Discovering History with Harold Peacock

12 Aug 2019

Australian detectorist Harold Peacock is dedicated to unearthing history with Minelab. Armed with knowledge and experience in journalism, history, and archaeology, Harold has a passion for uncovering stories – visiting historical locations to find lost and forgotten relics and connecting them to real people.

His website, History Out There, showcases the finds and the stories he discovers with his Minelab CTX 3030 and Safari detectors – from 1940s Australian coins, to peridot rings that were popular with Cleopatra, to a Sherlock Holmes style pocket watch from the 1900s, to WW2 relics discovered in Brisbane park.

Minelab spoke with Harold about his work and passion for detecting.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am an author, historian and detectorist and I run a metal-detecting and history website, History Out There. I also give presentations to history groups and make occasional radio appearances on my local station.

I believe I have a rare combination of skills. I have an undergraduate degree in journalism and have studied history, archaeology, and genealogy. My journalistic curiosity, love of history, and archaeological research techniques means that I seem to uncover stories that others do not.

Harold hosting a history presentation.

What makes you so passionate about detecting history?

I love finding relics of lost and forgotten history, connecting them with real people, and bringing them all alive in their own story. The awesome Minelab technology will find what has been lost and then I use what I find to give history a tactile dimension beyond traditional dates and photos.

What is your most memorable find? 

I love telling this story! It’s not the oldest or most valuable, but is the most fascinating. I was searching around an 1866 Methodist Church and found some coins as old as a 1870s Queen Victoria threepence. The church council asked me to detect in the garden for some graves rumoured to be there from the plague. Initially, I wasn’t too keen, but I quickly found a 1944 penny, followed by several WW2 relics, including 5 army buttons, an officer’s shoulder star, two brooches, and an Australian Army Rising Sun nurses' collar badge. I got excited knowing I had a chance to find out who lost it!

Then, I found some RAAF artefacts, including some badges and buckles. I discovered that the nurse’s badge belonged to a woman called Marjory, who only lived five minutes away and whose grandfather was a minister at the church. The RAAF artefacts belonged to an officer named Alfred. Two weeks after they returned from the war, Alfred got married to someone else. Marjoy never married or had children. I’ve not found any proof, but I do speculate that Marjory’s heart was broken and she buried her wartime memorabilia in the back garden of her grandfather’s church.

Read the full story here.

Sterling silver nurses' buckle, Australian Army Rising Sun Collar Badge, Australian Army buttons and officers' shoulder star.

Why did you choose Minelab? Which detectors do you own?

As I wanted to do something different with history, I researched my options and Minelab was the only technology that seemed streets ahead – particularly with discrimination. Since the Minelab dealers have an awesome passion for detecting, I wouldn’t go anywhere else.

I have the CTX 3030 and Safari and my detectorist buddy George has the EQUINOX 800. The CTX 3030 finds even the smallest piece of history others have left behind (and with far less digging). Many times, I have gone to a site and been told that I won’t find anything because it’s been detected before. You can only laugh, because the CTX 3030 is like a vacuum for history.

We love your stories, “How An Aerial Photo Found Two Lost Ladies” and “Cleopatra Found In A City Park” – which detectors did you use and how did they work for you?

I used the CTX for the “Two Ladies” story – it was pretty nice and unexpected to find the cornerstone of the original church. For the Cleopatra, I used both the CTX and the EQUINOX, which uncovered great finds. We detected in a very old, well-used park dated back to the 1840s. It was hard to find the items because it had been detected many times before. Although I couldn’t identify who had lost these items, it was special to unearth the peridot ring and its connection to Cleopatra.

Read "How An Aerial Photo Found Two Lost Ladies" here.

Read "Cleopatra Found In A City Park" here

Peridot ring. 

What plans do you have for the future?

There are a number of projects I’m pretty excited about at the moment! I’m trying to find who owned the Army officers’ “mounted mess button” from 1835 — 1850, as there’s only a few officers who it could have belonged to back in the convict days. I have also been invited to detect and research a Cobb & Co changing station that’s never been searched before – I’ve been told I won’t find anything there, so the gauntlet has been thrown!



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