In 1996, a man with a metal detector found this fob in Peacock's field on our farm. It is silver and hallmarked 1836 and was found just in front of this little barn, where the farm horses used to be kept in days gone by. I had it cleaned up and added the silver chain. The reverse side probably held a compass although only vestiges of it remain. It was found just below the surface of the grass. I have thought often about how it came to be there and have written the following fictional account of one way in which it could have been lost.
The farmer looked up towards Zebra Hill. All day the hill had stood out against the purple-black of an angry sky. Sometimes a glishy sun had illuminated the few scrappy pines on the top. Then a squall would pass over. Great drops of rain, each one a miniature prism in the bright sunlight, would race across the field, while the farmer watched in wonder at the raw beauty of the weather.
The haystacks were thatched, the fields were cropped short, the corn and root crops were all harvested. Now the land needed the Autumn rain.
The worst kind of weather always came from behind Zebra Hill, from the North, sweeping down from the moorland into the valley floor. In the coming Winter there would be days of bone-chilling cold, when the walk from the house to the barn to feed and water the horses in the evening would be a chore, carried out in the darkness, the storm lantern swinging against the farmer's body as he walked. The rain would be lashing down or the snow would be almost too
deep to wade through. But always he would have to struggle through to his beloved horses, who were such an integral part of the farm and who would be standing in their stalls, waiting patiently as they always did, for their food to arrive.
But tonight, as the setting sun swept bars of orange light across the heavy clouds, the farmer felt a glow of satisfaction. He owned this land. He had worked it in all weathers. And this year he had fulfilled the promises of Summer by getting everything in safely before Winter set in.
He took out his pocket watch and looked at the time. The watch face, tinted palest pink by the setting sun, said seven o'clock. How the nights were drawing in, he thought.
Pulling his watch chain across his ample chest, he tucked the watch back into his waistcoat pocket and strode across the field for home, his work for the day finished. The smell of mown grass mingled with the smell of Autumn bonfires and that of home cooking from the farmhouse kitchen across the field.
It was only when he took out his watch on going upstairs to bed later that night that he saw that his treasured fob was missing from his watch-chain. He searched the fields in the days and weeks to come but it was not to be found for another 160 years.