Where you can and cannot detect

A place for the newcomer to find useful information thus
helping them to make a good start in the hobby. Beginners can ask questions
and get replies from more experienced members.
User avatar
UKDN Valued Member and Diamond Supporter
UKDN Valued Member and Diamond Supporter
Posts: 16787
meble kuchenne warszawa
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2002 2:41 pm
Main Detector: Minelab Etrac
Location: Gloucestershire

Where you can and cannot detect

Post by petethedig »

Where can I use my detector?

Please click on the Red highlighted words for further and more detailed information that will help you.

If you’re now at the point where you have purchased a metal detector then you’ll be more than ready to get out and use it. Before you go out to use your detector there are a few things to go through before you enter any potential detecting sites.

Getting started
To begin with it is advisable to use your detector in a place where you know you have permission like your own front/back garden (or a friends or relatives) to get used to how it works and what all the buttons and switches do. When you’re ready to leave the confines of your own home then you will need to decide where it is you would like to detect? This may include such places as local Parks, Common's, Farmland, Forests, Woods, Beaches and Rivers. Whilst this list on the face of it looks enticing it has to be said that actual permission from the landowners is of paramount importance before you place a foot on any land including beaches.
Please note: Make sure the person giving you permission owns the land and not a Tennant as this can and will cause problems down the line from the real landowner, particularly if you are fortunate to discover something that needs to go through the Treasure System.

Methods for gaining permission
Gaining permission can be achieved in many ways and each is as valued as the next and all can be very productive. Letters or phone calls targeted at certain areas you have an interest in are a good method, especially for those who might find it difficult to knock on doors and talk face to face with landowners, local councils etc. Using the Yellow Pages or many of the various online websites to contact landowners can also be used to great effect. Many seasoned detectorist will always go for the face to face option as this makes it easier to communicate what it is you’re looking to do and landowners can see just who it is they’re dealing with. This is no guarantee for success and you’ll certainly get some knock-backs, but using letters, knocking doors or indeed using the phone will produce some land to detect at some point. It’s also worth checking your network of friends to see if someone owns or knows someone who owns some land and would be willing to grant you access.

Estates, Councils and Public bodies
Much of the land in the UK is either owned or managed by large Estates, Local Councils and Bodies such as Natural England, The National Trust, The Forestry Commission, Crown Estate, Military Estate, The Church of England and English Heritage who have responsibility for Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs) in particular and British Waterways.

Local Councils
Local councils all across the country have different rules for detecting on Public Land and the only way to make sure you can detect the local park/s is to contact them or you may find yourself in trouble with the local Park Rangers for breaking local by-laws which can result in a fine. It is also worth noting that local Commons come under the remit of both private land owners, but also local Parish Councils. A letter of introduction or a phone call to the Parish Secretary or landowner can make inroads to these prime detecting sites.
Public Bodies
Many of the large publicly owned (Government funded) organisations already have or are in the process of implementing a blanket ban on detecting on their estates. It is however worth your approaching your local office or representative and asking for permission to detect. There are some who have achieved this, though it seems to be a very rare occurrence. Military Estates are far less likely to allow detecting for obvious reasons with live ordinance lying around many firing ranges etc.
Large Private Estates
Much of the land in the UK is owned by private Estates, some of which has been held in families for hundreds of years, others that have been bought up by the likes of Pension fund groups as investments. The Church of England is still one of the largest landowners in the UK and you will need to contact your local church Vicar to see where to go to try and gain permission; though again the C of E is also reticent to allow detecting these days. The thing to do is have a ‘never say never’ attitude and at some point with these large organisations you may just get a breakthrough.

The vast majority of metal detecting in the UK today is undertaken on regular farmland that will consist of either arable (ploughed) or pasture (grass) fields. The bulk of detectorist will in the main look to be able to detect arable fields as the plough action will move any deeper finds closer to the surface making them easier to find. To gain permission on farmland you’ll need to take your chances when you can. If letter writing has failed and phone calls go unanswered and the farmer/landowner is difficult to get hold of then set aside a day to travel around your area with the express purpose of contacting or finding landowners. This as discussed before can be done on the farm door, but be prepared to stop at farm gates where farmers are working in fields and wait for an opportune time to talk to the farmer or at least get some useful information from what maybe a contract worker who will have a contact list as long as your arm!
Other places worth frequenting is the local public house, or indeed the local [url=http://www.nfyfc.org.uk/]Young Farmers
meeting that have been going on for decades, the National Farmers Union (NFU) or the local farmers market if you’re inclined to make that extra effort (buying something will often lead to the possibility of a conversation and maybe some land to detect).
When approaching a landowner it will be worth having some information with you that may tip the balance in your favour. Research the land you would like permission on, take copies of aerial maps, old maps with you or any old documents you may have found. This shows an interest in where he/she lives and may raise the level of interest in their land that can be further revealed through your endeavours.
Many landowners will be aware of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and responsible detectorist will use the Scheme to show that any finds over 300 years can be recorded for the benefit of all with good find spot information and a permanent record for future generations to come. Please take time to read up on The Environmental Stewardship Scheme which may affect a farm you approach, the Entry Level Scheme will not be an issue, but the Higher level Scheme may have certain areas out of bounds to detecting either throughout the year or just at certain times due to fauna and flora or indeed archaeological sites that may exist on the farm.

Beaches and Rivers
Recent news has brought into focus that detecting on beaches around the UK should not to be taken for granted. The Crown Estate owns much of the land around our shared coast and they do require a permit for detecting on beaches/shoreline under their stewardship. There are plenty of other beaches that are still available for detecting, but it is worth checking with the local council if it's OK to do so. Often notice-boards situated at access points to the beach will inform you if it is possible to detect.
Rivers, streams, lakes and other waterways around the UK are all owned by someone so make sure once again you check with the owners for permission to detect or you may end up in hot water (excuse the pun!). The British Waterways is often a good place to start, and then it will be down to local landowners who often own the rights to the waterways around their land. A separate permit should be obtained if you are considering detecting or digging on the Thames Foreshore which can be purchased through the Port of London Authority.

In conclusion
Buying a detector is just the beginning of a journey into a fabulous hobby that can be rewarding for all kinds of reasons, but this must always be tempered with a sense of being an Ambassador in all situations. In doing so it is imperative to always make sure you have the right permission from the landowner and you are clear as to which land you have permission on so you don’t stray onto someone Else's land. Good luck and remember to stick at it and you will find people out there willing to share their land and allow detecting.

Peter Twinn.
(Petethedig 2008)