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Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:36 pm
by Pyromancer
Had a successfull, if not cold and damp, trip to Ampthill today with Toxophilite.

We found the coin even though several other people had previously tried (including Toxophilite) just after the clue was first released on facebook (September 2012).

I'll do a proper write up of our adventure and post it on here within the next day or two, for everyone to read.

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:46 pm
by kev_in_cornwall
Hello done Chaps, :D Looking forward to hearing all the details (didn't think it was going to be very sunny today).

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:43 pm
by Pyromancer
In a fit of enthusiasum, I've written it all up in one sitting.

I was going to attach it as a .PDF file, but the forum doesn't allow them, so here's the text cut and pasted below, pictures inserted thanks to help from Kev:

Ampthill Coin Search
The Angry Queen Masquerades Again!
Finder of the coin can choose one of the Black and Gold isis series of puzzles as their reward.
Clue: Only 2 inches down rather than 18
The coin number begins 0155****** Good Luck.

The compass may be designed to mislead?

Original location of buried hare, might be helpful

Within a few days of the clue being posted on Facebook, several people (including Toxophilite) had visited St Katharine’s Cross in Ampthill park, but none of them could find any trace of the coin that had been hidden there, leading to the belief that someone had already uncovered it, but didn’t realise what they had.

Anyway, being a fan of Kit William’s ‘Masquerade’, I decided to visit Ampthill at the next available Equinox (20th March 2013) as the shadow that marked the original burial site of the Masquerade golden hare would be in the right place at midday.

If you don’t know about Masquerade check out the following two links:

Having been chatting with Toxophilite on the Isis Adventure Forum about a different coin hidden in Devon (found by Kev-in-Cornwall), we decided to join forces, as he’d mentioned taking another look at Ampthill.

We met in the car park at Ampthill park on the morning of Wednesday 20th March, a very wet, misty and overcast day – not exactly ideal for identifying a spot from the fall of a shadow!
Toxophilite had found a website where you could plot the length and direction of shadows for different times on different days – I’d taken a look at it and got very confused! Anyway, Toxophilite had printed off a couple of pages showing where the shadow should be at midday for both the spring equinox and autumn equinox (the same place if using GMT, but a few meters different if using British summer/winter times).

We had the compass bearings from the cross and the distance of 28 feet that Toxophilite had worked out from Google earth, plus the GPS co-ordinates of where the tip of the shadow would have been. However, Toxophilite’s satnav wasn’t accurate enough to pinpoint the different places (wish I’d bought my Geocaching GPS with me).

We guessed that the plinth of the cross had a radius of 8 feet, so we poked a tape measure through the fence and measured an extra 20 feet out at an angle of 342.5 degrees (or as close as we could get with the compasses we had) here we stuck a twig in the ground as a reference and scanned around it using Toxophilite’s metal detector – but no luck.

Toxophilite had previously found Isis coins elsewhere and had bought them with him, so we put one on the floor and used it to calibrate his metal detector – we found that we got a better indication when we set it to make a noise when it wasn’t detecting anything, but to go silent when it went over an Isis coin.
I had a theory that the compass shown in the clue and the phrase ‘The compass may be designed to mislead?’ was a reference to the way that Kit Williams had used a magnet to allow him to find the exact spot when he returned at night to bury his golden hare – I figured that the coin would have a magnet with it to help us find it.

So I tried scanning the ground with a compass while Toxophilite continued with his metal detector. Toxophilite got a signal, so we cut out a small piece of turf with a knife and had a dig, still had a metal detector reading after we’d excavated 5 inches down – as the clue said 2 inches down, we decided to stop, maybe we’d have found a new golden hare at that spot if we’d dug the full 18 inches!

After a brief interlude with some friendly dogs coming over to see what we were playing at, I had a go with the metal detector and I too got a signal. Another excavation, but still no coin.
Now we were getting bored and Toxophilite wanted to try a theory of his with regard to the mention of the coin number starting with ‘0155……’. Toxophilite thought the coin might be on the same compass bearing as where the shadow should fall, but at 155 metres from the cross, so we proceeded down a steep hill almost to the edge of a lake.

When we got there we found that we couldn’t see the cross when we were on the correct bearing – even with no leaves on the trees (the trunks and branches of several large trees blocked the view), so after trying the metal detector we tried to find an easy way up the hill, but to no avail, so puffing and panting we took a seat and rested for a while on a park bench.

The arm of the bench looked a little bit like that wood the compass was resting on in the clue photo, but it wasn’t the right thickness or shape, so we investigated the next bench on the way back to the cross and found that it was a perfect match (the dowel pin was in the right place).
Toxophilite searched under the bench to see if the coin was stuck there with chewing gum, like the Devon coin found by Kev had been, but no luck.

We scanned around the bench with the metal detector and got a signal, excavated a bit and uncovered the remains of the wooden shuttering used to cast the concrete that the bench was resting on. Decided that it must be a nail in the shuttering as we didn’t fancy trying to break up the concrete to try and find a coin.

We headed back to the cross and decided to widen our metal detector search area and scan a 2 metre wide arc around the northern side of the cross in case the shadow calculations were wrong or we’d made a mistake somewhere.

Toxophilite was getting bored, but I persevered , got signals at both of our previous excavations to the west of our marker twig. Decided to work my way back to the east past the twig, so we’d have covered an arc of about 40 degrees each side of the marker twig.

