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A simple introduction:
PLL introduction

PLL phase detectors

An advanced course, pdf:
advanced PLL

The CD4046 PLL IC datasheet pdf:
CD4046 datasheet

I do not know how this XOR gate phase comparator is used in the Goldbug circuit. Maybe to synchronise one oscillator to another ? The "slave" PIC micro that is used to drive the complex LCD will likely operate at a lower clock frequency than the main "brains" PIC. Having two micro's generating independant electrical interference could be a problem for the analogue parts of the circuit. Synchronising one micro to the other may help control this.
It is a technique I have seen versions of in several metal detector designs.
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