Sweden joins ECMD!


We are very excited to announce that a new member has joined the ECMD – Sveriges Metallsökarförening (SMF), set up in 2012, is a society of metal detecting enthusiasts who will now be representing Sweden in our organisation. With almost 200 members throughout the country, the society is working very hard to provide Swedish detectorists with extensive knowledge about responsible metal detecting. The members of the SMF also take part in various events around Europe, as a result of which they have a very active and united community. The SMF wanted to join the ECMD so that all of our members can work together to protect the rights of detectorists and promote responsible metal detecting not just in Sweden, but all around Europe. Their country is currently going through some massive changes in terms of metal detecting regulations and the ECMD will try very hard to support them during this process. More information about SMF can be found on their website: http://www.sverigesmetallsokarforening.se/


MEDEA – artefacts database from Belgium. A sign of things to come?


Metal detecting in Flanders, one of the main four regions in Belgium, has recently experienced some major changes. Since April 2016, registered metal detectorists can legally search for archaeological artefacts and sites around the region. (You can find more information about those changes here: https://ecmd.eu/2016/06/10/metal-detecting-in-europe-belgium-case-for-flanders) In addition, a very promising project was set up at the Brussels Free University in 2014 – the “MEDEA” platform¹. Even though metal detecting in Flanders is now officially legal, archaeological professionals still find it difficult to access the information related to some metal detected finds, as a result of which they cannot use these artefacts for any kind of meaningful research.

The MEDEA project is designed to, among other things, create a platform which can provide archaeologists and other experts with sufficient information about archaeological objects found in Flanders. Pieterjan Deckers, the coordinator of this project, has found that the lack of trust in cooperation with archaeologists and often inadequate feedback on finds are some of the major barriers which prevent detectorists from consistently reporting their discoveries². The platform, which is currently going through a testing phase, was set up in order to provide a resolution to these problems. The project was inspired by successful systems in other countries, such as the Portable Antiquities Scheme in England and Wales, as well as the Danefæ law in Denmark, which encourage detectorists to report their finds.

In order to understand how MEDEA works, it is best to explain the discovery reporting process step-by-step.

First, it is necessary to fill in a special form. The person who made the discovery must provide some basic information about the find, such as material type and dimensions, as well as some good-quality pictures. The precise location where the object was found must also be specified. However, only registered experts will see the exact location, whereas other users will be presented with an area of approximately 7x11km. Once the document is complete, it can then be sent to a person who will examine it and look for any potential errors. If all the details are correct, the discovery will be published on the platform where it can be viewed by everyone, including non-registered users, although some confidential information will obviously be excluded. In some rare situations (for example, when a treasure is found) information about the discovery will not have to be published until further research has taken place.

As already mentioned, the platform is currently going through a testing phase and it will take some time before it is fully ready. However, it already looks very promising and it is definitely a step in the right direction for metal detectorists in Flanders and possibly in other parts of Belgium too. The real question of course is whether MEDEA , or similar platform, will be adopted by other countries where currently there are also some problems with find reporting and recording. Let’s hope that it will.

¹ https://medea.weopendata.com/

² http://www.dhbenelux.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/28_Deckers-et-al_FinalAbstract_DHBenelux2016_short.pdf

Metal detecting in Sweden – new regulations?


Although not easy, contrary to popular belief, metal detecting in Sweden is not illegal, provided that certain rules are being followed. Since the 1st of January 2014, a special licence is required to use metal detectors in Sweden and to bring them into areas where ancient monuments can be found. It is also not possible to obtain permission to use a metal detector in order to look for ancient artefacts. Permits are not given in or near an ancient monument or a place where unknown ancient monuments or artefacts are likely to be found. In general, the licence period should not exceed one year. As a matter of fact, these types of metal detecting permits tend to last for just 3 months.

However, according to Swedish officials, some problems have arisen as a result of the permit/licence system. The number of applications for the use of metal detectors has increased severely. In 2012 the County Administrative Boards received 409 cases, compared to 2153 in 2015. Approximately 90% of the applications came from hobbyists, many of whom are searching in several counties simultaneously, as a result of which the applications usually cover a large number of areas. Because of the huge amount of these applications, the County Administrative Boards are often unable make decisions within a reasonable amount time.

The Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) has now proposed that a fee for applications for the use and carrying of metal detectors should be introduced from the 1st of July 2017. This new change is intended to combat the high number of applications in order to make the whole process more efficient.

The size of the fee will be based on class 2 of the 10§ Fees Ordinance (1992:191), which corresponds to 700 SEK (approximately €73), same as the fee for a licence to own a firearm. Furthermore, each geographical area which is included in the application will be considered to be a chargeable case, as a result of which it will not be possible to apply for a wide range of areas within a single application. Individuals who need to use metal detectors as part of their business may be granted a so-called general permit for a larger area and for more than one year.

