Beginners Guide To Metal Detecting

metal detecting

If you are thinking about taking up metal detecting as a hobby or past time you have come to the right place. In my beginners guide to metal detecting I will be sharing all the knowledge and experience I have gained since taking up the hobby over a decade ago.

Like many of you reading this, I was in the same position when I first started out and had a lot of questions, many of which I couldn’t easily find an answer too.

These included queries such as which metal detector should I buy, where can I go metal detecting, what are the laws and am I using my metal detector correctly.

After a few months of me taking up the hobby I realised there was always something new to learn.

Skip forwards ten years and I have pretty much encountered all situations and circumstances that can arise for both beginners and experienced detectorists. All except finding a treasure trove of national importance and historic significance that is.

Along the way I have made many friends and had countless hours of fun and laughter. It is now my mission to try and get as many people as possible interested in the hobby, especially in the areas where there are no longer any metal detecting clubs.

Hopefully, by the time you reach the end of this guide I will of either encouraged some of you to take up the wonderful hobby or at least taught you a thing or two that may spark an interest for the future.

Either way metal detecting is a great way to explore the truly beautiful landscape and history that we are lucky to have in the UK.

Without further a do let’s get started.

What Is A Metal Detector and How Do They Work

Most of you are probably aware of what a metal detector actually is, but with this been a complete guide to the hobby it makes sense to explain a little bit more on the subject.

Don’t worry I won’t get too technical as I don’t want to put any of you off before you we have even started.

A metal detector is essentially an electronic instrument that uses electromagnetic fields to detect the presence of metallic objects underground or metal inclusions within objects.

They can be used in a wide range of everyday situations including security at airports and shops to archaeology and prospecting, even for saving soldiers lifes from land mines and IED’s.

A metal detector for the treasure finding is the reason we are all here so let me elaborate.

Most modern metal detectors are handheld by design and consist of a control box, shaft and search coil. The user sweeps the detector over the ground, which has what is known as a transmitter coil in the head. The transmitter coil creates a magnetic field which surrounds it when an electric current is passed through it.

When you move a metal detector over a piece of metal, the magnetic field coming from the detector causes another magnetic field to appear around the metal object. This is what the detector picks up and alerts you to.

There is also a second coil which is called the receiver coil. This is connected to the circuit box and speaker. Whenever metal comes in to contact with the magnetic field of the receiver coil it produces electricity. This is when your detector will “bleep” and let you know you have found something.

Who Invented Metal Detectors

The history of the metal detector goes back further than most people imagine.

Portable metal detectors were invented by German-born electronics engineer Gerhard Fischer (which he also spelled “Fisher”) while living in the United States, and he applied for a patent on the idea in January 1933. He called his invention the Metalloscope—a “method and means for indicating the presence of buried metals such as ore, pipes, or the like”—and you can see it in the drawing here. The same year, he founded Fisher Research Laboratory, which remains a leading manufacturer of metal detectors to this day. Dr Charles L. Garrett, founder of Garrett Electronics, pioneered modern, electronic metal detectors in the early 1970s. After working for NASA on the Apollo moon-landing program, Garrett turned his attention to his hobby—amateur treasure hunting—and his company revolutionized the field with a series of innovations, including the first computerized metal detector featuring digital signal processing, patented in 1987

Reasons To Start Metal Detecting

There are few hobbies that can provide the joy and exhilaration that you get with metal detecting. When you first start detecting and hear the “bleep bleep” that lets you know you have found something buried in the ground, the heart starts to beat faster, adrenaline is pumping and the anticipation of finding something of historic value is a great feeling.

For some this feeling never goes away and they become life long detectorists.

In most cases you probably won’t find anything of value on your first dig, but don’t let that put you off. There is still plenty of history to be unearthed in the UK and it could be hidden just inches beneath your feet.

If you are on the fence about taking up the hobby, the following reasons might just sway your decision.

You Can Make Money Metal Detecting

Image result for man wearing metal detecting headphonesIf you are really lucky you could strike it rich while metal detecting and find a horde of Roman coins a gold torque or maybe even an unknown fort or settlement full of artifacts.

Take Derek McLennan for example who earned himself a massive £2m fortune in 2014, after unearthing the biggest horde of Viking treasure ever found in the UK.

The horde included silver brooches, bracelets, gold rings, gold ingots, crystal, beads and even an enamelled Christian cross. Derek found the collection of 10th century objects in Dumfries and Galloway in the South-West of Scotland. The collection is currently housed in Scotland’s National Museum.

Luckily for Derek the metal detecting laws in Scotland are different than in the rest of the UK. In England the proceeds of the find would of been split between the landowner and the person who found it. In Scotland the person who discovers the treasure gets to keep the full amount of any money that is awarded

When the treasure was first discovered it was handed over to the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QTLR). After a short period of time it was decided that the horde should go to the National Museam on the condition they pay Derek £2 million.


This is just one instance of somebody earning themselves a tidy fortune from metal detecting. If you are interested in some of the other big finds in Britain, you should check out my article on the most valuable metal detector finds in the UK. 

Becoming a detectorist for monetary gain alone is not something I recommend, it is possible to make money though. It is worth remembering that there are rules and regulations to follow when you do actually find something of importance. We will cover more on metal detecting laws and what to do with your finds later on.

Keeps You Active

Another good reason to start metal detecting are the health benefits. With many keen detectorists spending hours at a time walking around fields and digging in the dirt, you can imagine how many calories they are burning.

There have been many times after a day out in the fields that I have come back absolutely shattered. This mostly happens in the Summer when the ground gets really dry and hard making it hard work to get to your finds.

In my opinion there is nothing better than been outside on a wonderful day with the sun beaming, surrounded by the sounds of nature.

On first thoughts you might not think of metal detecting as been a form of exercise, but it is a great way for the whole family to get plenty of fresh air and to stay active.

Make New Friends

If you stick with the hobby you will without doubt meet many new people and make some good friends along the way.

Metal detecting is great for socialising and there are many clubs and rallies in both the UK and around the world that you can join.

If you aren’t really a sociable person then the hobby is still a good choice. Many detectorists prefer to go it alone when out detecting and there is nothing wrong with that. Simply, put your headphones on and forget your troubles and the modern world, for a short time at least anyway.

A good mid ground between metal detecting solitude and joining a club are forums and Facebook groups. There are many forums and groups where you can get more involved with the hobby without having to meet people.

These are great places for people to share their finds and to ask for any advice. You will find many helpful, friendly and knowledgable people in these places, as well as the odd idiot.

If joining a club is something you think you might be interested in, be sure to check out my list of UK metal detecting clubs. This is the most up to date list of active clubs on the internet.

Passion For History

By far the most popular reason people go metal detecting is because of their passion for history.

What better way is their to find out about our ancestors than digging up the past and bringing to light items that may have been buried for centuries, if not millennia.

If you already have a love for history, you will love metal detecting.

For many detectorists finding and unearthing objects is only the first stage. The next stage is the research of the item you have found and trying to answer any questions you may have surrounding it.

For most this usually includes questions such as, how old is it? what was it used for? and how much is it worth?

The research stage is one of my favourite parts of been a detectorist. A lot of the items I have found over the years and having to research them has lead to me learning quite a lot about the history of my local area.

Fun For All The Family

If you are looking for a hobby or past time that the whole family can enjoy you could do a lot worse than metal detecting.

My daughter is 7 years old and after coming out with me only a few times beach detecting, she started to ask for her very own metal detector. It didn’t take too much persuasion to be honest and I went and bought her one almost immediately.

I know have my very own little apprentice detectorist following in my footsteps, literally.

My point is that metal detecting is a great family activity suitable for all ages, men, women and children. The hobby has given me and my family many fond memories some of which I know we will never forget.

Metal Detecting For Beginners

So what do you think? Is metal detecting something you are still interested in?

If the answer is yes, the next step is to start considering the equipment you will need to get started. In other words, how do I get started metal detecting and what is it going to cost me?

Before you can go on your first dig you are going to have to purchase all the necessary equipment. To start off with as a bare minimum you are going to need a metal detector and a digging tool.

Most of the equipment on the following list is optional, however, the more equipment you can tick of the list the easier and more enjoyable your treasure hunting experience will be.

What Do I Need To Get Started Metal Detecting

Metal Detector

It goes without saying that you aren’t going to find much without a metal detector.

The problem with been a beginner is the lack of knowledge and not knowing what to look for when buying one for the first time. With so many different brands and models to choose from buying a metal detector can be a mine field.

The first thing to think about is your budget and how much you can afford or are willing to spend on one. In my opinion it is best to buy a model with a good mix of affordability and quality.

I would strongly recommend avoiding the very cheapest models on the market. These tend to be low quality in all departments and will cause more frustration than enjoyment.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some very good cheap metal detectors available. It’s just that you have to know what to look for and that usually comes with experience.


With this been the most important purchase you will make for your new hobby, I have dedicated a full guide on the best metal detector reviews. In my best metal detector reviews guide, I break down everything you need to know about choosing a metal detector as well as bringing you the best models for all budgets.

One good thing about metal detectors is their low rate of depreciation. If you do buy one and after a short while decide metal detecting isn’t for you, it is possible to recoup back a large percentage of the purchase price.

A few models I recommend for beginners are the Garrett Ace 150

Metal Detecting Headphones

Unlike a metal detector, it is not compulsory for you to go and buy a set of headphones to go metal detecting. Having a pair though does have its advantages.

Related imageAlthough metal detectors do have a built-in speaker that will alert you with a “beep”when you have found something, it is easier to differentiate between the different tones of certain objects when wearing headphones.

Learning the different tones that your detector makes for different metals and objects, is the best way to save time digging up worthless junk.

The price of a pair of headphones for metal detecting is quite broad and in terms of quality, you get what you pay for. A decent affordable pair can be bought for about £25 with the Garrett MS-2 and Garrett Easy Stowaway Headphones been a good starting point. It is worth mentioning that these both come with a wire, which can get in the way at times.

For those of you that are 100% certain that you will be sticking with the hobby and are only interested in buying the best equipment, check out my guide to choosing the best metal detecting headphones. In there you will find everything you need to know about choosing metal detecting headphones as well as a list of the top models.

Pinpointer (optional)

A pinpointer is a great time and energy saving metal detecting accessory. Although they are not a must buy accessory, they make life a lot easier for a detectorist.

Essentially, a pinpointer is a mini metal detector probe that helps you to locate your target. Sometimes when you locate an object and start digging it can be hard to find what it is your detector has picked up.

The pinpointer allows you to probe around in the soil and detect what is hidden in the dirt in the whole you have dug. Similar to a metal detector it will give off a “beep” when it has found something.

There are plenty of options in terms of both price and quality when choosing a pinpointer for metal detecting. A bog standard one will set you back about £25, with the KMOON offering a good mix of affordability and quality. On the other end of the scale a top of the range pinpointer from a well-known metal detector brand will cost anything between £100 and £250. The Garrett Pro Pointer AT comes highly recommended and is probably the best selling pinpointer available, it is often referred to as “the carrot”.

For more information on pinpointers check out my full buying guide.

Shovel/Digging Tool

The importance of having a good quality and strong digging tool for metal detecting can’t be stressed enough. Many gardening shovels and trowels are perfect for use in the soft soil of your back garden, but when it comes to hard sun baked soil or soil with a heavy clay mix they just don’t last.

The difference in price for a good quality shovel and a cheap one made from poor quality materials is only about a £10. The shovel I have been using for a couple of years now and without any problems is the Draper Mini. It cost me £20 on Amazon and is used by many detectorists.

Over the years I have seen, and personally experienced, several occasions when digging implements have bent or broken completely while in use.

For futher reading I have written a buying guide on the best digging tools for metal detecting. The guide has everything you need to know about choosing the right digging implements for your needs. It also includes a list of my top 5 recommendations for both shovels and trowels.

Spare Batteries

I would always advise on taking a spare set of batteries with you for your metal detector. The last thing you want to happen is for your batteries to run out when you are miles away from the nearest shop.

In the early days this happened to me on a handful of occasions, you live and learn.

If you intend on doing a lot of detecting it makes sense to invest in a good set of rechargeable batteries. The initial outlay is significantly more, but you will save yourself quite a lot of money over time.

Suitable Clothing

Common sense applies here and with the British weather been notoriously unpredictable it makes sense to always hava a warm waterproof jacket, especially in the winter months. A warm hat is another essential for the colder months.

From mid Spring and all through the Summer months you can catch me wearing shorts and a T-shirt while out metal  detecting in fields or on the beach, but I always keep a change of clothes in the car for those times when the weather all of a sudden takes a turn for the worse. There have been numerous times when I have been caught in a sudden torrential downpour that appeared to come out of nowhere.

Another essential piece of kit is suitable footwear. The footwear I use depends on the terrain I am detecting on and the weather conditions. Obviously, if I am beach detecting I always wear a pair of wellies. When out in the fields I wear either wellies, waterproof boots or sometimes even a pair of trainers.

The footwear you choose to wear when you are detecting is a matter of personal preference. Personally, I would recommend you invest in a decent pair of wellington boots at the very least.

Finds Bag

Once you have found something buried in the ground and carefully retrieved it, you are going to need somewhere to keep it. Most detectorists can be found wearing a finds pouch wrapped around their shoulder or tied around their waist. This handy accessory gives you a convenient and hassle free place to keep your finds without worrying you are going to lose them.

Another positive of some of the finds bags available is that they have places to store your pinpointer and trowel. You can buy one for about £15 on Ebay and Amazon with the Garrett Finds Pouch been a popular choice.

Log Book



Deciding whether or not you should get insurance is a decision you should consider when becoming a detectorist. It isn’t compulsory for you to have insurance, but there are obvious benefits to doing so.

It is worth mentioning that anybody who becomes a member of the FID or NCMD automatically gets public liability insurance with their membership.

I will go a bit more in-depth on the matter of insurance and metal detecting laws further on in this guide.

Where Can I Go Metal Detecting

Now that you are all kitted out with your metal detector and accessories you are probably wondering, where can I go metal detecting?

There are many places you can go with your metal detector, the important thing to remember though is that some require permission and others don’t.

You can’t just go digging up anywhere you like and if you do, you could potentially find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

In this section I will be covering everything you need to know about where you can and can’t go metal detecting.

Where Can I Go Metal Detecting Without Permission?

For most people the first thing they want to do once they have bought a metal detector is to go and use it.

I was exactly the same and couldn’t wait to assemble my brand new Garrett 150. Once delivered, I pretty much destroyed the box on opening in my excitement to get to it.

After carefully assembling my new toy the first thing I did was go to the nearest place I could test it out. With me being at home this just happened to be the garden.


The garden is a good place to get to know your first metal detector.

In addition it can also be a very good place to make your first metal detecting find.

If you live in quite an old house that has a bit of history to it there is quite a good chance that you could potentially find something of value.

There have been some good finds made over the years in people’s back gardens. For most of us though a few old coins is probably the best find that will be made.

If your house is a new build you then you might not be so lucky. That doesn’t mean to say that there wasn’t something lost or buried underneath your new house a long time ago, you just never know.

The good thing about gardens is that nearly everybody has one and they are a great place to get kids started with metal detecting.

Many detectorists have a test bed set up in their back garden for fine tuning and testing their detector. I will cover more on test beds in a different article.


If you are like me and lucky enough to live next to the coast then you have another great place to go metal detecting. Beach detecting can turn up some pretty awesome finds and the best thing is that you don’t need permission.

Until quite recently it was required that you seek permission through the appropriate channels to metal detect on the beach. This involved applying for a permit known as Crown Estate metal detecting permit.

The permit has now been abolished and there is no need to worry about getting in trouble when you are beach detecting.

That been said there are still a number of beaches that metal detecting is not permitted on. To see if you are allowed to use your metal detector on your local beach you should always check the Crown Estate Map.

The good thing about beaches for detectorists is that people tend to lose a lot of things there. Items can easily become buried in the sand or lost in the sea while swimming.

Some of the items I have found in the past on the include watches, rings, earrings, phones, wallets and of course coins.


The only bad thing about beaches is the amount of rubbish thrown away. From empty cans of pop and beer to lighters and so much more, there are plenty of things there for you to waste your time digging up.

After a while you will learn to distinguish between what is worth digging up and what you shouldn’t waste your time on. This comes with experience and knowing your metal detector with the beach been a great place to acquire both these.

If you would like to learn more about beach detecting check out my full guide.

Metal Detecting Club

If you are unfortunate enough to not live near the coast and don’t have a garden then I would strongly recommend  joining a metal detecting club.

There are many clubs dotted around the country and most of them are always looking for new members.

The benefits of joining a club if you don’t have permission to detect anywhere are that they already have plenty of places with permission granted.

Most clubs are actively seeking new land to detect on at all times and they are a great place for a beginner to start.

Membership fees do apply and you are typically looking at paying £15 a month for full membership. In addition to gaining access to multiple sites you also get the experience of all the other members. detectorists are a friendly bunch and most are always willing to help out a newcomer.


It is worth noting that some clubs require you to be a member of the FID or NCMD. I’m sure most clubs would be willing to assist in helping you apply for membership. In the same breath, I am confident many clubs will still let you go on digs while you wait for your membership details to come through the post.

If a metal detecting club is something you are interested in, you should check out my page on the metal detecting clubs currently active in the UK. This is the most up to date resource on the internet and is continuously been added to.

Where Can I Go Metal Detecting Legally

In this section I will be covering all of the places where you need the permission of the landowner to use your metal detector on.

It is of the upmost importance to always seek permission before you step foot on any of the following with your metal detector.

Obtaining permission is the hardest part of being a detectorist and it can be a very frustrating at times. If done in the correct way though, your success rate of gaining perission will be considerably higher. I will cover more on the subject later on in this guide.


Farmers fields are by far the most desireable place for a detectorist to gain permission to metal detect on.

Over the years many of the most valuable treasure hordes have been found buried beneath farmers fields.

Understandably, gaining permission can be a tricky task. Many farmers don’t take kindly to strangers been on their land, especially ones that just turn up out of nowhere and ask if they can go digging up their fields.

If you are lucky enough to get a farmers permission, you dramatically increase your chances of finding something of monetary and historical value.

Just remember farmers tend to use a lot of shotgun cartridges. These are a nightmare for metal detecting enthusiasts, I have dug hundreds of these up over the years, lol.

There are two types of farmers fields to be aware of these are ploughed and pasture.


Ploughed fields have both advantages and disadvantages for the detectorist.

When a farmer ploughs his field the action of the rotary blades on their machinery helps to bring items that are buried much closer to the surface. In some cases they will bring them to the very top and you can find them just lying on top of the soil.

There have been many times when I have been using my detector and something has caught my eye in the soil. I have then gone to see what it is, only to find it has been mangled by the farmers heavy machinery.

This is the disadvantage to detecting on ploughed fields.

If you are a gambling person you might like ploughed fields, it really can be all or nothing with them at times.


Similar to ploughed fields, pasture has both advantages and disadvantages.

The first and most obvious, is that due to less soil disturbance any finds tend to be in much better condition. That is not to say, that fields that are now pasture haven’t been ploughed in the past.

This is why research plays a very important part in metal detecting. Asking landowners questions and researching the history of the land can be very beneficial.

Another advantage is that you can pretty much detect on pasture fields all year round. As long as the farmer doesn’t object and there are no livestock in the field.

The only disadvantage that I can think of for detecting on pasture is that once they have been given a good search they don’t give up much afterwards.

In summary, fields are a great place to make finds of all sorts from many different periods in time.

Woods & Footpaths

Woods and public footpaths can be another very good place to make some interesting finds. The word “public” can be very misleading with many people misinterpreting its meaning and thinking it means nobody owns the land.

