Historic England invests £50,000 in new metal detecting body

Organisation will support and train metal detectorists in UK
Profile image for Rebecca Atkinson
Rebecca Atkinson
Historic England has awarded £50,000 to investigate setting up a research and training body to promote best practice to metal detectorists.

The Association of Detectorists, which was set up by Oxfordshire-based metal detectorist Keith Westcott as a Community Interest Company, won the award as part of its plans to become a not-for-profit institute with a remit for examining how responsible detecting has been beneficial in the investigation of archaeological sites and landscapes.
“This body would promote responsible metal detecting as a technique that contributes to the understanding, conservation and protection of the historic environment,” Westcott said.
The funding will be used to establish a project advisory board and focus group to steer the development of the body as well as a feasibility study, which has been supported by national bodies such as the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), the Council for British Archaeology and the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

The detecting community will also be consulted on a business plan, which includes the role of the institute; membership structure; and a framework for the training programme focused on heritage and conservation.

The new body would support voluntary self-regulation among detectorists and provide a platform for detectorists to demonstrate their competence and skills to others.

Barney Sloane, the national specialist services director at Historic England, said: “This project provides an opportunity to build on an increasingly positive relationship between the responsible metal detecting community, archaeologists and other heritage organisations.

“The proposed institute could prove to be of great benefit for portable antiquities, archaeology and the wider public. This new body aims to train people in best practice in metal detecting and we applaud that.”  

There were a record 1,311 treasure finds – classified as gold and silver objects more than 300 years old, groups of coins and prehistoric metalwork – across the England, Wales and Northern Ireland by members of the public last year.

About 90% of the total number of finds (81,602) were discovered by metal detectorists, according to the PAS, with Norfolk producing the most finds.
The PAS recently recorded the 1.5 millionth object discovered by the public since finds started being reported in 1997 – a medieval lead papal bulla of Pope Innocent IV, found by a metal detectorist in Shropshire. 

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