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Back in 2010 (and many times since) we pointed out that any belief by the authorities that archaeology lying far below the plough soil was safe from unscrupulous detectorists as machines couldn’t reach far down was misplaced. As we explained, the then newly launched Minelab GPX 5000 can go to 18.5 to 24 inches whereas farmers only plough to half or less than that level and that’s how far most of the archaeological searches went.

Survey, British Farming Forum 2010

Yes, at £3,500 the GPX 5000 is expensive, so not many people have them but I was shocked recently to find there are a number of companies that will hire you a high performing metal detector for relative peanuts. Whether the GPX 5000 could be rented in UK is uncertain but £45 a day is normal in Australia.

I’m thinking yet again about the field containing the Staffordshire Hoard which was mostly investigated to nine inches or less. What could a nightime scruff find there if he invested £45? What more compelling reason could there be for archaeologists to revisit the site?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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