Implications of White Lead?

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Pete E
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Implications of White Lead?

Post by Pete E » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:20 pm

What are the implications of excessive amounts of old white lead blobs in an area?

On one permission there are two areas where the ground is riddled with the stuff. One area is quite localised in the corner of a field, while the other is much larger and surrounds and over grown pond.

On a local history web site they state many of the ponds in the area are thought to be post medieval and are in fact old clay pits, but I am wondering if this particular pond was where lead ore was dug and processed nearby?

Neither area has turned up any other finds of note, so I am not sure what to make of them?


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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by stargazer » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:27 pm

Well the romans came here to the UK,particularly your area, for the gold. But also for the lead.
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Easylife » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:37 pm

White lead often indicates very old activity so maybe worth searching the area well. ::g
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Pete E » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:37 pm

stargazer wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:27 pm
Well the romans came here to the UK,particularly your area, for the gold. But also for the lead.
Yes, there are the remains of Roman lead mines in quite a few of the mountain areas around here, but this permission is on low land farmland and there are no signs of any of the workings usually found else where.

I did wonder whether the lead might being processed here after being mined several miles away?

One of the local farmers I talked to about it thought the lead blobs might be natural but to me they look like they have been molten at some stage...
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Pete E » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:39 pm

Easylife wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:37 pm
White lead often indicates very old activity so maybe worth searching the area well. ::g
That was my initial thought but after an hour or so in one area with nothing to show but 47 lead blobs my enthusiasm waned a bit lol....
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Lowland » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:45 pm

Pete E wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:39 pm
Easylife wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:37 pm
White lead often indicates very old activity so maybe worth searching the area well. ::g
That was my initial thought but after an hour or so in one area with nothing to show but 47 lead blobs my enthusiasm waned a bit lol....
Hi ,sounds like Blob fatigue!
The one clue you are after could be amongst them,
There might also be something superb .
It sounds like an hour at a time might be enough:D
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Easylife » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:51 pm

Pete E wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:37 pm
One of the local farmers I talked to about it thought the lead blobs might be natural but to me they look like they have been molten at some stage...
Lead's natural form is contained within an ore. I once detected a field in an area of Roman lead mines, that contained lots of white lead but also some Roman and hammered coins. It would get my interest. :D ::g
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by sweepstick47 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:12 am

whilst on the subject of old lead with a white oxidised powder coating present, remember it's hazardous. Handle safely and avoid inhaling the surface dust/powder. Stay safe ::g Regards ss47
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by detectorman5050 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:03 am

I was about to ask the same question about the lead blobs, but Pete beat me to it. I'm finding them spread all over fields at multiple locations, and they are a pain in the backside.

The larger blobs give a highish tone on my detector, sounding similar to coins, and can often be picked up at significant depth. ;;z
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by shaggybfc » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:28 am

I like areas that contain lead blobs, and have found some reasonable finds in amongst it. The more you did, the less it will mask the other items below and around it.
As Lowland has said, if it’s doing your crust in, limit your time on that area, little and often.
Good luck ::g
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by jcmaloney » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:31 am

Lead is a sign of human activity, it didn`t fall off a tree!

Lead, silver & gold sit closely on the periodic table so dismiss it at your peril. ::g
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Pete E » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:47 am

Thanks for the relies folks...It looks like I need to grit my teeth and just get on with it..Will probably do it an hour at a time as suggested.

To complicate matters further, the lead doesn't come up with a constant TID on my Racer ..I am not sure if that's down to short comings with the machine or the lead not being pure...

As an afterthought on this thread, it seems that very old lead is actually much valued by the electronics industry and in the States at least sells for many times more that modern lead..

If anybody is interested google "Low Alpha Lead" ..Sadly it looks like the collection and verification process is beyond the realms of us Amateurs, which is a pity as we would all have been in for a windfall!
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Lowland » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:04 am

Pete E wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:47 am
Thanks for the relies folks...It looks like I need to grit my teeth and just get on with it..Will probably do it an hour at a time as suggested.

To complicate matters further, the lead doesn't come up with a constant TID on my Racer ..I am not sure if that's down to short comings with the machine or the lead not being pure...

As an afterthought on this thread, it seems that very old lead is actually much valued by the electronics industry and in the States at least sells for many times more that modern lead..

