Metal Detecting guidance


Best Practice

It is best practice to detect on ploughed land, as objects have already been removed from their original archaeological context. Removing objects from below the plough soil or from non-ploughed land can damage the underlying archaeology.

You must obtain permission from the landowner before using a metal detector anywhere. This includes land which is publicly accessible, such as beaches, footpaths, or council-owned land. The Crown Estate owns much of the coastal foreshore and issues permits for metal detecting.

Using a handheld GPS device is the best way to record the exact position of where you find individual objects.

If you find anything fragile, complex or below the plough soil, such as hoard, please contact us for advice before proceeding further.

Call 01284 741230 or email

It is best practice to record all of your finds with your local Finds Recording Officer so that the information is available for the future. Find out about the recording process here.

How do I look after my finds?

Metal objects can be gently cleaned with water to remove loose soil and then should be kept as dry as possible. Avoid cleaning the surface too vigorously or using corrosive substances, as this can damage the object in the long term.

Pottery and flint can be gently washed in water.


Code of Practice

the National Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting offers more detailed information and advice

Download (PDF) »

Conservation Guide

the Portable Antiquities Conservation Guide contains more advice on how to properly care for your finds

Download (PDF) »
collection or metalwork

Metal Detecting Clubs

in Suffolk

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four people detecting in a ploughed field

Metal Detecting Rallies

advice to organisers

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view across fields in suffolk

Guidance for Landowners

information and advice

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