Archaeology vs Metal Detecting.

Around some metal detecting sites on the net there is a lot of debate going on regarding Archaeology vs Metal Detecting. I do find these debates interesting and am a frequent visitor to them. I always come away with a bit more knowledge and understanding about the issues at hand. There don't seem to be a solution in the near future on how Archaeologists and Detectorists can coexist, though in my opinion Detectorists are making more of an effort to achieve this as some ideas put forward from some responsible detecting sites are good and I think a step in the right direction.

I have no answers myself, I can understand both parties points of view and like most detectorists and I hope archaeologists, would like to see a solution where everyone is happy. Will it happen, that remains to be seen. Although I have only been detecting for a couple of years as far as I can see this debate has been going on for years with no concrete answers and I can't help feeling unless something is put in place soon then our hobby of metal detecting could be in danger of ending.

As I said,  I am interested in this debate and surf the net a lot about it looking for answers, maybe looking to see if there is a solution at hand only to find there isn't. The debate just goes on and on, sometimes turning into slagging and mud throwing matches which can be entertaining sometimes and even amongst these slagging matches there can be found some good points of views.

Now what brought me to make this post was earlier I was surfing the net regarding this debate and came across an old thread on the Treasurenet Website. Its dated April 03 2009, so just over five years old but a good read. Although its an American site and they have different laws regarding metal detecting there, It relates to about the same thing we are debating now here in the UK. In that forum thread there is a lot of points of views, all done in a respectable manner with 'hardly' any mud slinging. Some of you may have already read it but worth another look as you never know, you may pick up on something you may have forgotten, those who have not read it before its sure worth a read. So instead of copy/pasting quotes from the site I have given the link at the end of this post so you can read the whole thing.

Some of the input on that thread opened my eyes a bit more and has helped me to understand why there is still no solution. Have a read, you never know, it may give you some answers or at least get you thinking about a way forward.
The link to the thread is:


  1. Ask your average metal detectorist to comment on Archaeology and the chances are his/her views will be shaped in some way by what they have seen on time Team.
    Ask an Archaeologist his views on Metal Detecting and more than likely, his/her views will be based around what they have seen on TV and read in the Newspapers.
    The question we have to ask ourselves as metal detectorists is are we getting much positive press? Are we seen to be doing the right thing?
    Like most people in this world, I hear peoples views on all matter of things, do I take their word as gospel and subscribe blindly to their way of thinking? Of course I dont, if I'm really that interested I will do my own research and based on that form my own opinion. That as I have said is more than likely what the vast majority of people do.
    So with this in mind, take your average Archaeology student, put yourself in their mind and start looking around the internet for information you can then form into an opinion.
    Check out the local press for stories on metal detecting and you either get a story about some bloke whos found a hoard or someone who has been convicted of metal detecting illegally or night hawking. Fair enough that what Newspapers do.
    Youre next port of call in the UK would have to be the NCMD??? Not a bad idea as your going to get "our side of the story" in that. Have a good look at that website, first thing that strikes you is visually its very poor (imo). That aside lets find a few pages where "our governing body" condemn anyone found detecting illegally and putting metal detcting in general in a bad light, backing it up with some positive view point. The silence is somewhat deafening. This is unforgivable imo. How can you form an unbiased opinion when the very people who are supposed to govern us say nothing?
    Getting away from the negatives, think about some of the fantastic treasures that people just like me and you have found over the years..The Snettisham Torc's, Staffordshire Hoard, Hoxne Treasure etc etc, not to mention all the single coin finds and coin hoards that metal detectorists have found. No mention of metal detecting can be found on the Hoxne Treasure display or the Snettisham Torc display in the British Museum...I have no issue with this as its the BM, and they dont seem to recognise any finder of anything I have looked at, be it a Detectorist, Archaeologist or anyone else.
    You would think that the NCMD would shout this kind of publicity from the roof tops...Once again, dont hold your breath while you search their website.

    " The National Council for Metal Detecting is a representative body of elected volunteers formed in 1981 to provide a means whereby responsible metal detector users would have a democratic forum to discuss problems affecting the hobby and to provide an authoritative voice to counter ill -informed and frequently misleading criticism of the hobby".
    This is lifted from the NCMD website,

    My favourite bit "provide an authoritative voice to counter ill -informed and frequently misleading criticism of the hobby". They aint doing it!
    I have emailed the NCMD (more than once} over the last 3 years to put across my concerns and views, I would love to show you their reply but as of yet I still havent had one! I have posted my views on a few MD Forums only to have the posts deleted and my account cancelled. Seems you cant rock the boat or at the very least try in some way to justify why "some" archaeologists hold the views they have.

