British Museum news release.

Historic agreement on a first code of practice for metal detecting

2 May 2006


We are delighted to announce that a Code of Practice on Responsible Metal
Detecting in England and Wales has been agreed by all key archaeological
bodies and metal detecting and landowners' organisations. This is the first
time that these bodies have joined together to precisely define responsible
metal detecting and provides a clear and unambiguous definition of what
constitutes good practice.
 
The signatories are the National Council of Metal Detecting, the Federation
of Independent Detectorists, the Country Land and Business Association, the
National Farmers Union, the Council for British Archaeology, English
Heritage, National Museums and Galleries of Wales, Museums, Libraries and
Archives Council, The British Museum, the Portable Antiquities Scheme, the
Society of Museum Archaeologists and the Royal Commission for the Ancient
and Historical Monuments of Wales. The agreement is voluntary but has the
full endorsement of the signatories and all parties are committed to
ensuring its members abide by the advice set out in the document.

The agreement covers three aspects of metal detecting. The first section, '
Before you go metal-detecting', states you must obtain permission to search
from the landowner, adhere to laws concerning protected sites, join an
official metal-detecting club and follow conservation advice. 'Whilst you
are detecting' states that findspots should be recorded as accurately as
possible, that ground disturbance should be minimal and that the Country
Code should be respected. Finally it offers advice on procedures after you
have been detecting. Any and all finds should be reported to the landowner
and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, detectorists must abide by the
provisions of the Treasure Act and must seek expert help if they find
something large or an object made from unusual material and that they must
call the police if they discover any human remains.

It is hoped that the Code, alongside the Treasure Act legislation will
ensure that situations like that at Wanborough where the site of a
Romano-Celtic temple was decimated by unscrupulous treasure hunters will not
happen again. There have been many cases, particularly recently, of
responsible reporting of finds which have been of invaluable use to the
archaeological record, the Ringlemere Gold Cup, the Winchester Hoard and the
Staffordshire Moorlands Pan are but a few examples. The continuation of good
relations between archaeologists, museums and metal detectorists as embodied
by the Code will build on these examples and form the model for the future.

Dr Mike Heyworth, Director - Council for British Archaeology, commented:

"This Code represents a major step forward. It builds on earlier efforts to
provide guidance to all users of metal detectors. It emphasises the positive
contributions that responsible metal detectorists can make to the study of
the past through the knowledge we can obtain from finds and their
archaeological contexts. The Code also serves to emphasise the distinction
between responsible metal detectorists and the minority of irresponsible
individuals who use their equipment for personal gain".

Steve Critchley, Chairman - National Council for Metal-Detecting, said

"This Code is both fair and practical. By adhering to this Code the vast
majority of metal-detectorists will be able to demonstrate that they have a
genuine interest in the past and wish to benefit from the knowledge they
gain from their hobby. The National Council for Metal Detecting will be
replacing its exiting Code, a part of its Constitution, with the new one.
Adherence to the Code when metal detecting is a condition of membership".

For further information please contact Hannah Boulton in the Press Office on
020 7323 8522 or hboulton@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

The Code of Practice on Responsible Metal Detecting has been endorsed by the
British Museum, the Council for British Archaeology, the Country Landowners
and Business Association, English Heritage, the Federation of Independent
Detectorists, the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council, the National
Council for Metal Detecting, the National Farmers Union, the National Museum
Wales, the Portable Antiquities Scheme, the Royal Commission on the Ancient
and Historic Monuments of Wales and the Society of Museum Archaeologists.

The Code is available online at:
http://www.finds.org.uk/documents/CofP1.pdf

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary scheme to record
archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales.
Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by
metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or
going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for
understanding our past. The Scheme is run and administered from the British
Museum. More information can be found on www.finds.org.uk

Contact: Michael Lewis 0207 323 8611