Skip to content
BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access June 21, 2018

The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice: A Response to Samuel Hardy, ‘Quantitative Analysis of Open-Source Data on Metal Detecting for Cultural Property’ (Cogent Social Sciences 3, 2017)

  • Pieterjan Deckers EMAIL logo , Andres Dobat , Natasha Ferguson , Stijn Heeren , Michael Lewis and Suzie Thomas
From the journal Open Archaeology


In his paper ‘Quantitative analysis of open-source data on metal detecting for cultural property’, Samuel Hardy suggested that permissive policy is ineffective in minimizing the damage done to cultural heritage by non-professional metal detecting. This response paper contests the basic assumptions upon which this analysis is based. While Hardy‘s comparative, quantitative approach is laudable, it is founded in a biased and simplistic outlook on the metal detecting phenomenon.


Baastrup, M. P., & Feveile, C. (2013). Treasure trove - samarbejdet mellem finder, lokalmuseum og Nationalmuseum. Nationalmuseets Arbejdsmark 2013, 284-295.Search in Google Scholar

Bailie, W. R. (2017). An Assessment of the Extent and Character of Hobbyist Metal Detecting in Scotland. Historic Environment Scotland. in Google Scholar

Barford, P. (2010). Archaeology, Collectors and Preservation: A Reply to David Gill. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, 20, 16-23. in Google Scholar

Bland, R. (2005). A pragmatic approach to the problem of portable antiquities: The experience of England and Wales, Antiquity, 79, 440-447. doi:10.1017/S0003598X0011(4218).Search in Google Scholar

Bland, R. (2009). The Development and Future of the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme. In S. Thomas and P.G.Search in Google Scholar

Stone (Eds.), Metal Detecting and Archaeology (pp. 63-86). Woodbridge: The Boydell Press.Search in Google Scholar

Bland, R., Bryant, S., Chadwick, A., Garland, N., Ghey, E., Haselgrove, C., Mattingly, D., Moorhead, S., Robbins, K., Rogers, A., & Taylor, J. (forthcoming). Iron Age and Roman Coin Hoards in Britain. Oxford: Oxbow.Search in Google Scholar

Brindle, T. (2014). The Portable Antiquities Scheme and Roman Britain. Research Publication 196. London: The British Museum.Search in Google Scholar

Daubney, A. J. (2016). Portable Antiquities, Palimpsests, and Persistent Places: A Multi-Period Approach to Portable Antiquities Scheme Data in Lincolnshire. Leiden: Sidestone Press.Search in Google Scholar

Daubney, A. (2017). Floating Culture: The Unrecorded Antiquities of England and Wales, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 23, 785-99. doi:10.1080/1352(7258).2017.1325770Search in Google Scholar

Deckers, P. (forthcoming). Archaeological Metal Detecting by Amateurs in Flanders: Legislation, Policy and Practice of a Hobby. In S. Campbell, S. Thomas & L. White (Eds.), Competing Values in Archaeological Heritage. Springer.Search in Google Scholar

Deckers, P. (2013). Past, Present and Future of Archaeological Metal-Detecting by Amateurs in Flanders (Belgium), AP: Online Journal in Public Archaeology, 3, 13-17.Search in Google Scholar

Deckers, P., Bleumers, L., Ruelens, S., Lemmens, B., Vanderperren, N., Marchal, C., Pierson, J., & Tys, D. (2016a). MEDEA: Crowd-Sourcing the Recording of Metal-Detected Artefacts in Flanders (Belgium), Open Archaeology, 2, 264-77. doi:10.1515/opar-2016-0019.Search in Google Scholar

Deckers, P., Lewis, M., & Thomas, S. (2016b). Between Two Places: Archaeology and Metal-Detecting in Europe, Open Archaeology, 2, 426-29. doi:10.1515/opar-2016-0031.Search in Google Scholar

Dobat, A. S. (2013). Between Rescue and Research: An Evaluation after 30 Years of Liberal Metal Detecting in Archaeological Research and Heritage Practice in Denmark, European Journal of Archaeology, 16, 704-25.10.1179/1461957113Y.0000000041Search in Google Scholar

Dobat, A. S., Christiansen, T. T., Risager, C. M., Henriksen, M. B., Holst, M. K., Laursen, S. V. & Eve, S. (in press 2018). The DIME project: Background, status and future perspectives of the user driven recording scheme for metal detector finds ´DIgitale MEtaldetektorfund’, Danish Journal of Archaeology.10.7146/dja.v8i0.111422Search in Google Scholar

Dobat, A. S., & Jensen, A. T. (2016). ‘Professional Amateurs’. Metal Detecting and Metal Detectorists in Denmark, Open Archaeology, 2, 70-84. doi:10.1515/opar-2016-0005.Search in Google Scholar

Dutch Heritage Law 2016: Besluit van 8 april 2016, houdende regels voor archeologische opgravingen (Besluit Erfgoedwet archeologie), Staatsblad van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, in Google Scholar

