It's an iron ball ... about 3 inches in diameter. It's solid, not hollow, and I doubt it contains explosives. I don't have a scale, so I don't know exactly what it weighs.
I'm going to find someone to ask, to see if maybe it's some sort of Civil War artifact. Our property has been a farm since 1837, and our county was home to tens of thousands of Union soldiers each winter during the war. The area where I was digging has seen lots of changes since then ... I was up by the barn, which probably built in the early 1900s. If this thing is 150+ years old, I doubt it's been in the spot where I found it during all of that time.
I have errands to run this afternoon, and I plan to run by the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor's Center to ask one of their people about it. I'll let you know what I find out.
There's been a lot happening around here this month ... and I have been working hard on things, but not taking the time to document what I'm doing so I can blog about it. (It gets me distracted and off track, I hope you understand.) There are a few roses in the garden that are just beginning to bloom. The seasonably-cool weather we're having has slowed things down, and I doubt bloom will progress much for the next week or so. Whenever the wind dies down, I'll get out there with my camera and show them to you.
I'm planning for the upcoming rose season ... weeding, trimming, training, planting, and (as soon as I get some) mulching. Parts of the garden look beautiful, other parts are still pretty horrible. It is what it is, and I will make the best of it and do what I can.
Here's the scoop .... I showed my find to the folks at the Visitor's Center. They sent me across the street to the Civil War Store. The guy who runs that place is an expert on relics, and I was assured that he could identify MY relic. He looked it over, saw the mold mark (which I missed) and promptly proclaimed it to be a ball from a Colonial era 3-pounder ... probably Revolutionary War!!! Their other store has an identical one on display, which was found here in Hartwood, too. He said that there was a lot of 18th Century activity in my area. (When confronted with a fascinating mystery like this, it certainly helps to live in a place with such a concentration of history experts.)
This ball is solid iron, so it's completely safe to handle ... as long as I don't drop it on my foot. I want to thank those of you who saw this here and on FB, and called to make sure that I didn't do something stupid with it and blow myself up. It's great to have such good friends.