On the surface it looks just like an ordinary change in the administrative procedure. However, this does not tell the whole story. At the moment, many (if not most) applications for the permission to use metal detectors are denied, which means that countless numbers of individuals will pay for something that they will not actually get if this new law gets passed. As already mentioned, these permits usually last for just 3 months, which means that metal detectorists will have to renew them quite often and pay the application fee each time. In addition, these individuals are sometimes forced to wait up to 12 months just to get an answer (which tends to be negative more often than not) about their applications.

Even though the introduction of an application fee for the use and carrying of metal detectors may seem reasonable at first, there are many problems which could arise as a result of it. It’s possible to foresee that some people will be unable to pay the application fee (especially if permits have to be renewed every 3 months or so), while others will be put off by long waiting times in some counties. Unfortunately, this means that there is likely to be an increase in nighthawking and other illegal activities if the new law gets passed. The County Administrative Boards are going to reduce the number applications for the use of metal detectors, but they will also have to deal with a whole new array of problems.

Source: Kulturdepartementet Ku2016/01648/KL

(Article prepared by Filip Jarosz with the help of Robbin Ask of http://www.sverigesmetallsokarforening.se/ )

Metal detecting in France – a new law


A significant new bill was passed in France on the 7th of July 2016. The law on the freedom of creation, architecture and heritage (Liberté de la Création, Architecture et Patrimoine) is designed to modernise the heritage protection system, among other things. It is concerned with issues such as art, music and architecture, as well as archaeological research, which also makes it relevant to the world of metal detecting.

Under Article L. 541-4 of the Heritage Code, which was introduced by Article 70 of this new Act, archaeological discoveries made on land which has changed hands after the 7th of July 2016 will now belong to the state. Prior to this change, any such artefacts would go to the landowner or, if it was an accidental discovery, half of it could also be claimed by the person who found it (such as a metal detectorist).

Once a discovery is reported, it is then up to the Territorial Commission to decide whether or not it should be officially registered as an archaeological artefact. If the answer is yes, then the object will belong to the French state. Otherwise, it will be retained by the landowner and the person who found the artefact. Even if the object belongs to the state, the landowner can sometimes receive compensation for any damage that was caused to his property during the process of discovery. If the discovery is made on land which was acquired before the 7th of July 2016, then, according to Article L. 541-5 of the Heritage Code, the landowner and the finder can claim it as their own.

Dominique Garcia, the president of the National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (l’Institut national de recherche archéologiques préventives) has made it clear that the new law applies everywhere. Public and private lands will both be treated in the same way. This can even apply to certain caves, which are technically the remains of ancient real estate. As a result, some moveable objects found in caverns, such as ceramics or ivory, will belong to the state if there is enough scientific interest in their preservation.

Overall, this is quite clearly bad news for the metal detectorists in France, as this new law will severely restrict their ability to participate in the cultural life of the French society and prevent them from contributing to the discovery and protection of archaeological heritage. We suspect that this will have a detrimental effect on the number of reported finds, as many people will lose their will to search for artefacts, while some may even try to sell them to private buyers, which is exactly what the new law is trying to avoid.

ECMD meets Polish detectorists and archaeologists


August was a particularly busy month for our organisation as we were invited to two separate events in Poland in order to present the aims of ECMD as well as to explain how the law related to metal detecting works in different European countries. First event was in a beautiful little town of Wschowa in Western Poland and was organised by one of the numerous Polish metal detecting/exploration societies which invited detectorists from five major exploration societies as well as archaeologists and conservators and museum staff from different areas of Poland. During a very intensive two days, all guests had an opportunity to listen to different viewpoints, highlighting problems faced by enthusiasts of metal detecting in Poland. According to Polish law, metal detecting for archaeological and historical artefacts is not illegal provided that the permit is obtained from a government official responsible for the heritage protection in the specific region. It is neither easy to obtain nor is it very practical, being more suited to a search for one particular target/treasure than an almost instinctive activity of metal detecting. ECMD delegation, represented by our president Igor Murawski and Filip Jarosz, student of Law and International Relations at the University of Surrey, who is a volunteer with the ECMD during his work experience year, concentrated on proving that good compromise between responsible metal detectorists and archaeologists is possible. Examples of cooperation between both sides in UK, Denmark and recent changes in law in Flemish countries were very well received by the audience, igniting an interesting and stimulating debate. Highlight of the event happened on the second day when representatives of metal detecting societies decided to form an official Polish Metal Detecting Federation, with the aim of joining the ECMD and working towards a constructive change in law. 

Second event was of a slightly different nature – “Festival of Mysteries” held annually at the picturesque Książ Castle in South-West Poland, is the biggest event related to the mysteries of the past, metal detecting, archaeology etc., organised in Poland. It is attended by tens of thousands of people interested in history, who come from all over the country and often from abroad, with their families, to listen to invited guests, experts in their respective fields, watch historical events reconstructions and generally enjoy the special atmosphere over three days of the Festival. Our delegation’s presentation, entitled “Treasure Hunting and Metal Detecting in Europe – Law and Reality”, full of anecdotes related to famous moments in European metal detecting and examples of laws and regulations in various countries, was especially well received and appreciated by the audience. It is clear that metal detecting in Poland is a growing hobby, enjoyed by thousands, in a need of precise and sensible laws and regulations. European Council for Metal Detecting will do it’s best to play an active part in advising our Polish colleagues on how to reach a workable compromise with archaeologists. Based on our recent talks we are feeling optimistic that this goal can be reached soon.

Film of ECMD presentation at “Festiwal Tajemnic, Książ 14/08/2016”

METAL DETECTING IN DENMARK – The landscape of amateur archaeology in Denmark


In Denmark, there are many archaeology societies, with thousands of members. When also including the museum societies, the member numbers are in the tens of thousands, and in general, there is a huge interest for history and archaeology, compared to many other countries. Of course, what interests the individual varies from member to member. Some people act as voluntary guides at the local museums. Some are interested in excavations, reading and study. And last but not least, some are interested in metal detecting. In this short walkthrough, we will concentrate on the metal detecting activity, the metal detecting background in Denmark, the regulations, and give a thought to the future.


The Danish law, when it comes to metal detecting, is very liberal. You may detect almost everywhere. This is of course not the whole truth; there are limitations and restrictions, like in many other countries. The law, probably the oldest in the world, goes back to “Codex Holmiensis” year 1241, Valdemar the Conqueror, stated that, what is found in the soil and of value, is “Danefæ” and belongs to the king. This has today turned into a more modern form, and the field is now regulated by the Museums Act. The act in short states, that anything found that is of historical importance, has to be handed over to the state (i.e. the museums, local or national). This includes artefacts of all types of material such as stone, amber, bone or metal objects. The National Museum is responsible for determining whether the finder receives a reward. The size of this reward is based on factors such as historical importance of the artefact, material value and how the artefact was handled during it’s retrieval from the ground, and the subsequent recording of the find location.

As an example of the law, all coins up to the year 1536, have to be handed over. This also includes newer coins, if they are made of gold, large silver coins or rare coins of other types. Other regulations are; “Bekendtgørelse af lov om hittegods” (law on Lost property), ”Våbenloven” (the Weapons law), ”bygningsfredningsloven” (the building heritage act), Fredningsbestemmelser” (Preservation regulations for heritage scheduled sites) and probably more. A short summary: when detecting in Denmark, you need the landowners’ permission, and you have to ensure that the area is not a heritage-protected site. Other laws and regulation may also prohibit you from detecting on the site (military exercise areas and national forest). All your finds have to be handed over to the local museum. The museum then evaluates whether the finds are of historical importance or not. You may not dig deeper than the plough depth – approximately 30 cm.

Lastly our best advice: contact a detecting club in the area you want to detect in. They may advice you on where to detect, and who knows, they might even invite you along, on a joint search.



We pursue a high standard during our searches. It has to be mentioned, this is of some debate, and there are many opinions from various organisations – from almost no reporting of finds to long reports with tracking information, time estimates, gps etc. Each viewpoint may be right in certain circumstances. The standard of reporting is not only affected by the individual detectorists view on the matter. The reporting standard is also affected by the minimum requirements, as defined by the local museum. They vary from museum to museum. In general, all finds have to be kept in suitable zip-lock bags, and marked with gps-coordinates, name and date. Along with this a “handover” notice has to be filled in (you get this from the local museum or the national museums homepage).


It is said about Danes, that if there are three or more taking the elevator together – you can be sure that when they reach the top, a new club is founded. This is reflected by the many clubs and archaeology societies, we have many in DK. All with their own spirit and way of doing things. A guess, and this is a guess – there are around 20-30 detecting clubs, together with an unknown number of members without memberships – 2-3000 “detectorists” is a good guess. In general, the clubs stick to some shared rules. To mention a few “rules”; • Never search without approval • Never search where other detectorists are active, before having talked it over with them first. • Do not brake or violate the national laws • Cover your holes and leave the field as you found it. The clubs usually cooperate with the museums and the professionals, especially when rallies are held or at major events. The same is the case, when the clubs a joining special projects.


We have joined the ECMD, with the purpose of a joint venture in Europe, where we can share common experiences, struggles, and ways to do serious detector investigation, carried by the joy and the passion for history and archaeology. In Denmark, we will try to promote ECMD to every interested club. The goal is to unite all different detecting clubs in Denmark, so that we will all (or as many as possible) act as a unified body, when dealing with ECMD issues.

