How deep would a Civil War cannonball, lost and forgotten for 150 years, be buried underground?
For a group of Virginia children with a metal detector, the answer is about two feet, according to the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office.
Wednesday night, the kid’s detector started beeping and they got to digging, and soon unearthed a spherical piece of American history — a piece no museum in its right mind would have taken.
It’s not clear if the children knew exactly what they had, but they pulled it out of the York County soil and brought it home, according to a sheriff’s office release posted on Facebook.
When their parents saw what the kids had excavated, they dialed 911.
Deputies arrived and “kept an eye on things” until the proper authorities arrived; in this case, members of the Naval Weapons Station.
“They identified the object as a late Civil War cannonball from the Union Army. The cannonball possibly contained black powder based on the design,” the sheriff’s release said.
Since old age doesn’t mellow out explosives, authorities “advised they would be disposing of it,” the release said. They planned to blow it up with an explosive of their own.
Shortly after hearing the news of the cannonball, another county resident called police, worried they might also be in possession of an old explosive waiting to go off.
Authorities inspected the metal ball, which the caller had found several years ago, and determined it was safe.
“EOD responded and determined it was a shot-put (which could look similar to a cannonball….Better safe than sorry)!”
The sheriff’s office took the opportunity to remind people to be careful when digging up objects and artifacts, even around one’s own home.
“If you find something that looks like a cannonball in your yard please call 911 and let us know.”
Given the history of the southeastern United States, cannonballs are often the first thing that pops into the mind of someone who’s dug up a mysterious, round object in the region. And for safety’s sake, that may be a good mentality to have — though it’s not always the case.
For a decade, one North Carolina woman believed she had a cannonball on her hands, but after consulting an expert, learned it was “round, old looking ball of concrete,” McClatchy News previously reported.
A bit of a let down, she said, but when life takes away a cannonball, it gives a “cool conversation piece” in return. Or at least a unique doorstop.
“I’m going to keep it,” she decided. “I love it now. Even if it’s not (a cannonball), I love it.”