Where can I go metal detecting?
In this guide we will explain the best places to go metal detecting in England and the UK.
This doesn’t mean you should just grab your metal detector and visit some of these places, you’re going to need to make sure you get permission from the owner of the land first.
Remember all land is owned by someone and apart from some beaches, you’re going to need permission wherever you go.
Metal detecting on land you do not have permission to be on is trespassing and can land you in some very hot water with the law.
The beach is the only place you can go with your metal detector that doesn’t require permission or a permit.
That being said you can’t go metal detecting on all beaches, you can only metal detect on “Crown owned beaches”
Just a few years ago you would have still needed to download the permit from the Crown website, however this was discontinued. Meaning you can now go on crown beaches without a permit.
If you’re struggling for landowners permission and you’re desperate to get out there with your metal detector then the beach is about your only choice in the UK as you can head out there today – Here’s the map of Crown Estate beaches.
Beach detecting is not for everyone down to a few things really;
Some metal detectors just don’t like wet sand and will give of false signals.
You’re going to be finding mainly modern finds such a modern coinage, historic finds are few and far between at the beach.
There’s a hell of a lot of trash to be found on beaches especially if you’re in an area that attracts a lot of tourists and dog walkers.
It’s not as relaxing and peaceful as metal detecting usually is, especially if you are going at peak times. Expect to get a lot of attention.
Can you tell I’m not a fan of beach detecting yet? Although I did know of one man who could make money metal detecting on tourist beaches in Spain!
That being said though people have been known to find jewellery and lots of coins, so if you have no where to go then the beach is a way of getting out.
If you’ve got a cheaper metal detector, more specifically one that hasn’t been designed to perform well at a beach then stay in the dry sand, unless you want to be digging a 10 foot hole with nothing to be found at the bottom.
Oh and get yourself a sand scoop, it will save you lots of time and frustration.
Metal detecting on pasture or meadow fields has proven to perhaps be in the top 2 best places to metal detect in the UK for me.
Some of my most interesting and best finds have come from pasture/meadow land.
Not only is it a great place for metal detecting because of the potential of finding more exciting artefacts, it’s in my opinion much easier to dig and recover targets.
You can dig a tidy plug through the sod, locate your target and pop the plug back in.
There’s many pasture and meadow fields throughout the UK some being used for horses and some not being used at all, some owned by farmers and some by homeowners.
If you see one on your travels, close to a property, I’d highly recommend pulling in and asking for permission or who owns it.
I’ve had a high success rate in the past doing this and again some of my best and most interesting finds have been on pasture land.
Another fantastic place for metal detecting in the UK is on a ploughed field.
Each year the fields are ploughed by the farmers and new things are brought up, almost like a new field each year.
The only bad thing about ploughed fields is sometimes the items you dig up have been damaged and clipped by the plough.
If the field hasn’t been seeded and isn’t in use at the time, then you’ve got a much better chance of getting permission to metal detect on it.
I’d say over the years most hoards of coins and the majority of notable historic finds have been found on ploughed fields.
Hard to get permission but one of the best places to metal detect.
Ridge & Furrow Fields
Ridge and furrow was a medieval form of farming, so even without any research you know that it has some history.
You can easily locate ridge & furrow fields by using the satellite view on Google Maps.
I’ve had some great metal detecting finds from ridge & furrow fields, the only thing negative I have to say is usually things are quite deep, so you’re going to be digging deep holes and you’ll need a big coil!
This is because of how deep they ploughed using the ridge & furrow farming system.
Another good place to metal detect would be in woodland.
That being said prepare for some mighty hard digging. Especially with all of them roots.
Make sure you go prepared with the right digging tools.
Woods usually have seen lots of traffic over the years with camping, picnics, dog walkers, adventurers etc
If you’re lucky enough to have permission to detect in ancient woodlands then you’ll increase your chances of more interesting finds, with these woods seeing camps, hunting action and more for hundreds of years.
I had permission to metal detect in a small woodland area near where I live and was lucky enough to find some really interesting roman coins and artefacts including a fibula broach.
Yup! Gardens. Why not? Even better if you live in a really old house.
Over the years people have played and sat in the garden, things get dropped and lost.
If you’re just starting out I’d recommend trying your metal detector in your garden.
Firstly you don’t need permission and you can use it straight away and secondly it will give you time to learn more about your metal detector.
I often do testing in my garden, burying different items and listening to the tones and analysing the digital display numbers, this helps me when out in the field to dig less junk.
Near Old Churches
I’ve had a few permissions over the years on fields that are near old churches.
Potentially a great place to go metal detecting in the UK due to the amount of traffic they’ve had over the years and often churches are very old.
It’s going to be highly unlikely that you’ll get permission to metal detect in the actual grounds of the church itself, however I have been lucky enough to get permissions that are a stones throw away.
Do your research before visiting, check the old maps for old pathways etc
Common land/Council Land/Parks
Please bare in mind that regardless of what you may presume or have heard, you will still need permission to go metal detecting on common land.
We’ve spoke about common land in the UK in more depth here.
Local commons have seen lots of action over the years, the one near where I live has been used for fairs, was used by the army for training purposes many moons ago and is often used for picnics, dog walking and other events.
So there’s been lots of action, which equals lots of finds!
Council land is a pretty grey area, some councils allow metal detecting and some do not. So its worth asking your local councils first to see if they allow metal detecting.
Event & Festival Land
Some fields have been used for festivals, fates, fairs and other events.
These events bring lots of people and lots of people equals lots of lost property.
The only downside about this type of fields is they often are quite trashy and you’ll spend a lot of time digging up litter.
So if you know of a field that has been used for events then it’s definitely worth asking for permission.
If you struggle to find land to metal detect on then an ideas is to join a club or attend organised club digs.
There are many metal detecting clubs throughout the UK and they often charge a small fee for a day out metal detecting.
The great thing about club digs is the land permission has already been acquired and its a great chance to meet some like minded people.
Some of these people that attend the clubs may have their own permissions, you could ask them if you could tag along?
Its been known also with some metal detecting clubs who have acquired permission in your locality for them to even put a good word in with the landowner/farmer for you after the dig, allowing you to go back on the same land after.
When doing your land research for metal detecting you should always check the old maps to see if there were ever any public footpaths and right of ways.
These footpaths over the years have had many people walk them and will increase the chance of you making a find.
I’ve had much success when I’ve found an old footpath on the land permission I’m on finding lots of coins and other relics along them.
If the footpath is still in use today, you should be extra careful to make sure you fill your holes correctly so you don’t cause a tripping hazard for the public.
Don’t think though just because it says the word public that you are free to metal detect there without permission because you’re not. You will still always need permission from the landowner.