This is not the case and you need permission from the landowner to use your metal detector in woods and on footpaths.

The word “public” only means that the owner of the land has given the public “rights of access”.

If you are lucky enough to track down the owner of the land and get permission, you could be in for some very interesting finds.

Parks & Commons

The chances of managing to gain permission to detect on parks and commons is very slim. This type of land is classed as been owned by the local council and they rarely grant permission.

There areonly a handful of Council’s around the country that will let you use your metal detector on some of their land.

If you live in one of these areas then you are in luck. Parks and commons are used to hold many events from concerts and Summer fayre’s to the circus and fairgrounds. Wtih this much foot traffic and amount of people things are bound to get lost.



Researching Land For Metal Detecting

In addition to the actual metal detecting itself, the researching of land to find potential sites is one of my favourite parts of the hobby.

For many enthusiasts the research involved is part and parcel of been a detectorist and taking the time to do this can pay off big time.

For me personally there are two types of land research that I do. The first is for finding new sites and the second is for when I have been granted permission by the owner of the land. This is when I really try my best to find as much as possible about the history of the land.

The more you learn about the land and what was there in the past the better your chances are of making finds. A good example been modern maps. These are great for many things, but not for telling you what was there in the past.

Over time the course of footpaths can alter and end up been quite a distance away from where they were a few hundred years ago. These little titbits of information could be the difference between a day of digging junk or a day of extraordinary finds.

There are many resources that can be used for researching land with some been better than others. The following are a few that I have found particularly useful over the years.

Google Maps

If you are one of the internet generation, one of the first ideas that might pop in to your head is to use Google Earth for researching land.

If you did, then well done!

Google Earth is an excellent resource to use for investigating both the land you have permission for and for finding potential new sites.

The main benefit is the birds eye view that gives you a different view of the layout of the land. This enables you to see things that you otherwise would have missed from ground level.

If you have a keen eye for detail you can find some really interesting things with Google Earth.

Old Maps Websites

This resource is the one that I use to conduct most of my own reasearch as I find it the most useful. Thanks to modern technology and the internet it is now possible to conveniently scan through many of the old maps of the UK.

This is great for metal detecting and you can learn so much information about the land and what is was used for by simply looking at an old map.

When I first got in to metal detecting and came across this resource, the first thing I did was type in my home address at the time. To my surprise in the 1870’s there used to be a hospital for infectious diseases, gasworks, mills and a train track all within a few hundred meters of my home.

The old maps website allows you to go back in time through all the maps they have on their database. Simple type in your home town, city etc, postcode or even grid references and you can view them instantly for free.

Crown State Metal Detecting Map


Obtaining Permission From Landowners


Metal Detecting Code of Conduct

The metal detecting code of conduct is something that all true detectorists adhere to at all times. Certain parts of the code of conduct are voluntary and others you are legally required to adhere too.

The purpose of the code is to set guidelines in place that protect our beautiful landscape and history for the general public and landowners. It also helps to build a good reputation for metal detecting and detectorists.

Whether or not you choose to follow the code is entirely your own decision, but you won’t be making many friends if you show complete disregard for it.

You will find that many clubs have their own code of conduct. This is usually the same as the original, but with a few additions.

The standard code of conduct set by the NCMD is as follows.

NCMD Code Of Conduct

No Trespassing – All land is owned by someone and you should always seek permission from the landowner before venturing on to it.

Respect The Country Code – Make sure you always close gates behind you, try not to frighten livestock or nesting birds, do not damage crops and always clean up any litter. You can see the full Countryside Code here.

Ground Care – If you do dig a hole and extract an object from the ground always make sure that you backfill the hole. In the first instance try to use a plug or trapdoor to retrieve the item. This will ensure you leave there is as little disturbance as possible to the ground. Leaving a hole in the ground is a potential hazard to both livestock and humans.

Protected Sites – You should follow the laws regarding protected sites to the letter, failing to do so could lead to prosecution. Protected sites include Scheduled Monuments and Sites Of Special Scientific Interest or (SSSI). Remember it is your own responsibility to check that the site you are detecting on is not protected. If you are not sure you can always check the Scheduled Monuments Map or the list of Sites Of Special Scientific Interest in the UK.


