Metal detecting can be a great and rewarding experience if done correctly. There have been real-life treasure seekers from all over the world who have found valuables of over 1 million dollars in just the last few years.
If you happen to get lucky and find metals or other materials that are actually worth something, you could end up going from rags to riches in just a few days. However, before you start on your treasure hunting expedition, it is important to understand how the law handles the process of metal detecting and the actual treasure that is found.
Where Can You Go On Your Metal Detecting Expedition?
If you intend on doing any treasure hunting on a piece of land that belongs to someone else, whether it’s an outside garden, beach, or public park, this will mean that you first need to get that person’s permission in order to start on your small venture. Failure to get permission from the landowner may see you getting charged with trespassing property and in the process, may also cause you to lose any treasure that you may have found.
Public places such as the beach may seem like a good place to start metal detecting without any need of asking for permission but this is not the case as the beach normally falls under the jurisdiction of the Crown Estate and you’ll need to apply for a search permit in order to start metal detecting legally. Additionally, some local councils have different rules concerning metal detecting, with some requiring you to seek permission first, while others have a strict ‘no metal detecting’ policy.
Understanding How Treasure is Defined by the Law.
The Treasure Act 1996 defines treasure as the following:
1. Any group of two or more metal objects made of any materials or of any prehistoric origins that originate from the same findings.
2. Two or more coins that originate from the same findings as long as they are 300 years old or more when found and have 10 percent silver or gold in them and if the percentage of silver or gold is less than 10 percent, there must be at least ten of them. The only groups of coins that would be regarded as having originated from the same findings include small groups of coins such as wallet contents that may have been dropped, ritual or votive deposits, and any hoards that may have been hidden deliberately by someone else.
3. Any metallic object that is not a coin as long as at least 10 percent of it is silver or gold and that it is 300 years old or more when found. Additionally, if it is a precious metal of prehistoric origins, it is defined as treasure.
4. Any type of object found in the same place as another object that has been categorized as treasure.
Declaring Found Treasure
Reading reports of people finding valuable treasures worth millions of dollars may greatly inspire you to start your own metal detecting expedition. However, if you do happen to get lucky and find something valuable on your expedition and end up declaring found treasure, you’ll soon learn that there are a number of laws that will affect the actual amount that you will receive at the end of it all. Most people will normally receive half of what the entire haul amounts to unless the land they did the metal detecting on is theirs as well. This is because the proceeds of any findings are split 50/50 between the finder and the landowner.
The introduction of the Treasure Act in 1996 has also made the laws that govern metal detector findings even more complicated. The act states that any treasure found must be reported to the local coroner within 14 days of the find. Failure to do so could lead to forfeiture of any right to a reward for finding treasure if it hasn’t been properly declared and reported. Additionally, in the case of treasures that haven’t been declared, they could also lead to being fined, significant reward reduction, or even imprisonment.
On the other hand, declaring found treasure may cause you to lose your findings in the hands of corrupt government officials or make them list the location of your findings in a public directory which would obviously send hundreds of other treasure hunters in the direction of where made your findings. I guess in the end it would be up to you to make the choice that feels right by you. However, you should also consider the fact that if you don’t report the findings, whatever you sell will most likely end up being traced back to you especially if it is of great value. Also, if you don’t have a reliable professional to value your findings for you, there is a good chance you’ll end up selling it for much less than its actual value.
What if Your Findings Do Not Fall Under the Classification of ‘Treasure’?
Anything that does not fall under the classification of treasure will be left up to the finder to decide what to do with it. You can donate to a museum or sell items that seem valuable to a private dealer. The earnings from the sales will then be distributed as agreed upon between the finder and the landowner.Should metal detectors for children be different than metal detectors for adults?