Battlefields Trust metal detecting survey at Stow on the Wold

Grant to Help Set-Up New Body to Support Metal Detectorists

17 July 2020

A £50,000 grant from Historic England is a step forward towards the setting up of a new organisation to support and train metal detectorists in the UK.

Working with archaeologists and others in the heritage sector, the ‘Institute of  Detectorists’ aims to provide training opportunities to promote responsible metal detecting and examine how metal detecting has been beneficial in the investigation of archaeological sites and landscapes.

The project will explore how best to develop such an institute and help to establish an agenda for best practice as well as determining how this can be taught as part of a national training programme. It will also support voluntary self-regulation and provide a platform for detectorists to demonstrate their competence and skills to others.

Keith Westcott, the Oxfordshire metal detectorist who is behind the project, has 25 years experience of metal detecting and is passionate about ensuring that the archaeological value of metal detecting is fully realised. In 2019, Keith won the Archaeological Training Forum Award for creating the first ever course focused on skills development for metal detectorists.

Keith said 'the aim of this project is to establish a not-for-profit research and educational body for detectorists. This body would promote responsible metal detecting as a technique that contributes to the understanding, conservation and protection of the historic environment.'

Barney Sloane, National Specialist Services Director at Historic England, added 'this project provides an opportunity to build on an increasingly positive relationship between the responsible metal detecting community, archaeologists and other heritage organisations. The proposed institute could prove to be of great benefit for portable antiquities, archaeology and the wider public. This new body aims to train people in best practice in metal detecting and we applaud that.'  

A Project Advisory Board, which the Battlefields Trust is a member of, has been a established and a focus group will be set up to help steer the development of the Institute and the feasibility study also has the support of national bodies such as the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Council for British Archaeology, Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

The detecting community will be consulted on a business plan which outlines the role of the Institute, the membership structure and the framework for the training programme which will be focused on heritage and conservation.

The Battlefields Resource Centre