If anybody is interested google "Low Alpha Lead" ..Sadly it looks like the collection and verification process is beyond the realms of us Amateurs, which is a pity as we would all have been in for a windfall!
That’s the spirit!
My old lead goes to a chap who casts his own lead figures and the like,
He much prefers the older stuff.
AM googling low alpha lead now ::g
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by detectorman5050 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:44 am

On this topic, I just tried the CTX 3030's 'coin preset,' to see if it would discriminate out lead of various sizes; I am afraid it doesn't. Even on the coin setting, a small bag seal gives a mid tone, and a large lead spinning top gives a highish tone.

So to discriminate out all lead I am guessing you would have to create your own pattern, and probably end up discriminating out certain coins in the process.
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Mugwamp » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:30 pm

I've always been quite happy finding the early oxidised lead pieces as nearly always a precursor to finding early coinage. I always kept a tub which the lead went into and when I had a sizeable amount took it to scrapyard and weighed it in. In the 80's when I was scuba diving I bought a mould for divers weights and was turning out same for the guys in the club. Just my take on the subject and would like to reiterate, the white lead oxide is toxic and should be treated with respect. :)

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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by littleboot » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:40 pm

Lead was the all-purpose filler, mastic and gorilla glue for over a thousand years. Hole in a receptacle? Blob of lead. Gap that needs sealing? Blob of lead. Window glass needs fixing? Blob of lead? Need a rough weight? Blob of lead. You get the picture. (Insert picture of blob of lead here.) All things to all men which is why we get so many lead blobs for ID. The ID they get is usually...Blob of lead. :))
Lead always equals activity. So never ignore it, Lots of blobs could, for example be the blobs that held 'leaded' glass together. It may be that it was being used to make lead shot or musket balls etc. I had an area that seemed to be about that, among it I found a lead seal from the 14th century. (I think it was in a post medieval scrap bucket and was due to be melted down. )
Some of my best finds have been made of lead ( a papal bulla in first class nick and 7 pilgrims ampullae so far). So don't be tempted to ignore it.
By the way, clay pit ponds are a good tell for old habitation. Most of the old ponds in my area of Normandy were dug to provide the material for the daub (along with horsehair straw etc) that infilled the timbers and covered the wattle. After the house was built they then had a pond for watering their livestock. Two bangs for their buck.
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Easylife » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:05 pm

Pete E wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:47 am
To complicate matters further, the lead doesn't come up with a constant TID on my Racer ..I am not sure if that's down to short comings with the machine or the lead not being pure...
The larger the lead the higher the target ID will be on any machine. ::g
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Easylife » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:11 pm

detectorman5050 wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:44 am
On this topic, I just tried the CTX 3030's 'coin preset,' to see if it would discriminate out lead of various sizes; I am afraid it doesn't. Even on the coin setting, a small bag seal gives a mid tone, and a large lead spinning top gives a highish tone.
So to discriminate out all lead I am guessing you would have to create your own pattern, and probably end up discriminating out certain coins in the process.
Yes, dependent upon size lead will come in at virtually every target number so by discriminating any of it out you will also be discrimination possible good targets. I don't mind digging lead at all, where there's lead there will be other finds, and it also mounts up to cover some fuel when scrapped as does copper & brass. ::g
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Easylife » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:16 pm

As a rough guide the grey fairly clean lead is usually up to a few hundred years old whereas the white crusty lead is more likely to be about Medieval or older, though ground conditions can affect this.
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by littleboot » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:31 pm

Its very hard to tell. A 750 year old bulla came up clean as a whistle and not crusty at all, Its like everything else in this game....so many unknown quantities and variables make it an art rather than a science.
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Easylife » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:37 am

littleboot wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:31 pm
Its very hard to tell. A 750 year old bulla came up clean as a whistle and not crusty at all, Its like everything else in this game....so many unknown quantities and variables make it an art rather than a science.
I agree Jan that we can only make best guesses based on what has been proven to be fact. But hey, another excuse to show off my Papal bullla again, it's been a while! Pope Urban IV 1261-4. :D A most least expected find from a quiet part of a pasture field laying flat at 14 inches deep so had escaped the plough in Medieval times! It's actually very white in appearance but I only minimally clean lead to leave a good contrast. :D
Papal bulla.jpg
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by amphora » Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:50 pm

All said. Need i say more?
Old lead (medieval/roman/celtic) is white. White and shaped lead, great!
Good luck hunting.
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Re: Implications of White Lead?

Post by Ruffers22 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:45 pm

Biggest lump of lead I've dug at nearly 3kg and nicely shaped it certainly made the Equinox sing =))
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