Getting Permission to Detect

Where can I Metal Detect?

Let's start with where you CANNOT detect!

Whatever you read or think you know about the legality of Metal Detecting on ‘common land’, local parks or footpaths, it’s likely to be wrong. You do not have an automatic right to just detect anywhere. ALL land in England is either owned by someone or likely managed and maintained by a local authority. As an example, UK Common land is owned by a local council, privately or by the National Trust. You usually have the right to roam on it and can use it for some activities like walking or climbing but it does not give you an automatic right to detect it and dig holes!

  • Heritage Sites Metal detecting is strictly prohibited on all protected heritage sites such as Scheduled Monuments. Getting permission to detect such Scheduled Monuments from Historic England is extremely unlikely unless it is part of an archaeological investigation.
  • SSSI – Metal detecting is also not allowed on Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) without prior permission and some of the Crown Estate-owned foreshores may also be designated under separate SSSIs. To seek permission consult Natural England by calling 0300 060 3900 or emailing
  • National Trust – Metal detecting is also not allowed on any National Trust land without prior permission. Please visit their website for more information. You can also check their online boundary map to make sure you don’t venture anywhere near their land.
  • Beaches – Never assume that all UK beaches are ok to detect, some are covered by SSSIs or may be privately owned. If in doubt, check the Crown Estate-owned foreshore map to be sure. Purple areas marked on the map are owned by the Crown Estate, anything else may be privately owned or under SSSI. More information can be found here.

If you are in any way uncertain about whether the area you wish to detect might fall under one of the above categories you can check online using a free map called: MAGIC GIS.

Where CAN I legally detect

Provided you have permission from the landowner – not the Tennant – you can detect on their land. If you own your own home, you can detect in your garden – unless you rent, in which case you need permission from your landlord.

You should also be able to detect on many UK beaches. As indicated above, please check the beach is not privately owned before you do so.

You could also join a Metal Detecting Club (if you can find one with spaces!) or go along to an organised rally, where for a small fee – usually around £20 – you can detect safely and under the guidance of others.

It’s usually best to start with friends and relatives. Most people know someone who has a paddock, field, orchard, or large garden who might allow you to see what you can find.

The next stage is to learn how to dig efficient holes that leave almost no trace of you ever being there!