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The hobby of metal detecting is now firmly established in Britain, the USA, Australia and many European countries. The many thousands of metal detectorists who enjoy this fascinating hobby reap benefits in a variety of ways; relaxation away from the pressures of work or domestic life, fresh air and exercise, and making new friends and meeting other enthusiasts. But these are common to many other hobbies and there are more particular benefits which set metal detecting apart; the gain of knowledge about the past, the excitement and pleasure one feels when handling objects which haven't seen light for years, and of cause the coins and artefacts recovered. Initially, the newcomer to the hobby is happy to find anything other than silver paper, ring pulls and soft drink cans. This is all I found when I first started and that is what most find when entering the hobby. A Victorian Penny or a button was a great thrill to find, and a pocketful of modern coinage was even better because I could spend it. I remember when I first found a button in a field. Such a small find put me into deep thought. How did it get there? Is there an old footpath running across the field and many other such questions popped into my head. This is how many newcomers to the hobby think and soon they become a serious detectorist if they have the patience to do so.
Nowadays, metal detectors are hi-tec electronic machines with a variety of capabilities dependant on price. Most are 'user-friendly' being relatively simple to operate and most now have the ability to discriminate against certain metals. Prices range from one hundred pounds to close on a 1000 pounds for a top-of-the-range model. However, on some sites the cheaper detectors will out shine the expensive detectors. For instance if a site is highly iron contaminated, I find that my Viking 5 gives more depth then my CS5MX and many others will probably find this to. I believe that weather you join a club when you first start detecting is up to you. When I started the hobby I had no intention of joining a club and I still don't really. However, some may find it useful because they can then learn from experienced uses of detectors.
The hobby is suitable for all ages, from the very young to the very old. The hobby is actually quite healthy for the body because it gets you out in the air and gives you exercise through walking and digging.
In the UK permission should be gained to search on all land except that provided by local councils for public recreation i.e. parks and such open spaces. Beaches are usually free to search unless it is one of the few privately-owned beaches. However, in some areas such council land is out of bounds. If you are unsure about a piece of land near you, the best thing you can do is check. If someone tells you can't detect on council land, but you now for a fact that no such restrictions apply, I say ignore them! If you wish to search on farmland then the farmer or landowner should be sought out and permission to search requested from him/her.
It is quite usual that when a user first goes out with a metal detector he or she will return with masses of SCRAP! The reason for this is quite simple... the machine makes the slightest beep and the user digs without having the experience of knowing what the beep is telling him/her. Consequently the first time user ends up digging everything, thereby finding mostly scrap.
Speaking from experience I found that after a couple of trips out with my first metal detector, I begin to associate various sounds and meter readings with items of scrap and consequently I dug up less scrap. What else can be found depends primarily on what type of ground is being searched. Parkland will produce mostly modern coinage and artefacts, beaches the same with a chance of a piece of jewellery. Farmland is likely to be either the most barren area or the most interesting, it depends what use the field has seen. A field that has seen little use will produce little if anything, whereas a field may have had a medieval settlement on it will produce thousands of coins and plenty of artefacts. However, a wonderful and interesting find can pop up anywhere as I have found!
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR RESPONSIBLE METAL DETECTOR USERS
1) Do not trespass. Ask permission before venturing on to any private land.
2) Respect the Country Code. Do not leave gates open when crossing fields, and do not damage crops or frighten animals.
3) Do not leave a mess. It is perfectly simple to extract a coin or other small objects buried a few inches under the ground without digging a great hole. Use a sharpened trowel to cut a neat flap do not remove the plug of earth entirely from the ground, extract the object; replace the soil and grass carefully and even you will have difficulty in finding the spot again.
4) Help to keep Britain tidy - and help yourself. Bottle tops, silver paper and tin cans are the last things you should throw away. You could well be digging them up again next year. Do yourself and the community a favour by taking the rusty iron and junk you find to the nearest litterbin.
5) If you discover any live ammunition or any lethal object such as an unexploded bomb or mine, do not touch it. Mark the site carefully and report the find to the local police and landowner.
6) Report all unusual historical finds to the landowner.
7) Familiarise yourself with the law relating to archaeological sites. Remember it is illegal for anyone to use a metal detector on a scheduled ancient monument unless permission has been obtained from the Secretary of State for the Environment. Also acquaint yourself with the practice of Treasure Trove.
8) Remember that when you are out with your metal detector, you are an ambassador for our hobby. Do nothing that may give it a bad name.
9) Never miss an opportunity to show and explain your detector to anyone who asks about it. Be friendly, you could pick up some useful clues to another site. If you meet another detector user, introduce yourself. You may learn much about the hobby from each other.
Remember if you don't look, you won't find!