Glenn Abramsson, John Kristensen, Kenny Thygesen


National museum: http://natmus.dk/salg-og-ydelser/museumsfaglige-ydelser/danefae/ Kulturstyrelsen: http://www.kulturarv.dk/fundogfortidsminder/ (Here you find protected area, all registries of findings etc.)

Museums in Denmark: http://slks.dk/fortidsminder-diger/arkaeologi-paa-land/museernesarkaeologiske-arbejde/ansvarsomraader-og-kontakt/

Harja: http://harja.dk/news.php

Belgium joins ECMD!


It gives us a great pleasure to welcome a new member of ECMD – it’s NVD-ANP – Nationale Vereniging van Detectoristen – Association Nationale des Prospecteurs, which is one of the biggest metal detecting association in the Flanders region of Belgium and the only one with the status of Non Governmental Organisation. The aim of the association is to improve the collaboration with archaeologists and to defend the rights of metal detectorists. A core team of the association is already actively involved with archaeologists in many research projects, including “Waterloo Uncovered”. NVD-ANP will officially represent Belgium in ECMD. We’re very happy to have them in our organisation as the Flemish example of laws and regulations related to metal detecting is clearly a right step forward (we wrote about it in detail here: Metal detecting in Flanders ) and shows that a working compromise can be achieved between archaeologists and detectorists, if only both sides are willing to talk and seek consensus. You can check the NVD-ANP website here: NVD-ANP

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Metal detecting rally in Abruzzo, Italy.

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Summer is the season when metal detecting rallies kick off, even in places like Italy, where the sun is almost always present. At the July rally organised in the San Pio delle Camere, region of Abruzzo, east of Rome, two different metal detecting clubs joined forces for the first time. One was the “Idetectoristi Italiani” and the other was “Metal Detecting Club Italia”, which is officially representing Italy in the European Council for Metal Detecting. Present was Francesco Manzella , President of MDC Italia, along with Leonardo Ciocca and Edoardo Meacci , active members of ECMD. Around 80 detectorist coming from many Italian regions, including Sardinia and Sicily, took part in this event. It was organized over two days and the base was in a fantastic “agriturismo” (country farm) called “Centuria”, which provided hospitality to all participants.
The first day was a typical “icebreaker”, when everybody had the opportunity to practice free detecting in surrounding fields and in the evening talk about any relevant metal detecting issues and also of course to get know one another and enjoy each other company. On the second day the official rally began. Two different competitions took place, supported by numerous sponsors with great prizes. It was fantastic to see youngsters enjoying their first taste of metal detecting and mingling with “old hands”.
The location was superb and the reception excellent, notwithstanding that this part of Italy was hit by a severe earthquake in 2009.
Altogether a great event during which our members had a chance to explain the goals of the ECMD and promote the case for responsible metal detecting.

Text: Edoardo Meacci. Photos kindly provided by Anna Santoro


Denmark joins ECMD!


We are very happy to announce that our organisation has a new member – “Harja” is an association of archaeology and history enthusiasts which will officially represent Denmark in ECMD. Their name comes from an exceptional find – a comb, dated to around 150 AD, which carries the oldest runic inscription found in Denmark and which probably is the name of the owner of the comb. Harja was founded in 1971 and has since cooperated closely with many museums and associations in Denmark and abroad. Together with Odense By Museum, Harja publishes its own magazine about archaeological events and issues. Highly regarded by Danish archaeologists, Harja is very active and participates in many official archaeological digs, including a recent international project searching for the precise location of the Battle of Grunwald 1410. Harja also organises its own research and field trips, including metal detecting investigations, fully benefiting from the excellent “Danefæ” laws, about which we will write a bit more in a separate article. We are honoured to have such experienced organisation as our member and look forward to work with Harja in furthering the aims of ECMD. You can check their website here: http://harja.dk/news.php

ECMD on Brexit


Britain made a momentous and historic decision today. A decision which will have far reaching implications for its future. European Council for Metal Detecting would like to make it absolutely clear that this decision will in no way impede our work. ECMD is a pan-European organisation and we are not in any way connected with European Union institutions, so for us it is business as usual – we are here to promote and defend responsible metal detecting in ANY European country, not only member countries of EU. Our UK members and friends play a very important part in our plans for the growth of ECMD and today’s decision does not change that. We look forward to working with our colleagues from the British National Council for Metal Detecting NCMD in the future and are certain that the positive example of British metal detecting experiences will continue to be a great help and inspiration for our members and federations/organisations which currently consider joining the ECMD. We’re all Europeans and we’re all metal detectorists. Let’s work together.