face as nothing brings down a banking quicker than a hidden lump of concrete - a friend had his pelvis smashed by such a lump.
Another pal got buried up to his waist on a banking and had to get himself dug out, caused by digging too near somebody else’s hole.

Once saw a bus load of Geordie diggers undermining a monster 50 foot cliff at the green bing
And then getting swept away by an enormous ash tsunami, followed by a chorus of “where’s me spade mun”. But you will get little warning signs that the sides are coming down-like a tiny trickle of ash.
There is the risks of cave ins when you get a bit deeper - always have an exit strategy.

Might be stating the obvious about tidying up and filling in holes but broken glass is evil stuff.


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Bottle digging guide

Post by Lowland » Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:50 pm

Hiya oxgirl
I should add to the equipment list to include
A spade!
Which type is Depending on the type of tip you’re digging.
And a spare one too-nowt worse than breaking one and having no replacement.
Also a fork for bringing the hole sides in and loosening up the hole floor-
Especially handy on a tip that’s all rusty buckets and the like.
::g
The best gloves I’ve found are the nitrile dipped puncture resistant types.

Plus -an old dump to dig on is handy :D
They are everywhere-the best ones I’ve dug have been big house dumps
They consumed the best of stuff and consequently the bottles jars and lids are usually up market .
(142 toothpaste pot lids and bases out of one hole in such a tip)
AND
Just like detecting-permission is essential.
There’s loads more but I’m in the middle of hoovering the house x;
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Lowland » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:05 pm

Some of The most dangerous dumps I’ve dug are on bankings-
Gravity is a downer and big cave ins are a very real danger.
On sites like that it’s best to not have too broad/wide a hole
Which helps to keep as much strength in the layers above.
Ideally the top layers above where you’re digging should be stripped away first
Taking a lot of the weight away.
Beware of concealed dangers in the working face...
Nothing brings down a banking quicker than a hidden lump of concrete-a friend had his pelvis smashed by such a lump.RIP jock.
Another pal got buried up to his waist on a banking and had to get himself dug out with half an old china plate-that was caused by digging too near somebody else’s hole.
But illustrated the dangers of flying solo as well.
Once saw a bus load of Geordie diggers undermining a monster 50 foot cliff at the green bing
And then getting swept away by an enormous ash tsunami.
Followed by a chorus of “where’s me spade mun”
There was a fight on for a big flagon that rolled down the hill as the dust settled.
You will get little warning signs that the sides are coming down-like a tiny trickle of ash
Keep your wits about you.
::g
Also don’t be tempted to burrow too far in when down a hole-you’re just digging a potential grave.
Last edited by Lowland on Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by kenleyboy » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:14 pm

Agree , a very good post especially for those just about to embark on the wonderful world of bottle digging .

If I may add a couple more items that I take along in my bag of bits .

Plasters , despite wearing gloves there is always the chance of cutting yourself no matter how careful you are . I have cut myself a couple of times by being too eager to pull a bottle out .

Knee pads , these are great or one of those thick rubber mats , always handy especially when kneeling and peering into the sides in the hope of a decent find .The thick rubber mat can also double up as a seat rather than chancing sitting down on the spoil amongst shards of broken glass or pottery .

Plenty of water , I cannot emphasize this enough , you will be surprised how dehydrated you can get when digging especially in this heat wave we have just experienced .I usually take 4 litres of bottled water on a typical 4 hour dig .

Safety reasons , never dig alone .
I walk , I dig , I find ....naff all !

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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by kenleyboy » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:17 pm

Apologies Lowland , my post came in just after yours , but yes all of the above , safety is paramount .
Seen a few cave ins which are not pleasant if you are underneath them .
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Oxgirl36 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:20 pm

Thank you guys ::g I’ll update the original post this evening with your extra thoughts :D
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Lowland » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:22 pm

Oxgirl36 wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:20 pm
Thank you guys ::g I’ll update the original post this evening with your extra thoughts :D
Loads more to come oxgirl! ::g
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Lowland » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:23 pm

kenleyboy wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:17 pm
Apologies Lowland , my post came in just after yours , but yes all of the above , safety is paramount .
Seen a few cave ins which are not pleasant if you are underneath them .
No apology required kenleyboy!
The hydration point is a very good one.
::g
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Oxgirl36 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:29 pm

Lowland wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:22 pm
Oxgirl36 wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:20 pm
Thank you guys ::g I’ll update the original post this evening with your extra thoughts :D
Loads more to come oxgirl! ::g
Then I guess I’ll just have to keep updating it then =))
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by kenleyboy » Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:01 pm

Just an example of some of the things you can find when digging for bottles . This was the result of just a few hours digging on a shallow tip , some items can be just a few inches under the surface and on this particular tip bottles are no more than few feet down . This makes a change from the back breaking deep digging escapades .
seagers.jpg
They call us the throw away society , I think the Victorians got there first and it is part of our social history which enables us to see how they lived , what they ate and drank etc .

It is an exciting hobby albeit a little dangerous but if you are careful and sensible the rewards can be just as exciting as metal detecting . Bottle digging is not for everyone but to think that one of the most fragile materials in history actually survives underground in some cases for well over a hundred years remaining intact is surprising when you think of the amount of bricks etc that are often found wedged against them many feet below .

Finding old tips is the hard part , a lot of legwork and research is involved and many are now built upon and lost forever . Despite this there are still plenty out there to be found , some never having been dug before .The best ones are of course the Victorian tips but dont shy away from later tips , these will often throw up surprises . I have found Victorian bottles in 1930s tips , later tips were dumped on top of earlier existing tips , just a case of digging until you find them .

The Environment Agency have now stopped a wonderful online service which enabled you to locate old landfill waste sites in and around your chosen area often dating when they were first tipped . Sadly now unavailable so it is back to the library to check out old newspaper articles where committees met to discuss where they intended to tip their Towns waste , it can prove interesting reading and also give you an insight into how your Town or village has expanded over the years .

Some tips are found by accident , woodland , Farmland and Hedgerows will most likely have been used as tips at some time and a good tell tale sign are the bottle diggers friend , Stinging Nettles ! They thrive on bottle dumps and where they grow in profusion is possibly an old tip . Another telltale sign are shards of glass or pottery scattered here and there and our friend the mole can bring up bits of broken glass etc .

As Lowland has mentioned , old Manor Houses and embankments are also a good source , as with metal detecting , the rules are the same , permission first and filling in your dug holes and making it neat and tidy . We have permission on this tip as long as we make good after which means clearing any signs of broken glass and we use a rake after we are done with hole filling , makes a neat tidy job and shows the landowner you have some respect , that way you get invited back !
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Lowland » Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:06 am

That’s awesome kenleyboy...I was hoping the cavalry would show up ::g
Well crafted post
And a very good point about shallow tips
Have also dug 3/4 ft. deep pits that were scattered right through a windbreak wood.
(Some had horses in)
=D>
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Oxgirl36 » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:28 am

Updated with loads more good stuff ::g
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Lowland » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:38 am

Oxgirl36 wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:28 am
Updated with loads more good stuff ::g
You bring order to chaos oxgirl
::g
One point worth noting-when forking the sides in-gan canny!
Some of the nicest and most collected bottles are the coloured patent poisons.
Which are very thin glass-
Putting your fork prong through a nice one is a bad day.
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Lowland » Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:22 pm

Other areas I’ve had good success hunting tips are
Off the side of old bridges -can be hairy digging.
And most sewage works round here are on top of old tips
(Was going to say old dumps-thought better of it ;)) )
A map hunting clue is look for old tracks that lead out from village or farm and
Terminate at a banking.
Quarries /sand or gravel pits that aren’t on newer maps
Often are backfilled with old refuse.
And never be put off by a dump that looks 1930/50s on top
One of the best digs I ever had was about ten feet of 1930s onwards
And below that was a clay cap and then bingo-victorian dream...
To be fair the milk bottles and vulcanite thread stopper beers from the upper layers
can be worth having as well.
::g
Last edited by Lowland on Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by kenleyboy » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:59 pm

