Metal Detecting in Devon and Dorset

 

Treasure Hunting
Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Will there be lots of holes left after you’ve gone? 

 

No. I use a small foot assisted trowel which creates a clean cut, and my method allows me to extract a find from the ground and replace the divot again cleanly into the grass without you ever knowing I was there! I believe in common sense and the courtesy of closing gates, respecting any live stock and filling in holes afterwards.

 

Treasure Hunting           Treasure Recovery after

 

 

What happens if you dig up any rubbish? 

 

Part of metal detecting means digging up rubbish. Some of this consists of ring pulls and foil but sometimes large chunks of rusted iron can be detected, including horse shoes with nails still sticking out. In all cases, every piece of rubbish detected will be removed from your land when I leave and disposed of correctly. Its all part of detecting and all part of the service! 

 

I’ve got a ScheduledAncientMonument on my land, does that mean I can’t allow you to use a metal detector on my fields? 

 

It’s perfectly ok to detect on areas that are around the boundaries of a ScheduledAncientMonument or Site of Special Scientific Interest. However, I am not allowed to detect within the boundaries so if your land does contain a protected area and I don’t already know about this I would be grateful for you to point this out so I can avoid this area. 

 

Part of my research into Devon and the surrounding areas is to get to know all the areas that are classed as ScheduledAncientMonument or Site of Special Scientific Interest so I can avoid these. The fact that you are reading this is a result of the research I have carried out into your area, so most likely if there is a ScheduledAncientMonument or Site of Special Scientific Interest, I already know about it! 

 

I’ve got metal detectorists coming to my farm who tell me they are working with the county archaeologist. What is the difference between them and you? 

 

None. . . except that some detectorists in that situation mislead farmers into thinking that all finds made on the farm will go directly into the county museum’s collection. Every detectorist – and every land owner – is governed by the recently introduced Treasure Act which places an obligation to report certain finds. I abide by it, with the difference that I offer land owners equal share of anything of value I find. 

 

Hammered Coins TreasureWhat sort of things are you likely to find? 

 

It’s impossible to say but common finds include personal losses from travellers long ago in the form of buttons, rings and coins. There could also be buckles and badges from soldiers who may have passed this way. Of course there have also been many hoards detected that were deliberately buried many years ago and have been in the ground ever since. More than 200 hoards were unearthed in the year 2000 alone, a nine-fold increase on the figure ten years ago. 

 

What happens if you find something of very high value during your search? 

 

That would be a delightful experience for both of us, one I admit to day dream about occasionally! Our local Finds Liaison Officer can help identify the find and determine if it is deemed Treasure Trove. If this is the case we will be awarded the full market value if a museum decides to buy the treasure. 

 

A few years ago, a large gold pendant engraved with religious motifs and inset with a huge sapphire was detected. The land owner who had given permission for the search later found himself £700,000 better off when he received half of the sale price. 

 

A metal detectorist discovered a tigress statue from a vast hoard of Roman gold and silver which later became known as the Hoxne Hoard. The hoard had been buried for almost 2,000 years and the finder and land owner shared the Treasure Trove reward of £1,750,000. 

 

I’m happy for you to detect but will archaeologists come and dig up big trenches in my land? 

 

As the land owner you are always in control of your land and have the final say. As a detectorist searching under your permission I consider us a team and always look after my land owner’s best interests. Should anything significant be found I will always discuss with you first our options and the decision will always remain yours. 

 

Having been in contact with different land owners over the years I have a new appreciation for farmers who have endured negative interference from government bodies and organisations who prevent certain land from being worked on with scheduled sites. These farmers are then concerned about future restrictions that may be placed on the area due to any significant finds being made. 

 

If this is of concern to you, please chat with me about it and don’t hold back on your concerns or frustrations with any red tape you are currently caught up in or have been in the past. As a small business owner I’ve had my fair share of frustrations with red tape and interfering government busy bodies! Please understand that by allowing me permission to search your land, you are helping me fulfil my life’s passion and hobby and I consider you a friend. I do not work for the government, I have no associations with any archaeologists, nor am I hoping for fame and fortune. My relationship with you is of prime importance which is why I never share details of my ‘friends’ or their land. 

