Dear Colleagues,

Since the authorities won’t explain the law of property to artefact hunters for fear of offending them, I will: taking finds home without the permission of the owner is stealing. The fact thousands of you do it doesn’t make it not so, nor does saying you’re absolutely sure the owner wouldn’t mind. It’s stealing. The issue is exemplified in a recent (now hidden) post on the Detecting Wales forum:

Hi Folks
I need some good advice on a situation I’m in with the farmer of my local permission. Last week i found a Saxon Penny on his land and today i took it to the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge for the Saxon coins expert to view,he confirmed the date and moneyer ect ect. He also suggested its value which shocked me, however the coins expert wouldn’t give me a proper value as its against their policy There lies the problem i haven’t told the farmer yet as i wanted a proper identification first, And being my first proper permission i was very naive and didnt even think of a contract (in future i will) I want to do the right thing and tell him but dont know how to exactly, the way i see it ive got 3 choices.
1 Suggest that i sell it and give him half the value
2 suggest he buys it from me and give me half
3 i buy it from him and give him the money
Now the 3rd option is out as i cant afford to spend that amount (my wife would divorce me) Which leaves me with the other two options the second option would mean i would need to get a proper valuation and i dont know where to get that from. or is there another way around this????

Any help or advice you can offer would be hugely appreciated.

Can you believe it? These are our artefacts and by law only we have the right to decide what happens to them. Imagine people secretly taking stuff home from Tesco’s claiming a belief Tesco’s wouldn’t mind if they knew – and saying that anyway it didn’t matter as they intended to bring it back when it suited them, honest! It’s no different with us yet for 15 years the Government and its agents have conspicuously avoided saying so, thereby enhancing the convenience of artefact hunters and damaging the interests of us farmers.

It’s a damn scandal. Mr Bland of PAS complains the Heritage Journal is too critical of PAS but we farmers should be saying: “not critical enough!”

Silas Brown


For more from Farmer Brown put Silas in the search box.


More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting