Much research on hobbyist metal detecting has either focused on the archaeological impact only,
conflated hobbyism with criminal activity (namely looting and illicit trade), or generalized the motivations
and drivers for metal detectorists. Studies to date have targeted specific countries and regions, with only
limited reference to metal detecting activities elsewhere. This has meant that the transnational aspects of
metal detecting – such as the international trade of metal-detected objects, and transnational movement of
metal detectorists themselves (for example through touristic activities) – has mostly been overlooked or merely
speculated upon. Much debate has revolved around assumptions, stymied by perceived ethical barriers and
accepted attitudes which limit deeper engagement with the metal detecting community. Approaching the
study of hobbyist metal detecting at a trans-European level would encourage greater understanding of the
scale of hobbyist metal detecting and the world views, activities and contact and trade networks of metal
detectorists. This may challenge traditionally-held perspectives concerning what should be valued as cultural
heritage and who is entitled to make use of it. In this paper I set out our current state of knowledge, and
propose directions for future research.
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