 

 

If I give you permission, will this attract other detectorists and nighthawks? 

 

No, not normally. Nighthawks are generally deterred if they see another detectorist on any land they were considering. A nighthawk is the name given to unscrupulous individuals who enter land without the owner’s permission, normally at night, with the aim of stealing anything of value that may be in the ground. 

 

If you believe you have seen people on your land using detectors without your permission or have found evidence such as unfilled holes etc, I would urge you to contact me. There may be something that attracted the nighthawks in the first place and by carrying out a thorough search for you, I can make sure there is nothing left for them to steal. 

 

Nighthawking, thankfully is low scale and shouldn’t cause you any problems. It is unfortunately at the tacky end of Treasure Hunting and gives respectable metal detecting an unfair bad name. 

 

 

 



Treasure Hunting with a MinelabWhat sort of metal detector do you use? 

 

My current detector is a state of the art Minelab Safari which is a multi-frequency machine. This technology uses different frequencies to “look into the ground” allowing better target identification and discrimination. The target information is displayed on a small screen which then lets me make the decision to dig or not. 

 

Do you offer a written agreement stating you will observe my terms and conditions? 

 

Yes, I do have a landowner/detectorist agreement that I will be happy to show you that clearly states I will observe your conditions whilst detecting on your land. This agreement protects us both and is up to you if you would like a copy. Some landowners are happy with a verbal agreement but I am happy to sign a written copy for your records. 

 

Are you a member of any metal detecting clubs? 

 

Yes, I am a member of the Nation Council for Metal Detecting (NCMD) which covers me with the National Farmers Union for an Indemnity of £5,000,000 Civil Liability Insurance. I am also a member of The Federation of Independent Detectorists (FID) and abide by their Code of Conduct which also covers me for an additional £5million Public Liability Insurance with Lloyds.

NCMD                     FID 

 

Locally, I enjoy membership with the Yeovil Detecting club based in Somerset who are a great team of like minded keen metal detectorists. However, although the clubs are a great source of information on identifying finds, I keep all my sites strictly confidential and never share locations or landowner’s details with anyone. 

 

What objects qualify as Treasure? 

 

Coins – All coins from the same find (two or more) provided they are at least 300 years old when found. If they contain less than 10 per cent gold or silver, there must be at least ten of them. 

 

Metal objects – All prehistoric base-metal objects from the same find (two or more). All finds (one or more) at least 300 years old and containing 10 per cent or more gold or silver. 

 

Associated finds – Any object, whatever it is made of, found in the same place as (or having previously been together with) another object that is treasure. 

 

Is there any cost to me to have you carry out a metal detector search on my land if nothing valuable is found? 

 

Absolutely not. There is more to metal detecting than finding valuables, and even old buckles and buttons that don’t necessarily have any financial worth, are valuable in their own right for the history they reveal about your land. If after a hard days detecting I don’t manage to find anything, I don’t mind as least I’m enjoying the outdoors while I am physically able to do so. 

 

 

Are you able to help me find a lost object? 

 

Yes, I’d be pleased to help you. I offer a recovery service to farmers and anyone who has lost a ring – or indeed any metallic object like an important tractor part.  Each recovery is treated on a case by case basis depending on location, item, time etc. Just let me know the approx area you believe the item may have been lost, and I’ll do the rest! 

 

What do I do next? 

 

You can contact me via phone, post or email. We can then arrange a suitable time to meet up and have a chat. 

 

 

Paul Williams 

St Francis Vicarage 

Bennetts Hill 

Sidmouth 

Devon

EX10 9XH 

 

Home Tel: O1395 514419 

Work Tel: O845 4747 928 

Mobile: O7919 115923 

 

Email: paul@devondetecting.co.uk

 

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Minelab Metal Detectors

"Paul has been metal detecting in my fields and at my home for many years now. He has made some very fascinating finds including many coins, buckles, toy Dinky cars and even the remains of an old purse!

"Paul is a credit to himself and to the hobby and I would be happy to recommend Paul to any landowner as a decent and trustworthy individual"

David Glynn

Gold Roman Coin
NCMD
FID