Metal detecting is probably the most popular and accessible type of archaeological activity. Many individuals own metal detectors, which can be bought cheaply or made from kits. Many archaeologists also make use of metal detectors – they are a very useful addition to the range of site equipment available. There is a great deal of controversy surrounding metal detecting – it is seen by some archaeologists as ‘treasure hunting’ rather than research, but there are many examples of archaeologists and metal detectorists co-operating very productively.
Most metal detectorists are responsible people with a deep interest in the past and many belong to clubs. Archaeologists have built up a good working relationship with clubs, particularly the Finds Liaison Officers in the national Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), who work regionally and encourage the reporting and accurate recording of finds and find spots. Through initiatives like the PAS, thousands of finds have been recorded which otherwise may have been lost to archaeological research. Archaeologists have been able to respond positively to discoveries and mount investigative fieldwork at find-spots, which often produces extremely important new evidence. Legitimate metal detectorists are therefore becoming an integral part of the archaeological community