Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …
Open Access

Open Archaeology

Editor-in-Chief: Harding, Anthony

Covered by:
Clarivate Analytics - Emerging Sources Citation Index

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Lost in Translation: Discussing the Positive Contribution of Hobbyist Metal Detecting

Natasha Ferguson
  • Treasure Trove Unit Officer, Treasure Trove Unit, National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, EH1 1JF
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2016-09-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2016-0008


This paper will consider the positive contribution from hobbyist metal detecting from both the perspective of the archaeological and metal detecting community. Are we currently opting for a path of least resistance with a ‘better than nothing’ approach to encourage reporting and to maintain good working relationships, even if it risks the loss of valuable archaeological information? Using selected case studies, as well as the results of a recent research project, this paper will draw on the perspective of both archaeologists and hobbyist metal detectorists to further understand what it is to have a responsible and constructive nonprofessional interaction with the archaeological record.

Keywords: Archaeology; professional; non-professional; treasure trove system; hobbyist metal detectorist; heritage management; artefacts; positive contribution; responsible practice; recreation; engagement


  • Bailie, W. (2016). An assessment of the nature and character of hobbyist metal detecting activity in Scotland. Project 4238. GUARD Archaeology Ltd. Google Scholar

  • Campbell, S. (2013). ‘Metal detecting, collecting and portable antiquities: Scottish and British perspectives’, Internet Archaeology 33. http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.33.1 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cawley, L. (2016). ‘The best places in England for unearthing lost treasure’. BBC News. 17 January 2016. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-34930450. Last viewed 3 February 2016. Google Scholar

  • Curtis, N. (2007). ‘Like stray words or letters’ The Development and workings of the Treasure Trove system, in Ballin Smith, B. S. Taylor and G. Williams (Eds.), West over the Sea: Studies in Scandinavian Sea-Borne Expansion and Settlement Before 1300. Leiden: Brill Press, pp 341-362. Google Scholar

  • Deckers, P. (2013). ‘Past, present and future of archaeological metal-detecting by amateurs in Flanders (Belgium)’, in AP: Online Journal in Public Archaeology 3: 13-17. Google Scholar

  • De Witt Bailey. (1997). Pattern Dates for British Ordnance Small Arms, 1718-1783. Thomas Publications. Google Scholar

  • Ferguson, N. N. (2013a). The positive contribution and negative impact of hobbyist metal detecting to battlefield archaeology. University of Glasgow: PhD thesis. Google Scholar

  • Ferguson, N. N. (2013b). ‘Biting the Bullet: The role of hobbyist metal detecting within battlefield archaeology’ Internet Archaeology 33. http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue33/ferguson_index.html Google Scholar

  • Ferguson, N. (2015). ‘Conservation through recognition: material culture research as a heritage management tool for sites of conflict’, in Preserving Fields of Conflict: Papers from the 2014 Fields of Conflict Conference and Preservation Workshop, Smith. S. D (Eds.), South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology Columbia, South Carolina, pp 17-25. Google Scholar

  • Ferguson, N. (2016). Treasure Trove Finds Days in History Scotland, Vol. 14, No. 2 March/April 2016. Leeds: Warners Group Publications. Google Scholar

  • Historic Environment Scotland: Inventory of Historic Battlefields: http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index/inventorybattlefields. Last viewed 1 February 2016. Google Scholar

  • Hunter, F. (2011). Excavations at Clarkly Hill, Roseilse, Moray: Interm Report. National Museums Scotland: http://canmore-pdf.rcahms.gov.uk/wp/00/WP000756.pdf . Last viewed: 1 February 2016. Google Scholar

  • Kennedy, M. (2007). ‘Unsung heroes of heritage’ extolled for unearthing hoard of treasure’ in The Guardian. 18 January 2007 http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/jan/18/artnews.arts. Last viewed 3 February 2016. Google Scholar

  • Maaranen, P. (2016). ‘Metal Detecting and Archaeology in Finland: An Overview of the Hobby and its Consequences’, in New Sites, New Methods: Proceedings of the Finnish-Russian Archaeological Symposium, Helsinki, 19-21 November 2014, IKSOS 21, pp. 275-284. Google Scholar

  • Rasmussen, J. M. (2014). ‘Securing Cultural Heritage Objects and Fencing Stolen Goods? A Case Study on Museums and Metal Detecting in Norway’. Norwegian Archaeological Review, 47:1, 83-107. Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Richards, J. D., Naylor, J.& Holas-Clark, C. (2009). ‘Anglo-Saxon Landscape and Economy: using portable antiquities to study Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age England’, Internet Archaeology 25 http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.25.2 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Scottish Government (2003). ‘Review of Treasure Trove arrangements in Scotland’. http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2003/11/18319/27607. Last viewed: 1 February 2016 Google Scholar

  • Schriek, van der, J., and Schriek, van der, M. (2014). ‘Metal Detecting: Friend or Foe of Conflict Archaeology? Investigation, Preservation and Destruction on WWII sites in the Netherlands’, Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage 1(3), 228-44. Google Scholar

  • Thomas, S. (2009). ‘The Relationships between Archaeologists and Metal-detector Users in England and Wales: Impact of the Past and Implications for the Future’, Ph.D. thesis (Newcastle University). Google Scholar

  • Thomas, S. (2012). ‘How STOP started: Early approaches to the metal detecting community by archaeologists and others’, in Moshenska, G., and Dhanjal, S. (Eds.), Community Archaeology: Themes, Methods and Practices, (Oxford and Oakville: Oxbow Books), 42-57. Google Scholar

  • Thomas, S. (2012). ‘Searching for answers: a survey of metal-detector users in the UK’. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 18:1, 49-64. Google Scholar

  • Walker, E. (2016). The Lanark Hoard: My own Scottish ‘Thanksgiving Day’, in The Searcher, No.365, January. Searcher Publications Limited, pp. 14-15. Google Scholar

  • Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2016-02-29

Accepted: 2016-08-19

Published Online: 2016-09-12

Citation Information: Open Archaeology, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6560, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2016-0008.

Export Citation

© 2016 Natasha Ferguson. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Pieterjan Deckers, Andres Dobat, Natasha Ferguson, Stijn Heeren, Michael Lewis, and Suzie Thomas
Open Archaeology, 2018, Volume 4, Number 1, Page 322
Adam Daubney
International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2017, Page 1

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in