This week a detectorist on a forum has made mention of a previous idea that landowners will need to apply for permission for detecting to take place on their land. One of his colleagues responded: “This is the most drastic form of a license. Totally ridiculous.”

But is it? As a country we entrust a precious public resource to farmers to decide who should interact with it, yet we give them very little knowledge on which to make the right decisions, often with very damaging results. If they were obliged by law to apply for a license to allow detecting they could be automatically alerted to areas of their land that might be best not disturbed, and why, and which people or rally organisers might be best not given permission. Plus, what they might reasonably require of anyone who WAS allowed on the land.

How does it not make sense for the landowner to be guided by advice from professionals with no vested interest rather than by goodness knows who from goodness knows where with a huge vested interest in him saying yes? Most metal detecting, while legal, is “under the official radar” and many rally owners deliberately withhold the event locations until the night before to ensure archaeologists don’t have time to object. Perhaps those involved in the reform process should consider the merits of this idea?

Is that enough?


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting