The best tools and useful links for Metal Detecting

So you have your first permission (you do actually have permission right?) and you’re wondering what to do next. Below are many useful links and tools to help you with your Metal Detecting Hobby and hopefully increase your chances of finding interesting artefacts. 


Before you even attempt to begin Metal Detecting anywhere (except on your own land of course), you MUST get permission from the landowner first. In some instances, a Farmer may only be a Tennent and doesn’t actually own the field or land you may have been told you can detect. Be very careful and if in doubt check and check again, getting your permission in writing if necessary. You don’t want to fall foul of the law and face a fine, have your equipment confiscated or worse, prison. So, never, ever be tempted to detect on or close to ancient monuments or scheduled sites, it is 100% illegal.

Which of these links should I start using first?

By using a combination of any of the following links, you can increase your chances of finding historical artefacts and coins.

Instead of just wandering aimlessly around a field, check first for old footpaths, buildings, hedgerows, anything where people may have walked before you go.

In some cases, you might be able to utilise LIDAR (which stands for “Light Detection and Ranging”) which helps outline markings on the ground such as old buildings, through vegetation and otherwise missed from field walking alone.

You might also want to try looking at old maps of the location you plan to detect to see if there were any footpaths or buildings that are no longer visible. Even Google Earth can help provide greater detail with an aerial view of your location before you arrive, plus the added ability to go back in time and see the same location through its database of historic aerial images.

This ‘time-machine’ can be especially useful to look back on a location through different periods of time, for example a dry summer which when the grass dies back can reveal all sorts of outlines previosuly hidden from view. Many previosuly unknown ancient sites have been discovered this way.

Old Maps Online can be a very useful resource but only offers a limited view of certain locations. Side by Side Maps provide yet more additional insight into a location. You’ll probably be surprised that more people don’t already utilise these resources everytime they detect! But often they don’t and anything that can increase your finds rate, has to be worth a little of your time – right?

PastScape can also provide a very insightful look into the record of historical data already available. Its very useful to double check a location isn’t protected or listed status which might prevent you going anywhere near it. Always check first – better safe than sorry.

Everyone knows Google Maps, but its invaluable when searching for permissions and possible targets to hunt.

A great application to allow you not only locate targets, but also to view the land back in time during different periods.

A great system which allows you to locate land and split your screen with a LIDAR overlay to show hidden anomalies.

Historical Map Archive with a limited view available free to browse online

Side-by-side view of old maps next to their modern equivalents.

Run by the British Museum to encourage the recording of archaeological objects

Over 420,000 records held in the National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE). Lidar Lab online with 3d visualisation in your browser.

The largest online newspaper archive of 12,100+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s

Bristol City Council local maps both old and new side-by-side.

Catalogue of collections held at Somerset Heritage Centre and Bath Record Office.

History of Britain:
Timeline and Facts

UK coins by size and material.

Identify Roman Coins online.

Identifying British Coins.

Open Data Lidar Mapping including ancient monuments and battlefield listings.

Open Source Lidar data sets

Open Source Mapping Software for reading Lidar data sets

Locate Map positions from a grid reference, postcode, longitude, latitude even What Three Words

Want to detect on a beach? Most are owned by the Crown Estate foreshore (defined as the land between mean high water and mean low water) but you must comply with their Terms & Conditions. The Pink areas are where its permitted.

Online tool that displays archaeology that has been identified, mapped and recorded using aerial photographs and other aerial sources across England.

Be very careful to check that you do not go on or too close to any land that is scheduled, owned by Historic England or the National Trust – always check first by using the National Trust Boundary map.

Explore georeference maps through a spyglass window superimposed over a modern map! From the National Library of Scotland.