A metal detectorist was left disappointed when an item of ‘gold’ that he discovered on Minster Beach in Sheerness turned out to be a 19th century artillery shell. An Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team from the Royal Navy destroyed the UXO in a controlled explosion on the beach shortly after the discovery.
The item was confirmed as a Palliser shell, an early design of armour-piercing projectile invented by Sir William Palliser in the 1860s. This type of ordnance was designed for use by coastal batteries against enemy warships, with the intention of breaching the reinforced hulls of the vessels from a safe distance. It remained in use until the early 20th century.
Given that the Sheerness coastline was long considered an area vulnerable to invasion it had numerous coastal observation and artillery posts, many of which saw regular use.
There are also of records of practice artillery firing taking place from Barton’s Point, just along the coast from yesterday’s discovery.
Metal detectorists are advised to exercise caution when excavating items along Britain’s oft-militarised coastlines. They may come across more than just treasure.