Felson, M., & Boba, R. (2010). Crime and Everyday Life (fourth edition). London, Los Angeles: Sage.10.4135/9781483349299Search in Google Scholar

Ferguson, N. (2013). Biting the Bullet: The Role of Hobbyist Metal Detecting within Battlefield Archaeology, Internet Archaeology, 33. doi:10.11141/ia.33.3.Search in Google Scholar

Ferguson, N. (2016). Lost in Translation: Discussing the Positive Contribution of Hobbyist Metal Detecting, Open Archaeology 2, 115-26. doi:10.1515/opar-2016-0008.Search in Google Scholar

Fowler, P. (2007). Not archaeology and the media. In T. Clack & M. Brittain (Eds.), Archaeology and the Media (pp. 89-107). Walnut Creek CA: Leftcoast Press.Search in Google Scholar

Fox, A. (2013). The Lord’s prerogative and an act of trust: portable antiquities in the Isle of Man, Internet Archaeology, 33. doi:10.11141/ia.33.4.Search in Google Scholar

Gransard-Desmond, J.-O. (2013). Can We Really Differentiate between Treasure Hunters and Non-Professional Archaeologists?, Internet Archaeology, 33. doi:10.11141/ia.33.2.Search in Google Scholar

Guttormsen, T. S., & Swensen, G. (Eds.). (2016). Heritage, Democracy and the Public: Nordic Approaches. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing.10.4324/9781315586670Search in Google Scholar

Haldenby, D., & Richards, J. D. (2010). Charting the Effects of Plough Damage Using Metal-Detected Assemblages, Antiquity, 84, 1151-62.10.1017/S0003598X00067144Search in Google Scholar

Hardy, S. A. (2017). Quantitative Analysis of Open-Source Data on Metal Detecting for Cultural Property: Estimation of the Scale and Intensity of Metal Detecting and the Quantity of Metal-Detected Cultural Goods, Cogent Social Sciences 3: 1298397. doi:10.1080/23311886.2017.1298397.Search in Google Scholar

Heeren, S. (2009). Romanisering van rurale gemeenschappen in de Civitas Batavorum: De casus Tiel-Passewaaij. Amersfoort: Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed. in Google Scholar

Herva, V.-P., Koskinen-Koivisto, E., Seitsonen, O., & Thomas, S. (2016). ‘I Have Better Stuff at Home’: Treasure Hunting and Private Collecting of World War II Artefacts in Finnish Lapland, World Archaeology 48, 267-81. doi:10.1080/00438243.20 16.1184586.Search in Google Scholar

Immonen, V., & Kinnunen, J. (2017). ‘Quidditching’ and the Emergence of New Heritage Identities - Amateur Metal Detecting in Finland, Public Archaeology (online first). in Google Scholar

Karl, R. (2011). On the Highway to Hell: Thoughts on the Unintended Consequences for Portable Antiquities of § 11(1) Austrian Denkmalschutzgesetz, The Historic Environment 2, 111-133. doi:10.1179/175675011X13122044136479.Search in Google Scholar

Karl, R., & Möller, K. (2016). Empirische Untersuchung des Verhältnisses der Anzahl von MetallsucherInnen im deutschbritischen Vergleich. Oder: wie wenig Einfluss die Gesetzeslage hat, Archäologische Informationen, 39, 215-26.Search in Google Scholar

Kozinets, R. V. (2015). Netnography. In R. Mansell & P. H. Ang (Ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society (pp. 653-660). Wiley-Blackwell. in Google Scholar

Labelle, J. (2003). Coffee Cans and Folsom Points: Why We Cannot Continue to Ignore the Artefact Collectors. In L. Zimmerman, K. Vitelli, and J. Hollowell-Zimmer (Eds.), Ethical Issues in Archaeology (pp. 115-127). Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.Search in Google Scholar

Lecroere, T. (2016). ‘There Is None So Blind as Those Who Won‘t See’: Metal Detecting and Archaeology in France, Open Archaeology 2, 182-93. doi:10.1515/opar-2016-0014.Search in Google Scholar

Lewis, M. (2016). A Detectorist’s Utopia? Archaeology and Metal-Detecting in England and Wales, Open Archaeology, 2, 127-39. doi:10.1515/opar-2016-0009.Search in Google Scholar

Lewis, M. (2017). Portable Antiquities Annual Report 2016. British Museum: London.Search in Google Scholar

Mackenzie, S. (2014). Illicit Antiquities, Trafficking Culture Encyclopedia, in Google Scholar

Makowska, A., Oniszczuk, A., & Sabaciński, M. (2016). Some Remarks on the Stormy Relationship between the Detectorists and Archaeological Heritage in Poland, Open Archaeology, 2, 171-181. doi:10.1515/opar-2016-0013.Search in Google Scholar

Marc (2004). How Often Do You Metal Detect?, TreasureNet (online forum). in Google Scholar

