Metal Detecting Laws In The UK
As like anything else that happens on public or private land, in order to metal detect in the UK you must follow some basic rules. This is not only for your safety but also other peoples safety.
If you are unable to follow these laws or simply do not want to then this will affect your chances of finding treasure as you may be stopped before you can even start.
If you do manage to find something valuable and are discovered to not have any permission to be metal detecting on that land, then you will lose out as Michael Webb and his son did in 1980 when they discovered the Derrynaflan Hoard.]
While some of the laws surrounding metal detecting in the UK are common courtesy i.e respect the Country Code, others are more specific.
If you find any live ammunition or a lethal object, you are not able to tamper with it as it is a massive health and safety risk. Instead, mark the site and report it to the local police and landowner.
While you need permission to venture onto any land that is not public, it is especially illegal for anyone to use a metal detector on a designated area without permission from authorities. This includes Site of Specific Scientific Interests, Ministry Defence Property of Scheduled Monuments.
Do I Have To Report My Findings?
The Treasure Act is a law that has been in place since 1996 and is obligational. Anything you find that falls into any of these categories must legally be reported:
- The object is gold or silver
- You have discovered a group of coins
- Your item is over 300 years old
- Any object that was found in the same place or is in the same collection as Treasure previously recorded
- The object is of a prehistoric date and any part of it is precious metal
Any potential finds of treasure must be reported within 14 days of discovery to the Coroner in whose district they were found.
The treasure act does not apply to Scotland or the Isle of Man. Read here for the laws on Scottish Treasure.
Metal Detecting Laws For The Beaches
As a word of warning, when metal detecting on the beach do not rush and buy the cheapest metal detector available as there are different metal detects designed for different purposes.
As for consent, the entire offshore in the UK is owned by someone and therefore you need permission from the landowner to detect as metal detecting is not a public right.
You have to have a permit to metal detect on Crown Estate beaches. You are able to get this permit from the Crown Estate website. This permit is for foreshore only and does not include a permit for the sea bed, river bed or any other Crown Estate land.
Parks And Commons
For most people who have children interested in metal detecting, they will start in their gardens. However, once they have exhausted that area, the next place to go is your local park.
You do still need permission in order to detect here. However, most parks and commons are owned by their local council who are most willing to give permission, especially so if you are willing to offer a service in return such as litter picking.
It is areas like this where most hoards and great finds have been found. When farmers plough their fields they bring all the dirt up to the top, making it easier to find objects when metal detecting. This makes them good sites for beginners.
The hardest part of metal detecting here is getting permission. While there are many different ways to go about getting permission, the best way is talking to the farmer face to face.
Likewise, you could write a letter or make friends with them if you know them distantly. Either way, you do need permission from the landowner to dig up their field as it is most probably used for business reasons.
Woodlands And Footpaths
While most of these areas are ‘public’ places, that is not an open invitation to metal detect there. If you would like to detect here then you need to go directly to the owner and ask them for permission.
Metal Detecting Code Of Conduct
Since Metal Detecting is a growing hobby, there has emerged a code of conduct in order to minimalise annoyances and clashes with other groups. This code covers hunting for gold.
Just remember that all land has an owner and you need permission to do your hobby on their land.
You must follow laws concerning any protected sites as discussed previously. Failure to do so could land you in hot water.
Handling and Care:
You need to learn about handling your equipment in order to get the best results and the best finds for you. You also need to learn how to properly care for your finds as to not break them.
You need to ensure that you do not do damage to the land. To do this, ensure that the land is digable and make sure to fill in any holes as neatly as possible.
Making records of what you find where is good practice so you can keep track of where you have been as well as how successful that place was. However, do not pass on information of a place without consent from the landowner.
Respect The Country Side Code:
This has already been touched upon and the link provided will tell you everything you need to know.
Report your findings:
Not only is this part of the law but it will also provide historical organisations with more information about a certain period.
This is a legal action that you must abide by if you want to metal detect at any point. Also, be sure to revisit this often in case it is updated or changes.