Introduction to Metal Detecting (by BTP Joe)

I personally go metal detecting so I know what I’m on about and I can guarantee you that if you have a passions for antiquities or history then this is a hobby for you! Metal detecting can take place in fields, on the beach, on the mud flats and even in parks! It’s most likely that you will coins, both old and new, but everything has a value to it whether it is a historical value or a money value.

Metal Detecting on a Beach

There are many websites, forums and organizations out there that are associated with metal detecting and archaeology. For example, the Portable Antiquities Scheme is one of them. They encourage members of the public to voluntarily record their finds that are of a solid value. The website provides background information on the scheme including news, events and access to their database of objects and images.

There is also a good forum that I have just joined and I suggest that if you want to start metal detecting then you join this Forum.

There have been some amazing finds in the past such as a father and son who went metal detecting in 2007 and found around £750,000 worth of Viking finds. Unveiled at the British Museum, the ‘Harrogate hoard’ includes a decorated gilt and silver cup, 617 silver coins, a solid gold arm ring, brooch pins and various lumps of unworked silver. Experts said the five-inch cup – which is decorated with animal motifs – was made in northern France in the 9th Century and was probably used in church services. The coins date from the 10th Century and come from all over Anglo-Saxon England as well as from parts of Asia. The necklaces, one of which is made of solid gold, are evidence that the hoard belonged to a Viking noble.

Mr Ager, curator of European objects at the British Museum, said “it is likely that its owner would have buried it for safekeeping in 927 when the Anglo-Saxons under King Athelstan drove the Vikings out of northern England.”

The find has been declared treasure and it is expected that the British Museum will try to buy it. Under the terms of the Treasure Act 1996, any find that might be historically significant must be reported to the Coroner’s Office. The items are then sent to the British Museum, where experts write a report. The Coroner then uses this report to determine whether the items are treasure. If they are, they are valued and offered to the museum to buy. The finders keep half the proceeds and the landowner the other half.

The bottom line is; you never know what you’re going to find so it’s part of the fun. My most interesting find that I found via a metal detector is a Victorian Horse Buckle. It was identified by the Finds Liaison Officer of Essex. You can find more of our finds here as we leave you with the Viking finds. (Don’t expect any of these!)


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