Lowland wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:22 pm
Other areas I’ve had good success hunting tips are
Off the side of old bridges -can be hairy digging.
And most sewage works round here are on top of old tips
(Was going to say old dumps-thought better of it ;)) )
A map hunting clue is look for old tracks that lead out from village or farm and
Terminate at a banking.
Quarries /sand or gravel pits that aren’t on newer maps
Often are backfilled with old refuse.
And never be put off by a dump that looks 1930/50s on top
One of the best digs I ever had was about ten feet of 1930s onwards
And below that was a clay cap and then bingo-victorian dream.
::g
Brilliant stuff , it is all out there just waiting to be discovered . Another good place to find old bottles are Rivers or streams . On my local river there are a number of interesting looking bottles on the riverbed , a little too deep for me at the moment but I will return with some waders .
I walk , I dig , I find ....naff all !

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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Tom91 » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:19 pm

Lowland wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:22 pm
Other areas I’ve had good success hunting tips are
Off the side of old bridges -can be hairy digging.
And most sewage works round here are on top of old tips
(Was going to say old dumps-thought better of it ;)) )
A map hunting clue is look for old tracks that lead out from village or farm and
Terminate at a banking.
Quarries /sand or gravel pits that aren’t on newer maps
Often are backfilled with old refuse.
And never be put off by a dump that looks 1930/50s on top
One of the best digs I ever had was about ten feet of 1930s onwards
And below that was a clay cap and then bingo-victorian dream.
::g
I've had success looking for ponds or saw-pits that disappear between different map editions, usually in back gardens.
If the Lidar imagery of an area is high enough, I've also been able to spot lenses of tipping down banks or into pits before I've been able to get out to the site.

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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Lowland » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:12 pm

Tom91 wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:19 pm
Lowland wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:22 pm
Other areas I’ve had good success hunting tips are
Off the side of old bridges -can be hairy digging.
And most sewage works round here are on top of old tips
(Was going to say old dumps-thought better of it ;)) )
A map hunting clue is look for old tracks that lead out from village or farm and
Terminate at a banking.
Quarries /sand or gravel pits that aren’t on newer maps
Often are backfilled with old refuse.
And never be put off by a dump that looks 1930/50s on top
One of the best digs I ever had was about ten feet of 1930s onwards
And below that was a clay cap and then bingo-victorian dream.
::g
I've had success looking for ponds or saw-pits that disappear between different map editions, usually in back gardens.
If the Lidar imagery of an area is high enough, I've also been able to spot lenses of tipping down banks or into pits before I've been able to get out to the site.
Crikey
I fancy going bottle digging again ::g
The nls maps website is brilliant for fading maps out over google earth imagery....
See you at the tip!
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Re: Bottle digging safety and digging tips

Post by Oxgirl36 » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:17 pm

Gawd I’m going to have to update it again aren’t I? Quit with the good info sharing or I’ll be doing updates every day ;) :D

Seriously nice to get such good info, and even more people involved too OooO
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Re: Bottle digging guide

Post by Lowland » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:51 pm

One of the best tip hunting resources is the old timers.....
Talk to the older inhabitants of the villages and farms,
Good excuse to go down the pub =D>
One memorable dump was found by reading an interview with an old village wifie
-one of her memories was her brother burning his back side badly on still hot fire ash
while sliding down an active dump site back in the day-on a teatray somebody had thrown out
Ouch
::g
Another good contact can be digger drivers,one estate driver i knew was a mine of information.
He had a stonking collection.
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Re: Bottle digging guide

Post by Lowland » Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:44 pm

ALWAYS check your spoilheap-small items like marbles ,inks ,button lids and the like
Can end up shovelled out of the hole unseen.
Not forgetting ointment pots!
Cheers kenleyboy ::g
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