Open Archaeology

Topical Issue on Aspects of non-professional metal detecting in Europe


Pieterjan Deckers, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
Michael Lewis, Portable Antiquities Scheme/British Museum, UK
Suzie Thomas, University of Helsinki, Finland


Professional attitudes towards non-professional metal detecting in Europe vary widely across Europe. In line with the Valletta Convention (1992), in many countries amateur detecting remains both illegal and vehemently opposed by professional archaeologists, who condemn the practice as unwarranted destruction and appropriation of common heritage. On the other hand, several European countries have adopted more pragmatic stances and tolerate the practice as a legitimate hobby. Some even actively engage with detectorists, arguing that the benefits of such an approach for research and heritage management outweigh the potential risks. Evidently non-professional detecting remains a controversial topic amongst heritage professionals. However, the current debate is largely constricted by jurisdictional boundaries. Professional attitudes and opinions have tended to become entrenched, and hard data on the nature of detectorists are limited.

This volume, which builds upon the 2015 EAA Annual Meeting in Glasgow, aims to form a new step towards more unified debate across Europe; towards common ground regarding ethics and best practices in responding to this phenomenon. Contributors are invited to submit case studies highlighting aspects of non-professional detecting in their own country or region, including (but not limited to) the motivations and practices of metal detecting, its impact on preservation and research, legislative and policy responses and their effectiveness, as well as determining contextual factors.

Between Two Places: Archaeology and Metaldetecting in Europe
Pieterjan Deckers, Michael Lewis, Suzie Thomas

“Professional Amateurs”. Metal Detecting and Metal Detectorists in Denmark *
Andres S. Dobat, Astrid T. Jensen

Metal Detecting in Finland – An Ongoing Debate
Anna Wessman, Leena Koivisto, Suzie Thomas

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

A Detectorist’s Utopia? Archaeology and Metal-Detecting in England and Wales
Michael Lewis

The Future of Studying Hobbyist Metal Detecting in Europe: A Call for a Transnational Approach
Suzie Thomas

Rational Grounds for Dialogue Between Archaeologists and Metal Detectorists in Spain
Ignacio Rodríguez Temiño

Private Metal Detecting and Archaeology in Norway
Jostein Gundersen, Josephine M. Rasmussen, Ragnar Orten Lie

Some Remarks on the Stormy Relationship Between the Detectorists and Archaeological Heritage in Poland
Agnieszka Makowska, Agnieszka Oniszczuk, Marcin Sabaciński

“There Is None So Blind as Those Who Won‘t See”: Metal Detecting and Archaeology in France
Thomas Lecroere

MEDEA: Crowd-Sourcing the Recording of Metal-Detected Artefacts in Flanders (Belgium)
Pieterjan Deckers, Lizzy Bleumers, Sanne Ruelens, Bert Lemmens, Nastasia Vanderperren, Clémence Marchal, Jo Pierson, Dries Tys

Archaeological Responses to 5 Decades of Metal Detecting in Austria
Raimund Karl

Illegal Detectorism and Archaeological Heritage: Criminal and Administrative Punitive Systems in Spain
Ana Yáñez

* Erratum to: “Professional Amateurs”. Metal Detecting and Metal Detectorists in Denmark