Touching the hand of history™

Discovery Tours

Your Hosts

It goes without saying that the Discovery Tours team has a passion for history. We find metal detecting adds an extra dimension as detectorists can get hands on with the historical artefacts lying in wait beneath the soil. That is why we extend the unique invitation to you to ‘touch the hand of history'.

The Discovery Tours team includes myself, Jimmy Sierra, based in California, as well as David and Trish Barwell, lifelong detectorists, who are our hosts in England.

Jimmy’s story

Early in my career as a treasure hunter I became keenly aware of those things that put chills up the back of my neck. It was the well worn coin I found in Murphys, CA with the map of a miner's claim scratched on the back, more than the Wells Fargo bag stuffed with silver dollars I recovered from the ‘Faith Healers Hoard’. I knew this then and I know it now, but we have to be reminded of things like this from time to time, and it is England that can do this for you.

After I returned from my first ‘detecting’ trip to England in 1985, I knew that I had been bitten again by the bug that curses all who dare to touch the hand of history.

For in England, more than 2000 years of man's footprints can be traced. From Bronze Age settlements to Iron Age Celtic sites, from Roman villas to Saxon , Viking and Medieval villages, the width and breadth of Britain holds its ‘treasures’ of aged coins and artefacts hidden under a carpet of rich and ancient soil.

In my many articles on metal detecting, I have always tried to convey the fact that ‘treasure’ does not necessarily mean jewels or precious metals and that the real ‘treasure’ gained by metal detectorists is the experience of following their dreams and the interesting and wonderful people they meet along the way.

It is this realization that calls me to return to England again and again.

David's story (The UK Organiser of Discovery Tours)

I began metal detecting in 1977 and joined my local club, then became chairman during the 1980’s. Early on I found I enjoyed historical research and this led me to discover many productive sites to detect.

At the same time my friends and I were fighting hard against repression of the hobby from Archaeologists and this led to us eventually forming the Southern Region of the National Council for Metal Detecting (NCMD).

I was also an organiser of the South of England Rally, the biggest of its kind, and it was in 1990 that the County Archaeologist tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the event. It was at the rally that I met ‘Jimmy Sierra’ for the first time, visiting from the US.

Sometime after the rally, we sat down and did some hard talking with the County Archaeologist and subsequently formed the Kent Archaeological Detecting Liaison Group (KADLG), chaired by the County Archaeologist or myself. This group was instrumental in creating the cooperation and good relations with archaeology you see today.

Meanwhile Jimmy Sierra arranged a trip for Americans who wanted to detect in England legally and responsibly, whereby I provided that framework on researched farms for Jimmy’s group

In the 1990’s I became, firstly Vice-Chairman, then Chairman of the nationwide NCMD. I promoted and supported the formation of the new Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and was involved with the inception of the new 1996 Treasure Act. I represented the NCMD as a member of the Portable Antiquities steering group, which consisted of heritage organisations.

In 2006 I stood down as Chairman of the NCMD although the metal detecting hobby, together with archaeology is still my passion and I keep abreast of UK and international hobby issues and remain in contact with the NCMD, museums and archaeologists, as well as maintaining a hands on experience with Discovery Tours by continuing to research sites and organising the annual trips to East Anglia, in conjunction with Jimmy Sierra. The highlight culminates in arranging the detecting sites, identifying and recording the day’s haul of finds, and seeing the many friends I have made through the hobby.

David,  Jimmy & Trish