Day 96: Digging for buried historic treasure
What would have you creeping around the woods, poking around undergrowth, or walking along the river foreshore scraping away at the surface mud? That’s right, the once, and to a lesser degree still, popular hobby of bottle-digging. Here bottles thrown away by the Victorians (or thereabouts) become buried treasure for us modern people to collect.
I headed to the site of the old Epping Forest speedway where there are bottles that had presumably been discarded by spectators, to be found where they are uprooted by trees or burrowing animals. Interestingly, for the continuity of use as a dump, the area I knew to be the most fertile hunting-ground was covered with recently pruned tree-branches, and thus off-limits.
I wondered around for a while, finding only one brown bottle, the shape of a hip-flask. I wasn’t even sure how old it was. On the other hand it wasn’t slim pickings for modern rubbish – strewn around were milkshake bottles, cans, and recent beer bottles. But it is not the habit of an adventurous player to give up, so I searched onward.
Suddenly – and yes, this is only to be compared to a miner striking gold – I found a seam! In an area with a number of tall trees I spotted the base of an old brown bottle sticking out of a rabbit hole, and grabbed eagerly at it.
For a moment I assumed I’d cut myself on broken glass – but the pain was much worse than that. In my excitement I’d completely failed to spot the sprig of nettles at the entrance. I smashed them with a stick in fury and vengeance, until they were completely removed. In the hole, my reward: four pristine bottles – 1930s Alabaster brand.
Realize what you really want. It stops you from chasing butterflies and puts you to work digging gold. – William Moulton Marston