Getting Started


All land in this country has an owner whose permission is needed before you start to use a metal detector.
It is illegal to use a metal detector on a scheduled ancient monument without permission.
Why not join a metal detecting club in your area affiliated to the National Council for Metal Detecting?
When you are metal detecting always follow the code of conduct of The National Council for Metal Detecting
You should note the location (ideally with a grid reference, GPS reading or ‘x’ on a map) of any archaeological objects you find and take these to your local Finds Liaison Officer to record it (Click here for your local Finds Liaison Officer)
Understand the definitions of Treasure contained in the Treasure Act of 1996 and understand your legal obligations to it.
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In brief, The Treasure Act 1996 means that finds of gold or silver objects be reported to the coroner (according to a set precious metal content criteria, see below), it also extends the definition of treasure to include other objects found in archaeological association with finds of treasure. Museums have the opportunity to acquire such ‘trove’ finds and if they do so the lawful finder normally receives the full market value (assessed by the Treasure Trove Reviewing Committee) if not the object is normally returned to the finder. The act also includes the new offence of non-declaration of treasure and states that landowners have the right to be informed of finds of treasure from their land and that they will be eligible for rewards.
Further information can be found in the Treasure Act Code of Practice, which can be downloaded (free of charge) from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's website at
Metal detectorists are strongly advised to obtain a copy of the Code of Practice which, among other things, contains guidance for detectorists, sets out guidelines on rewards, gives advice on the care of finds and has lists of useful addresses.
So What Objects Qualify as Treasure?
  1. Any metallic object other than a coin, provided that at least 10 per cent by weight of metal is precious metal (that is, gold or silver) and that it is at least 300 years old when found, if the object is of prehistoric date it will be Treasure provided any part of it is precious metal.
  2. Any group of two or more metallic objects of any composition of prehistoric date that comes from the same find
  3. All coins from the same find provided that they are at least 300 years old when found (but if the coins contain less than 10 per cent of gold or silver there must be at least ten of them).
  4. Any object, whatever it is made of, that is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, another object that is Treasure.
  5. Any object that would previously have been treasure trove, but does not fall within the specific categories given above. Only objects that are less than 300 years old, that are made substantially of gold or silver, that have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery and whose owners or heirs are unknown will come into this category.
The following types of finds are not Treasure:
  • Objects whose owners can be traced.
  • Unworked natural objects, including human and animal remains, even if they are found in association with Treasure.
  • Objects from the foreshore which is a wreck.
  • Single coins found on their own
  • Groups of coins lost one by one over a period of time.
You must report all finds of treasure to the coroner for the district in which they are found either:
within 14 days after the day on which you made the find-- or –
within 14 days after the day on which you realised that the find might be treasure (for example, as a result of having it identified)
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Reporting a treasure find is simple. You may report your find to the coroner in person, by letter, telephone or fax. The coroner or his officer will send you an acknowledgement and tell you where you should deposit your find. The Code of Practice has a list of coroners contact details.

Find Liaison Officers are the main point of contact for Treasure finds.
They will give you a receipt. They will need to know exactly where you made the find, (wherever possible to the equivalent of a six-figure national grid reference). However, in official dealings, a parish address or else a four-figure ordnance survey grid reference (one square kilometer) will be used, whilst a more general location description may be used for a particularly sensitive find. You and the landowner should keep the find-site location confidential.

The body or individual receiving the find will notify the Sites and monuments Record as soon as possible (if that has not already happened), so that the site where the find was made can be investigated by archaeologists if necessary. a list of Sites and Monuments Records is included in the Code of practice.

What if I do not report a find of Treasure?
The penalty for not reporting a find that you believe or there is good evidence for believing to be Treasure, without a reasonable excuse, is imprisonment for up to three months, a fine of up to £5,000 (level 5), or both. You will not be breaking the law if you do not report a find because you did not at first recognise that it may be Treasure, but you should report it once you realise this.
What happens if the find is Treasure?
If the Finds Liaison Officer, museum curator or archaeologist believes that the find may be Treasure, they will inform the British Museum, or the National Museum and Galleries of Wales. They will then decide whether they or any other museum wishes to acquire it from the Crown.
If no museum wishes to acquire the find from the Crown, the Secretary of State will disclaim it. When this happens, the Coroner will notify the landowner that the object is to be returned to you, after 28 days, unless the landowner objects. If the landowner objects, the Coroner will retain the find until you and the landowner have resolved any dispute.
What if a museum wants to acquire my find?
The Coroner will hold an inquest to decide whether the find is Treasure. you, the site occupier, and the landowner will be invited to attend, and will be able to question witnesses at the inquest. Treasure inquests will be held without a jury. If the find is declared Treasure then it will be taken to the British Museum or the National Museum and Galleries of Wales so that it can be valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee.
How is a fair market value for a Treasure find arrived at?
Any Treasure find, that a museum wishes to acquire, is valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee which consists of independent experts. The Committee will commission a valuation from one or more experts drawn from the antiquities or coin trades. You, the landowner and the acquiring museum, will have the option to comment on this valuation, and/or to send in a separate valuation for the Committee to consider. The Committee will inspect the find and arrive at a valuation. If you are then dissatisfied with the Committee's valuation, you can ask for the Committee to review it, in the light of written evidence that you want the Committee to see. If you are still dissatisfied, you can then appeal to the Secretary of State.
Who is eligible to a share of the valuation?
This is set out in detail in the Code of Practice. To summarise:
  • The finder who has obtained permission to be on the land from its owner, and acted in good faith
  • The person or organisation which holds the freehold of the land.
  • The person who occupies the particular site as a tenant of the owner.
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The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary scheme for recording archaeological objects or historical treasures found by members of the public. It was established in 1997 and it has been instrumental in forging a good relationship between archaeologists and metal detector users.
Metal detector users are responsible for discovering 95% of the finds reported under the 1996 Treasure Act. In 2003-4 some 2,376 finders volunteered 47,099 objects for recording, spanning 5000 years of our history.
All the finds recorded are published on the Portable Antiquities and Treasure website a which has become the largest online database of its kind in the world.
Under the scheme metal-detectorists are encouraged to log their archaeological discoveries with a local Finds Liaison Officer or museum.
A list of local find Liaison Officers can be found at
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A great way to identifying objects you have found is, in the first instance, to go to This is the Portable Antiquities finds database and on it you can access over 119,000 objects and 41,000 images from prehistoric flints to post-medieval buckles.
At the site it is easy to compare things you have found with existing, identified finds – it also give you an opportunity to acquaint yourself with the kinds of things most commonly found in your particular region.
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Of utmost importance when metal detecting, is how the search coil is swept over the ground. The search coil should always be kept parallel to the ground whilst being swept from side to side. It should be kept as close as possible to the ground, whilst avoiding actual contact. A pendulum swing would not be consistently close.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times and proceed with care to avoid loosing your footing. All the time listen carefully to the sounds being produced by the metal detector which indicate potential finds or 'hits'.
Try to overlap the areas being swept, because it would be such a waste to walk over an entire plot of land and only cover 50% of it. If you want to really maximise the likelihood of 'hits', remember that the detection sensitivity of the metal detector tends to narrow the deeper it goes, so even barely overlapping the search coil widths may leave deeper objects undetected.
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A list of useful things to take with you when you go treasure hunting:
  • Really good, comfortable shoes and clothing (suitable to environment and time of year)
  • Your Bill Wyman Signature Metal Detector
  • Digging Tools (trowel and spade)
  • Stiff and fine brushes for cleaning off your finds
  • Treasure containers
  • Water for cleaning your finds and your hands
  • Food to keep you going!
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