I got level with the twig and the detector went silent at a point just two to three feet north of the twig. I scanned north – south and east – west with the detector and scratched a cross in the ground where I thought it was. Toxophilite used a stud detector to point-point the spot more accurately – I was about an inch or so out. I ran my compass over the area and got a huge deflection (the compass had only twitched a little at the sites of our previous excavations).

We cut a 5 inch square of turf and levered up the corner nearest the pin-pointed signal to reveal a rubbery lump buried about 2 inches down.
We cut it open to reveal an Isis Coin with a serial number that started 0155……, there were four strong disc magnets inside the rubber, which caused the compass needle to deflect when close by.
We then re-buried the coin/magnets and re-created the discovery so we could video it. I’ll try and post the video somewhere later.

As Toxophilite had previously found Isis coins, he kindly let me have this one – he even bought me coffee and a cake in Ampthill while we tried to warm up after several hours of hunting in the cold and damp – what a gent.

Hope you enjoyed this account of our little adventure.

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:06 pm
by kev_in_cornwall
Fascinating story (I really thought it would be associated with the bench :cry: )

2 feet out in 28 feet is not too bad (unless you are looking for a wreck miles off shore :shock: ). Was it Toxophilite's calculations that were wrong :oops: or your measurements :oops: ? A more plausible explanation is surely a freak atmospheric distortion or gravitational anomaly (like Santa Cruz Mystery spot) which messed it all up for both of you :D

Now that you have the exact location do you think there was any significance at all to the 155 or compass settings?

Regarding the uploading of pictures, I had to consult my teenage son, but from memory:-
upload pictures to sharing website like google picasa
select picture and copy the link to the picture from the address bar (sometimes there is a "link" option on web page if you have set it for sharing)
insert img "Image" tag and paste "link to picture" between the [img]&[/img] tags

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:58 pm
by Toxophilite
Lack of sun was the biggest problem on both of my visits. The mistake I made in September was that I didn't research the equinox shadow thing thoroughly enough. I had read that the shadow points due North and is of the same length at 12 noon on both equinoxes. The problem is that Vernal Equinox is in GMT (Clocks don't go forward until last Sunday in March) and Autumnal Equinox is BST (clocks don't go back again until last Sunday in October). So if the coin was buried by the noon shadow in Spring it would lie within a few degrees of due North, but in Autumn it points 17.5 degrees West of North (because its only really 11:00 am). If you use the estimated shadow length of 28 ft. this puts the Autumn shadow 7 feet West and a 1 foot North of the Spring shadow. The place we found it seemed more like the noon Autumnal shadow.

I've tried to illustrate it in this photo:
A line drawn from the centre of the cross through the plaque on the octagonal fence points due north (you can see it quite clearly on Google Earth), the hole is further to the West.

Would be nice to know exactly when it was buried to confirm if this was the source of the error.

When I left my house yesterday morning it was actually snowing again so roll on British Summer Time :D

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:13 pm
by Pyromancer
Thanks for the guidance Kev.

There should now be six pictures within the account of my and Toxophilite's adventure (above).

I've sent a copy of my original .PDF to Puzz so he can post it on Facebook, etc.

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:18 pm
by Pyromancer
The 0155 ... seems to be just the starting number of the coin.

We tried looking 155 meters from the cross, but nothing there.

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:31 pm
by Pyromancer
Video should be uploaded shortly:

Hope you enjoy the short video.

Had to shorten the write up pf our adventure, as the description box only allows about 4,800 characters.

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:15 pm
by Pyromancer
I heard back from Sonic Games, the coin was originally hidden at midday on the september 2012 exquinox and the clue published a day or so later.

So Toxophilite was right in his theory that they hadn't allowed for british summer time, so the location was 1 hour different to the original golden hares burial site.

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:34 pm
by kev_in_cornwall
Or maybe the compass pointing (about) 15degrees west of magnetic north was a clue to being 1 hour early (earth rotates at 15degrees/hour).
Also 20th March equinox 2013 definition that I found was 11:02 UTC which is also 1 hour early !!

Maybe PUZZ doesn't make mistakes :shock: (although he did with the original Saturn figures for Copernisis solution :roll: )

Anyhow, all academic now, the important thing is you've found it. :D

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:29 pm
by Pyromancer
As there was no shadow on the 20th, I couldn't say if the location was right or not.

Toxophilite's calculations required us to deduct 17.5degrees from magnetic north 15 degrees plus 2.5 degrees magnetic variation?

And that bearing was correct, as the coin was found just 2 or three feet beyond where we originally stuck our twig in the ground.

I've got the bug now and I'm looking forward to the new searches section on the website and the associated new searches - can't wait.

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:21 am
by Toxophilite
I think the problem was that we measured the angle standing in front of the plaque. That is ok for due North because the bearing passes through the centre of the cross, but when you measure the 17.5 degree vector from that point you virtually halve the bearing because you're standing about half the length of the shadow North of the cross centre. What we should have done was calculate the North and West components of the shadow, put a marker North of the plaque at a distance corresponding to the North component and then from that point measure due West the distance of the West component.

Re: Ampthill Coin

PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:51 pm
by Pyromancer
Hindsight is a wonderful thing!