Metal Detecting

Some people hear the term 'metal detecting' and automatically picture a lone guy walking up and down the beach, a device in his hand, looking somewhat eccentric but as fans of metal detecting will tell you, there's much more to it and it's a surprisingly addictive hobby. There are even metal detecting clubs and groups, where enthusiasts can get together and share ideas or deliver news of their finds.


Alexander Graham Bell

The first metal detector was invented by Alexander Graham Bell as a result of the US president James Garfield being shot by assassin Charles Guiteau. Bell hurriedly invented a crude metal detector to try and locate the bullet. Unfortunately, the electromagnetic device, which he called an induction balance, failed to find the bullet and the president died two months later.

In 1925, Gerhard Fischar, founder of the Fisher Research Laboratory, invented the first portable metal detector, which became available commercially in 1931. This led to the first mass production of metal detectors. Dr Fischar fell across the invention quite by chance, after he was commissioned by the Western Air Express and the Federal Telegraph Company as a research engineer to create airborne direction-finding equipment.

During his development of the equipment, he found some strange errors kept occurring and in solving these problems, he applied his solution to the unrelated field of metal and mineral detection.

How it works

A metal detector is an electronic instrument which is able to detect the presence of metal that can be hidden in objects or buried underground. The handheld unit includes a sensor probe that is swept over the ground, giving off a tone or moving a needle on an indicator if metal is present. The device indicates the proximity of the metal by giving off a higher tone the nearer it is.

Best locations

If you've decided to take up this fascinating hobby and you’ve bought a metal detector, the next step is to establish the best places to hunt for buried treasure. Generally speaking, the most popular sites include the beach, parks and commons, fields, gardens, woods, footpaths and church grounds.

Metal Detectors

If you are serious about the hobby, it's also possible to search online to look for old sites throughout the UK which are popular among metal detector enthusiasts. Check out old maps, local history books, old newspapers or specific treasure guides. If you're planning to search on private land, it's important that you seek the relevant permission before you start.

Best finds

Many items can be found with a metal detector such as coins, jewellery, gold nuggets and even ancient relics of historic civilisations. The majority of people won't make their fortune from metal detecting but you are sure to have a lot of fun and you might find some interesting items along the way.

For the lucky few, metal detecting has unearthed lucky finds that are worth a lot of money. In 2012, the biggest haul ever found of Celtic coins - valued at £10 million - was unearthed under a hedge on farmland in Grouville, in the Channel Islands. The 50,000 silver coins weighed three-quarters of a ton and it was believed they had been hidden more than 2,000 years ago from Roman troops by the Coriosolitae people of Brittany in France.

Metal detecting enthusiasts had been searching the land for 30 years after hearing rumours of buried treasure but it was grandad Reg Mead and customs officer Richard Miles who finally found the haul. They contacted professional archaeologists to help with the dig.

Unfortunately, it's not always a case of 'finders keepers' - the Crown claimed ownership of the coins following a court ruling and they were taken to Jersey Heritage Centre to go on display.

In 2010, James Hyatt found a rare and valuable gold locket valued at £2.5 million on his first attempt at metal detecting in Hockley, Essex. He split the profit with the landowner. In 2009, Terry Herbert unearthed £1 million worth of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver near Burntwood, Staffordshire, including coins, weapons and helmet decorations. The profits were divided with the landowner.

Portable Antiquities Scheme

The Portable Antiquities Scheme, funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, encourages treasure hunters to record findings of any archaeological objects. The body was set up as a result of the Treasure Act 1996, covering England, Northern Ireland and Wales. In the 21 years since the Act became statute, public museums have acquired thousands of archaeological items.

If you're a fan of metal detecting, it's important that you have the appropriate storage solution for your equipment and any items you may find. Solent Plastics’ range of waterproof storage solutions are suitable for carrying not only electronic equipment such as a metal detector but also your haul of items. Please don't hesitate to contact us for further information on any of our products. Happy hunting!