    I live in hope!


  2. Interesting reply there Jordan. One thing in your reply was interesting in its self was about the silence from the metal detectorists. In my honest opinion this silence is deliberate so as not to draw attention to ourselves for one reason or another. Hence why some forums will pull the plug on a debate of this nature. Not sure if that'a a good or bad thing for us, but these forums do more than often show detectorists in a good light by all the finds that do get reported, also on these forums it is encouraged to report finds that qualify as treasure or might be treasure.

    But like you, I would like to shout it from the rooftops about the good detectorists do, one reason why I have on my blog a 'Treasure in the News' page and a 'Detecting in the News' page. Even today I've put up another treasure find that could re-write the history of that area where it was found. What more do these anti-detecting bodies want as proof we do a service to our heritage.

  3. I agree Janner. Most of the forums and blogs for that matter do show metal detecting in a good light and rightly so in my opinion. I think we should "shout from the roof tops". This hobby has contributed a great deal to help people understand our history, its something we should be very proud of.
    My main gripe is, (and probably always will be), is that the NCMD do not seem to have an opinion either way. Thats all well and good but when they claim to be "the governing body" of this hobby I expect a little bit more. There are plenty of people on the internet who are only too happy to pick up on the negative sides of what we do. Thats their opinion and they have every right to do so. Hidden amongst the childish name callings can be found some very good points. Probably like me Janner, you've read a few? It kills me to say it but in some respects they have helped me more become the detectorist I am.
    Isn't it a bit sad that its the "anti detectorist brigade" thats made me think more about what I do, how I detect and the implications it can have if finds are not recorded properly? More so than the very people who are supposed to represent me?

    Keep up the good work Janner, I promise to get down off my soap box now :D


  4. Jordan, get back up on that soap box and do what Lulu sang,,,,,SHOUT SHOUT SHOUT SHOUT SHOUT.......(I don't think your old enough to know that song).:)
    Yes a lot can be learnt from these sites. There's a couple of good responsible metal detecting blogs on my links over on the right hand side bar that I visit and learnt a lot from.

  5. Interesting post janner and some good comments from Jordan. I'm trying to learn more about archaeology not because I necessarily want to become one but I want to understand the anti detecting arguments some of them have and also what if any compromise there is.

  6. Yes Jordan brought up some good points there.
    I wish you luck in your new venture Detectorbloke and hope you find what you are looking for. At the very least it will be a great experience.

  7. haha thanks Janner, don't really know what I'm looking for :)

  8. Yes good luck to you Detectorbloke, Learning more about Archaeology can only benefit you in the long run.
    You should get yourself involved in some of the local Archaeology groups in your area, Most of them have field walking days etc, these will help you understand the sites you detect on a lot more.
    For me local Archaeology groups and local history groups was an opportunity to show people how a metal detector can be used to help build a better picture of the surroundings and more importantly from my perspective they get to see that majority of us do have a genuine interest in our history and really are not "just in it for the money".

    There HAS to be a compromise between Metal Detectorists and Archaeologists, I think most archaeologists appreciate that just as much as we do, A total ban on metal detecting would be disastrous. It wouldnt stop the people who give metal detecting a bad name anyway, they would just carry on regardless, I'm sure of that.
    This is one area where I feel the NCMD should be more vocal.
    Rome wasnt built in a day so I know things take time, but, I have been metal detecting for over 20 years now and the forums are still full of the same old arguments.
    Personally I think the way we record items needs a massive rethink as I dont really believe the PAS is working. (thats only my opinion) but thats another story for another day. :)


  9. Oh yes, totally agree if metal detecting was banned no way would that stop night hawking. In fact I think it would increase it because we have now had a taste of metal detecting for a very long time and there will be some people that just can't or don't want to give it up if a ban was imposed. Also look at the knock on effect if it was banned, no fresh supplies for the museums, some charities will dip out, no more good deeds for Joe Public like in finding their lost rings etc, finding out more about our heritage will take a drastic nose dive....sure there's other things?