Beginner Guide

How to buy a metal detector

Before you buy a metal detector there are a few questions you must ask yourself:

  • Where will you be metal detecting ?
  • What will you be searching for?
  • Will you be detecting on the beach? (wet beach or dry beach)?
  • What is your budget?
  • Have you ever detected before?
  • How much are you willing to spend?
  • How much time will you devote to detecting?
  • How good are you at adapting to new technology?



Getting Started

What to take with you when metal detecting

  • Always wear suitable clothing for the weather conditions. Remember to take waterproof clothing, just in case.
  • Take spare plastic bags to keep the detector dry in a downpour as well.
  • You will need to take a suitable digging trowel or spade to dig up all of those detector finds.
  • Containers or bags to keep finds clean & safe
  • Water & brushes to clean mud off finds in the field
  • For ease of carriage and to help keep your new metal detector clean a carry bag is helpful but not essential
  • Most detectors have a pinpoint mode but for extra freedom a pinpoint probe can be used.



Basic Kit
  • Warm or waterproof clothing (weather condition’s apply)
  • Sturdy boots (not steel toe) or wellies,
  • Water,
  • Gloves,
  • Basic first aid kit,
  • Insect repellent,
  • Notepad and pencil,
  • Mobile phone,
  • Trowel,
  • Headphones,
  • Batteries
  • And most importantly your metal detector!



  • All land in the UK has an owner, whose permission is required before you can use a metal detector.
  • It is illegal to use a metal detector on a scheduled ancient monument without permission.
  • To find a metal detecting club in your area see the list on the web site of The National Council for Metal Detecting?
  • When you are out using your metal detector always follow the code of conduct
  • You should note the location of any archaeological objects you find and take these to your local Finds Liaison Officer to record it.
  • Understand the definitions of Treasure contained in the Treasure Act of 1996 and understand your legal obligations to it.



1996 Treasure Act

The following finds are Treasure under the Act, if found after 24 September 1997 (or, in the case of category 2, if found after 1 January 2003):

  1. Any metallic object, other than a coin, provided that at least 10 per cent by weight of metal is precious metal (that is, gold or silver) and that it is at least 300 years old when found. If the object is of prehistoric date it will be Treasure provided any part of it is precious metal.
  2. Any group of two or more metallic objects of any composition of prehistoric date that come from the same find (see below)
  3. All coins from the same find provided they are at least 300 years old when found (but if the coins contain less than 10 per cent of gold or silver there must be at least ten of them). Only the following groups of coins will normally be regarded as coming from the same find:
    • hoards that have been deliberately hidden
    • smaller groups of coins, such as the contents of purses, that may been dropped or lost
    • votive or ritual deposits.
  4. Any object, whatever it is made of, that is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, another object that is Treasure.
  5. Any object that would previously have been treasure trove, but does not fall within the specific categories given above. Only objects that are less than 300 years old, that are made substantially of gold or silver, that have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery and whose owners or heirs are unknown will come into this category.

Note: An object or coin is part of the ‘same find’ as another object or coin if it is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, the other object. Finds may have become scattered since they were originally deposited in the ground.



What should I do if I find something that may be Treasure?
You must report all finds of Treasure to a coroner for the district in which they are found either within 14 days after the day on which you made the discovery or within 14 days after the day on which you realised the find might be treasure.

Beginners guide to metal detecting
Follow our beginners guide to help you understand metal detectors and to make an informed decision of what machine will suit you best. We answer some of your most Frequently asked questions and a step by step guide of how to use your machine.
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