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Detectorists are discussing how to get permission to detect on Council land (including the fatuous “So can you organise a rally and sayn it is a archaeological dig?“) Some Councils allow it, many do not. In 2017 we wrote to the National Association of Local Councils (and CBA, Rescue, LGAO and APPAG) about this and are still awaiting a reply.

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We should be grateful if you would forward this message to each of your 10,000 members. They will all have received many requests over the years for “metal detecting permission”. We hope your Members will accept that although a variety of non-damaging recreational uses of public land ought to be permitted, anything found within publicly owned land belongs to the public authority and it is not at liberty to allow private individuals to claim it as their own. That principle also applies, for instance, to harvesting flowers and the removal of fish, birds and mammals. In the case of archaeological artefacts the principle is of particular importance since objects may not only have monetary value but also historical value.

We commend them to The Deefholts-Billingshurst method. See Item 064/09 of the Deerhurst Parish Council, Gloucestershire, in 2009 [http://www.visionwebsites.co.uk/Uploads/Site805/Files/propertyminutes-20thmay2009.pdf]
“Mr Ray Deefholts wished to speak about agenda item 9 on metal detecting. Mr Deefholts stated that he is a member of the Federation of Independent Detectorists and is seeking permission from the Council for himself and two friends to use metal detectors on Parish Council land. Smaller items found will remain in the possession of the land owner i.e. the Parish Council, but Horsham Museum may be interested in these finds. Other finds may fall under the Treasure Act….” (In other words, nothing found during metal detecting would be claimed by Mr Deefholts or his two companions).


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We think that is fair – to the public and we suspect that very few detectorists will wish to pursue their “interest purely in history” on the basis of such fairness to the public.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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