Topical Issue on Aspects of Non-professional Metal Detecting in Europe, Open Archaeology, 2016. (scroll down for papers)

A collection of papers authored and edited by Network participants, with contributions by others, providing a good overview of approaches and attitudes to avocational metal-detecting across Europe, liberal as well as restrictive. The papers are the outcome of sessions at the European Association of Archaeology conferences in Istanbul, 2014, and Glasgow, 2015. 


The Complexities of Metal Detecting Policy and Practice: A Response to Samuel Hardy, 'Quantitative Analysis of Open-Source Data on Metal Detecting for Cultural Property' (Cogent Social Sciences 3, 2017), Open Archaeology, 2018.

A collective response to a paper challenging our philosophy that a collaborative approach to non-professional detecting can, on balance, be beneficial to heritage management and scientific knowledge. While we laud the data-based, quantitative approach, we highlight factual and methodological problems and contend that the study is grounded in biased and overly simplified assumptions.


Towards a Cooperative Approach to Hobby Metal Detecting: The European Public Finds Recording Network (EPFRN) Vision Statement, European Journal of Archaeology 23, 2020.

In this paper, we present the Vision and Aims of the European Public Finds Recording Network. We explain why we believe that fostering collaborations between responsible detector users and archaeologists is a more fruitful approach than restricting such public participation. The benefits, we argue, are situated on multiple levels, from science over heritage management to society at large, and archaeology's role therein. [download the manuscript here]


Dobat, A.S., Wood, S.O., Jensen, B.S., Schmidt, S. & A.S. Dobat. 2020“I now look forward to the future, by finding things from our past..." Exploring the potential of metal detector archaeology as a source of well-being and happiness. International Journal of Heritage Studies 26(4):  370-386.

Thomas, S. & Pitblado, B. L., 2020. The Dangers of Conflating Responsible and Responsive Artefact Stewardship with Illicit and Illegal Collecting. Antiquity 94(376): 1060-1067. DOI:

Deckers, P. 2020. Archaeology's Awkward Allies. Antiquity 94(376): 1068-1070. DOI:

Pitblado, B. L., and Thomas, S. 2020. Unravelling the Spectra of Stewards and Collectors. Antiquity 94(376): 1077-1079. DOI:


Deckers, P., 2019. Archaeological Metal Detecting by Amateurs in Flanders: Legislation, Policy and Practice of a Hobby, in: Campbell, S., White, L., Thomas, S. (Eds.), Competing Values in Archaeological Heritage. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp. 103–123.

Dobat, A.S., Trier Christiansen, T., Jensen, P., Henriksen, M.B., Holst, M.K., Ruhe, R., Jessen, M.D. & Laursen, S.V. 2019. The DIME project: Background, status and future perspectives of the user driven recording scheme for metal detector finds. Danish Journal of Archaeology 8, 1-15.

Thomas, S., Wessman, A., Tuominen, J., Koho, M., Ikkala, E., Hyvönen, E., Rohiola, V.,& U. Salmela. 2019 SuALT: Collaborative Research Infrastructure for Archaeological Finds and Public Engagement through Linked Open Data. Poster presented at Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries - Copenhagen, Denmark, 5-8 March 2019.

Wessman, A., Thomas, S., & V. Rohiola. 2019. Digital Archaeology and Citizen Science: Introducing the goals of FindSampo and the SuALT project. SKAS 2019(1).

Wessman, A., Thomas, S., Rohiola, V., Koho, M., Ikkala, E., Tuominen, J., Hyvönen, E., Kuitunen, J., Parviainen, H., & M Niukkanen. 2019. Citizen Science in Archaeology: Developing a Collaborative Web Service for Archaeological Finds in Finland, in: Jameson, J., & S. Musteață (Eds.), Transforming Heritage Practice in the 21st Century : Contributions from Community Archaeology. Cham: Springer International Publishing. pp. 337-352.

Wessman, A., Thomas, S., Rohiola, V., Kuitunen, J., Ikkala, E., Tuominen, J., Koho, M., & E. Hyvönen. 2019. A Citizen Science Approach to Archaeology: Finnish Archaeological Finds Recording Linked Open Database (SuALT), in: Navaretta, C., Agirrezabal, M., & B. Maegaard (Eds.), Proceedings of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 4th Conference : Copenhagen, Denmark, March 5-8, 2019, Aachen: CEUR Workshop Proceedings. pp. 469-478.


s.n., 2018. The Portable Antiquities Scheme Annual Report 2017. British Museum, London.

Kars, M. & Heeren, S. 2018. Archaeological small finds recording in the Netherlands. The Framework and some preliminary results of the project Portable Antiquities of the Netherlands (PAN), Medieval Settlement Research vol. 33, 18-27.

