For several decades now, the phenomenon has grown significantly in popularity, and increasing media attention is likely to enhance the current ‘metal detector boom’ in the future. The implications of this development are manifold and entail both potentials and challenges for cultural heritage management and participatory approaches within archaeology.
Metal-detecting and its relationship to archaeological heritage is a complex theme. On the one hand, illicit or irresponsible detecting poses a severe threat to the archaeological heritage, resulting in the undocumented plundering of archaeological sites, as well as the loss of important contextual information for finds; many of these are retrieved only to be included in closed private collections or to be traded on the international antiquities market. On the other hand, responsible and responsive detecting leads to the identification and understanding of important archaeological finds and sites, which otherwise are in danger of damage or irreversible destruction by modern industrial farming machinery and chemicals used on the land, or through natural erosion.
Metal-detecting therefore contributes positively to the protection of cultural heritage resources and to the generation of new knowledge. In addition, where permitted, the practice is a legitimate arena for public interaction with cultural heritage, and a potential catalyst for the democratization of heritage management along the lines of citizen science and crowdsourcing.
This workshop series discuss these themes through papers presented by citizen scientists, heritage professionals and researchers working on the field. It has been organised in association with the European Public Finds Recording Network