Shropshire Council

Advice for metal detectorists

Metal detectors can be valuable archaeological tools when used responsibly. During archaeological excavations metal detectors are sometimes used to check the spoil for any objects missed. They can also often retrieve finds from disturbed plough-soil which might have otherwise simply rusted away. The code of practice for responsible metal-detecting in England and Wales outlines best practice for those using metal detectors, and has been fully endorsed by archaeological groups and national metal detecting bodies.

The following information may also be of help.

Sites protected by law

Certain sites, which are considered to be of not only local but also national archaeological importance, are protected by law. It's illegal to use a metal detector on a scheduled ancient monument without prior written permission from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, English Heritage and the landowner. Metal detecting is also an offence on sites in local authority guardianship. For advice on the legal status of a site please contact the County Sites and Monuments Record in writing. For further details take a look at our 'Advice for finders' guidance.


Always obtain permission from the landowner before metal detecting on their land.  Any finds you discover will legally belong to the landowner, so it's wise to make arrangements in writing before you start detecting. Metal detecting on land owned by Shropshire Council is not permitted.

Ground disturbance

Please don't dig beneath the plough soil as this can disturb archaeologically sensitive sites.  Finds beneath the plough soil may be associated with the remains of a building or other structure, which will give vital information about the object and the archaeology of the area. Please contact Peter Reavill, finds liaison officer for Shropshire and Herefordshire, for advice and assistance in such cases: (email, phone 01743 254748).

Finding treasure

All finders of gold and silver objects, and groups of coins from the same findspot, which are over 300 years old have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1 January 2003 also qualify as treasure. For more information about the treasure act please contact Peter Reavill who will be able to facilitate the reporting of these items: (email, phone 01743 254748). Further information about the Treasure Act is available from the Portable Antiquities Scheme website

Recording your finds

If you've found an artefact you'd like an archaeologist to look at, contact Peter Reavill (details above) who will arrange to view the object and possibly record it with the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Cleaning finds

Our conservation advice notes tell you all you need to know on conserving your finds, and the Portable Antiquities Scheme website also offers advice.