Searching for answers: A survey of metal-detector users in the UK
Thomas, S. (2012), ‘Searching for answers: A survey of metal-detector users in the UK’, International Journal of Heritage Studies 18 (1), 49-64.
The relationships between archaeologists and metal-detector users are often more complex than is realised, partly because little has been published to date on the dynamics that exist, though there is more about the artefactual information that has been gleaned through these relationships (see e.g. www.finds.org.uk/database). It is crucial to understand the drivers behind metal-detector users’ activities, if archaeologists are to be able to communicate and interact meaningfully with this significant community concerning the treatment of archaeological heritage. Attendance at a selection of some of the most controversial of metal-detecting events in England, metal-detecting rallies, proved an important opportunity to access a large number of metal-detector users, and a chance to carry out a survey that focused on the metal-detector users themselves, rather than the archaeology or their impact on it. The ways in which rallies in England and Wales are conducted are the subject of continued debate between different organisations, with the Council for British Archaeology, for example, planning a guidance note for the promotion of archaeologically good practice. However, this paper focuses more on individual metal-detector users who go to such rallies, and what they can tell us about the opinions and drivers of metal-detector users in the UK in contemporary times.