Reply To: why so many buttons and thimbles in the fields
Here are a few suggestions as to why buttons and thimbles are found so often when detecting:
Thimbles were not originally used for sewing, but for a much more practical use. Farm workers who had just finished cutting the corn had to go and collect the bushels of corn and stand them up so they stayed dry. Corn stubble is very sharp and splinters get infected very easily. A splinter in medieval times could have led to the loss of a finger or even a hand or death. Therefore you would have a thimble on every finger to help prevent this and this is why you find thimbles on virtually every field.
There are several plausible reasons why so many buttons are found in fields. There was a fertilizer, which was known as shoddy, that was usually the waste from recycled cotton and wool material that couldn’t be put back into cloth made in cotton mills and weaving mills in the 19th and 20th century. Also, farming was hard work and done by huge numbers of labourers before the advent of the industrial revolution. That amount of people working the land would have led to the loss of loads of cast off bits of clothing. I think we find buttons for the same reason we find buckles and strap ends. Then there are the military and livery buttons and cap badges etc. we find so many of. Not all uniforms were destroyed after they were no longer needed for duty. For a lot of men returning from war, the only work available was on farms as labourers. So the uniforms continued to be used on the farms by these men, which inevitably led to losses of buttons in particular. There is also the possibility that a lot of buttons are found as a result of clothes/uniforms being buried as landfill or burnt on bonfires.