ECMD believes strongly that responsible metal detecting should be treated fairly in all European countries. As promised earlier, we’ve also started lobbying at the European Parliament in Brussels, hoping that eventually one standard of practices related to detecting will be adopted throughout Europe. In our introductory letter, presented to various MEP’s we wrote:
“Dear Member of The European Parliament,
The European Council for Metal Detecting (ECMD) was set up on the 17th of April 2016 by the representatives of major metal detecting organisations from seven different European countries (Bulgaria, France, Ireland, Jersey, Poland, Spain and the UK), with the help from the National Council for Metal Detecting, during an international conference in Birmingham, UK. Since its inception, the organisation has welcomed four new members: Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Sweden. The ECMD strongly believes in the importance of responsible metal detecting. In the last few decades, many detectorists have contributed to the discoveries of some of the most significant and iconic historical artefacts all around the world. In addition to being an enjoyable and fulfilling hobby, metal detecting, if properly regulated, is also a very effective method of protecting cultural heritage.
The main goal of the European Council for Metal Detecting is to contribute to the development of the laws in Europe currently regulating metal detecting in a way which makes it possible to protect cultural heritage without excessively limiting this hobby, as well as to educate those who are not aware of relevant regulations.
Metal detecting in a fully legal and structured way.
In some European countries metal detecting is unjustly restricted, mainly due to misunderstanding of the hobby and the lack of appreciation of using volunteer detectorists to supplement often stretched archaeological resources. The are some international treaties which actually point out the relevance of citizens participation in heritage protection. One such treaty is the Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (also known as the Faro Convention 2005). This Convention, which was ratified or signed by more than 20 European states, is largely based on article 27 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which makes it clear that “everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits”. Among other things, the Faro Convention encourages everyone to contribute to the process of study and presentation of the cultural heritage, as a result of which metal detectorists should be allowed to analyse and report their finds. ECMD believes that metal detecting can be structured and regulated in an effective way in order to exploit the passion and knowledge of amateurs and implement and combine metal detecting techniques with a range of archaeological methods so that those techniques would be used during most archaeological surveys.
Challenges facing the ECMD.
Some authorities are not adequately educated about the topic of metal detecting. As a result, metal detecting is governed by ambiguous and unfair laws in many different European countries. For example, it is entirely possible to accidentally come across an ancient artefact without actually intending to find it. However, simply finding such objects is illegal in some countries. As a result, many people are forced to hide their accidental discoveries in order to avoid getting prosecuted, as opposed to simply informing a museum or an archaeologist about their find. Certain countries do not even have any laws related metal detecting, which makes it very difficult to act in an ethical way.
We are convinced that these strict laws do more harm than good, as the vast majority of detectorists wish to respect the law. A more lenient legal approach, would make it easier to protect and preserve cultural heritage, as this would encourage amateurs to look for and report artefacts which are buried close to the surface, while leaving more challenging work to the professionals. There are several countries where detectorists work closely together with archaeologists (and to a very good effect), such as Flanders, Denmark, England, Netherlands and Wales, but in many places this type of cooperation does not exist. One of the aims of our organisation is to encourage the two parties to join forces in countries where this has not happened yet.
ECMD – Change in European laws relating to metal detecting.
It is our intention to promote responsible and ethical practices with regard to metal detecting in all European countries. We hope that examples of workable compromises achieved in countries such as Denmark or Flanders can become a road map for other countries to follow, as as it is apparent that we are all working towards a common goal – the protection and preservation of European cultural heritage.
We sincerely hope that you will support our work and will help us to make sure that the hobby of metal detecting, undertaken in a responsible way, is treated with fairness and respect.”