Oksanen, E., & Lewis, M. (2015). Medieval Markets and Portable Antiquities Scheme, Medieval Settlement Research, 30, 54-59.Search in Google Scholar

Onroerend Erfgoed (2016). Code van Goede Praktijk voor Archeologie en Metaaldetectie. in Google Scholar

Parol, J., & Richardson, I. (2017). Treasure Annual Report 2015. British Museum: London. in Google Scholar

PAAG - Portable Antiquities Advisory Group (2017). Code of Practice for Reponsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales (2017 Revision). PAAG: London. in Google Scholar

Portable Antiquities Scheme (n.d.). Prioritising Recording Guidance. in Google Scholar

Pendleton, M. R. (1998), Policing the Park: Understanding Soft Enforcement, Journal of Leisure Research, 30, 552-71.10.1080/00222216.1998.11949847Search in Google Scholar

Pitblado, B. (2014). An argument for ethical, proactive, archaeologist-artifact collector collaboration, American Antiquity, 79, 385-400. doi:10.7183/0002-7316.79.3.385.Search in Google Scholar

Pollard, T. (2009). ‘The Rust of Time’: Metal Detecting and Battlefield Archaeology. In S. Thomas and P.G. Stone (Eds.), Metal Detecting and Archaeology (pp. 181-202). Woodbridge: The Boydell Press.Search in Google Scholar

Renfrew, C. (2000). Loot, Legitimacy and Ownership: The Ethical Crisis in Archaeology. London: Duckworth.Search in Google Scholar

Rasmussen, J. M. (2014). Securing Cultural Heritage and Fencing Stolen Goods? A Case Study on Museums and Metal Detecting in Norway, Norwegian Archaeological Review, 47, 83-107.10.1080/00293652.2014.899616Search in Google Scholar

Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (2016). Vrijwilligers in de Archeologie en de Erfgoedwet, Amersfoort: RCE.Search in Google Scholar

Robbins, K. J. (2013). Balancing the Scales: Exploring the Variable Effects of Collection Bias on Data Collected by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Landscapes, 14, 54-72.10.1179/1466203513Z.0000000006Search in Google Scholar

Rodríguez Temino, I., & Roma Valdés, A. (2015). Fighting against the Archaeological Looting and the Illicit Trade of Antiquities in Spain, International Journal of Cultural Property, 22, 111-130. doi:10.1017/S094073911500003X.Search in Google Scholar

Roymans, N., & Heeren, S., with cooperation of Hoeks, R. (2017). Doe mee met PAN. Het belang van archeologische vondsten in privé-bezit, Archeologie in Nederland, 1, 18-25.Search in Google Scholar

Scherzler, D., & Siegmund, F. (2015). Tübingen theses on archaeology, Archäologische Informationen, 39 (2016), 9-18.Search in Google Scholar

Schlanger, N. (2017) Brexit in Betwixt. Some European Conjectures on its Predictability and Implications, The Historic Environment: Policy and Practice. doi:10.1080/17567505.2017.1358324Search in Google Scholar

Shott, M. (2017). Estimating the Magnitude of Private Collection of Points and Its Effects on Professional Survey Results: A Michigan Case Study, Advances in Archaeological Practice, 5, 125-137. doi:10.1017/aap.2017.8.Search in Google Scholar

SuALT Project (2017). SuALT Project. Suomen arkeologisten löytöjen linkitetty tietokanta (project blog), in Google Scholar

Thomas, S. (2012). Searching for Answers: A Survey of Metal-Detector Users in the UK, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 18, 49-64. doi:10.1080/13527258.2011.590817.Search in Google Scholar

Thomas, S. (2016). The Future of Studying Hobbyist Metal Detecting in Europe: A Call for a Transnational Approach, Open Archaeology, 2, 140-149. doi:10.1515/opar-2016-0010.Search in Google Scholar

Thomas, S., Seitsonen, O., & Herva, V.-P. (2016) Nazi memorabilia, dark heritage and treasure hunting as “alternative” tourism: Understanding the fascination with the material remains of World War II in Northern Finland, Journal of Field Archaeology, 41, 331-343.10.1080/00934690.2016.1168769Search in Google Scholar

Williams, D. (1997). Late Saxon Stirrup-Strap Mounts: A Classification and Catalogue. CBA Research Report 11. York: Council for British Archaeology.Search in Google Scholar

Winkley, F. (2016). The Phenomenology of Metal Detecting: Insights from a Unique Type of Landscape Experience, Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, 25, 1-15. doi:10.5334/pia.496.Search in Google Scholar

Wrzosek, J. (2017). Poszukiwania Zabytków Ruchomych, w Tym Zabytków Archeologicznych, w Świetle Obowiązujących Przepisów. Uwagi Archeologa, Kurier Konserwatorski, 14, 41-45.Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2018-03-16
Accepted: 2018-05-16
Published Online: 2018-06-21

© 2018 Pieterjan Deckers, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

Downloaded on 29.11.2023 from
Scroll to top button