Treasure Act – Follow the Treasure Act at all times and strictly adhere to the Treasure Act Code of Practice. This is compulsory and failure to do so could lead to prosecution.

Record Your Finds – It’s a good idea to record your finds, at least the ones worth recording anyway. This usually involves recording the location, what you found and at what depth. Recording your location can be done by using the GPS on your mobile phone.

Report Your Finds – Reporting any archaeological or historic find is very important. The first port of call should be the landowner or tenant and then the Portable Antiquities Scheme should be notified.

Handling Finds – The handling, storage and the care of any items you find is something you should learn about. Taking the time to learn this aspect of the hobby will help you to preserve any items you find in the correct way.

Seek Advice – In any circumstance where you come across live ammunitions, bombs, dead bodies or skeletal remains you should always report it to the appropriate authorities.

Do I Need Insurance For Metal Detecting?

One question that crops up a lot when I’m talking to somebody interested in metal detecting is, do I need Insurance?

At present there is no legal requirement for you to have any form of insurance as a detectorist.

That been said I would strongly recommend that you get insurance. Like most things in life, there are many things that could potentially go wrong when detecting. My feelings on the subject are, that it’s better to be safe than sorry!

The type of insurance needed is called Public Liability Insurance or PLI. If you run your own business or are self-employed you may already be aware of what this type of insurance is. For those that don’t know, Public Liability Insurance covers you for damage up to a value of £10,000,000.

Anybody can apply for PLI and there are a number of ways to go about it.

The first and most obvious is to get a policy with an insurance company. Surprising to beginners is the fact that this is not the usual route that most metal detectorists go down.


A large percentage of those involved in the hobby decide to become members of the NCMD or the FID. Both of these metal detecting organisations provide insurance cover for their members. This is inclusive of the very low membership fees and considerably cheaper than using an insurance company.

So who are the NCMD and the FID?

NCMD (National Council for Metal Detecting)

The NCMD is a government recognised organisation of elected volunteers that represent detectorists all across the UK.

First formed in 1981 they are the voice of the hobby and they have played a major role in representing the views of detectorists with regards to legislation affecting metal detecting.

To become a member of this organisation only costs £8 per year and there are many benefits that come with a membership.

The first is that you get Public Liability Insurance up to the tune of £10 million. The Policy provides indemnity against liability to pay damages in respect of claims arising out of the conduct of insured activities. Insured activities are those that are authorised and recognised by the National Council for Metal Detecting.

Additional benefits include local and Government representation for any matter that is related to metal detecting. Members also receive a newsletter every 3 months that keeps you up to date with important news and information.

Just to clarify joining the NCMD isn’t compulsory, but I highly recommend that you do. The peace of mind you get knowing that you are fully insured and for only £8 a year is worth it.

You can apply for insurance with the NCMD on their website.

FID (Federation of Independent Detectorists)

The Federation Of Independent Detectorists or the FID are another metal detecting organisation that can provide you with insurance.

To join as a member costs £13.50 and then only £4.50 per year.

Members get the advantage of having insurance coverage up to a value of £5 million.

Metal Detecting Laws In The UK

It is a good idea to acquaint yourself with the laws surrounding metal detecting finds in the UK. Failing to comply with the law could potentially land you in big trouble as well as with a fine.

If you find something that isn’t classed as treasure you can keep it for your collection, as long as the owner of the land has no objection.

If you find items that are classed as treasure in the United Kingdom, very specific rules of “Treasure” or, in Scotland “Treasure Trove”, apply to what you may be entitled to and what you have to do.

Treasure act

What is classed as treasure?

Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR)?

What is an SSSI?

Scheduled monuments

consent for detecting



The Portable Antiquities Scheme?

What is a Finds Liaison officer?

How To Clean Metal Detecting Finds

Cleaning Coins

leaning Jewellery

Cleaning Buttons

Metal Detecting Tips


Final Words


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.