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Author: Neil Oliver

History How-to videos: Metal detection

Updated Wednesday, 14th February 2018
What are the attractions of metal detection to the historian?

On the History Detectives, we get sent a lot of very different things. Every single one of them has a story to tell. Many, like the seal, are sent in by metal detectorists.

There are thirty thousand or so of those enthusiasts up and down the country, and you’ll have seen them on the beach looking for lost coins and the like, but for the most part they do their detecting inland on farmers’ fields. There are thousands of clubs and most of them are out every weekend, so what’s the attraction?

When I left school I had absolutely no interest in history and through the hobby of metal detecting, I started reading local history books, looking up old maps, researching different types of artefacts and coins that I found, so that gave me an interest in history that started growing in me over the years. When you go on a new site that you know has got a good bit of history there is a good bit of excitement there and you’re envisaging, you’re actually trying to look under the soil. In your brain, you envisage all these different artefacts and coins that’s there.

I’ve found bronze age axe heads, Neolithic axe heads, Roman coins, hammered silver coins from the medieval times. My best find is my gold medieval wedding brooch. It was a special find because it was personal, that was made specifically for a certain person and that’s what made it special. The more we can get out of the soil and into museum display cases then the better for us, for the public, because it’s then they can actually see and feel and touch.


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