Pitblado, B., Shott, M., Brosowske, S., Butler, V., Cox, J., Espenshade, C., Neller, A., Peebles, G., Sanchez, G., Shipley, R., Suarez, R., & S. Thomas. 2018. Process and Outcomes of the SAA “Professional Archaeologists, Avocational Archaeologists, and Responsible Artifact Collectors Relationships Task Force” (2015–2018). The SAA Archaeological Record 18(5): 14-17.

Thomas. S. 2018. Responsible Metal Detecting, in: Lopez Varela, S., & G. Fairclough (Eds.), The SAS Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences. Wiley.


Bland, R., Lewis, M., Pett, D., Richardson, I., Robbins, K. & R. Webley. 2017. The Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme in England and Wales, in: Moshenska , G. (Ed.), Key Concepts in Public Archaeology. London: UCL Press, pp. 107-121.

Thomas, S. 2017. Negative Experiences in Television Programming: A View from the Other Side. Archaeologies 12(3): 243-263.


Deckers, P., Bleumers, L., Ruelens, S., Lemmens, B., Vanderperren, N., Marchal, C., Pierson, J. & D. Tys 2016. MEDEA: Crowd-Sourcing the Recording of Metal-Detected Artefacts in Flanders (Belgium). Open Archaeology 2, 264–277.

Dobat, A. S. 2016: Metal Detecting in Denmark: Advantages and Disadvantages of the Liberal Model. In J. Martens, M. Ravn (Eds.), Ploughland as context - the scientific value of metal detector finds. Conference proceedings. Oslo: Kulturhistorisk Museum/Universitetet i Oslo, pp. 51-68.

Dobat, A. & Jensen, A. 2016. Professional Amateurs. Metal Detecting and Metal Detectorists in Denmark. Open Archaeology, 2(1). https://doi:10.1515/opar-2016-0005

Herva, V.-P., Koskinen-Koivisto, E., Seitsonen, O. & Thomas, S. 2016. ‘I have better stuff at home’: Treasure hunting and private collecting of World War II artefacts in Finnish Lapland, World Archaeology , 48(2): 267-281.

Hinds, K. & Lewis, M. 2016. Metal- Detecting, in: Leivers, M. & Powell, A.B. (Eds.) A Research Framework for the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site. Wessex Archaeology, p. 72.

Lewis, M., 2016. A Detectorist’s Utopia? Archaeology and Metal-Detecting in England and Wales. Open Archaeology, 2(1): 127–139.

Thomas, S. 2016. Metal Detecting in Focus Again - A Response to Immonen and Kinnunen, Winkley, Hardy, and Rogerson. Public Archaeology , 15(4): 245-248.

Thomas. S. 2016. The future of studying hobbyist metal detecting in Europe: A call for a transnational approach. Open Archaeology 2(1): 140-149.

Thomas, S., Seitsonen, O., & V.-P. Herva. 2016. Nazi memorabilia, dark heritage and treasure hunting as “alternative” tourism: Understanding the fascination with the material remains of World War II in Northern Finland. Journal of Field Archaeology 41(3), 331-343.

Selected publications before 2016

Thomas, S., Wessman, A., Siltainsuu, J. & W. Perttola. 2015 Understanding metal detecting and archaeology in Finland. Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arquelogia de la Universidad de Granada 25, 187-199.

Thomas, S. 2015. Collaborate, Condemn, or Ignore? Responding to Non-Archaeological Approaches to Archaeological Heritage. European Journal of Archaeology 18(2): 312-335.

Thomas, S. 2014. The Portable Antiquities Scheme in England and Wales. SKAS 1(2014): 25-36.

Thomas, S. 2014. Comments on Josephine Munch Rasmussen: 'Securing Cultural Heritage Objects and Fencing Stolen Goods? A Case Study on Museums and Metal Detecting in Norway' Metal Detecting in Norway Receives Long Overdue Attention. Norwegian Archaeological Review 47(2), 196-199.

Deckers, P., 2013. Past, present and future of archaeological metal-detecting by amateurs in Flanders (Belgium). AP: Online Journal in Public Archaeology 3, 13–17.

Dobat, A.S. 2013. Between Rescue and Research: An Evaluation after 30 Years of Liberal Metal Detecting in Archaeological Research and Heritage Practice in DenmarkEuropean Journal of Archaeology, 16: 704–25.

Thomas, S. & Campbell, S. (Eds.). 2013. Portable Antiquities: Archaeology, Collecting, Metal Detecting. Special Issue, Internet Archaeology 33.

Thomas, S. 2012. How STOP started: Early approaches to the metal detecting community by archaeologists and others, in: Moshenska, G., & S. Dhanjal (Eds.), Community Archaeology : Theories, methods, practices. Oxford: Oxbow Press, pp. 42-57.

Lewis, M. 2013. The PAS – A Rather British Solution: the mandatory reporting and voluntary recording of archaeological objects in England and Wales’, in: Lagerlöf, A.S (Ed.) Who Cares? Perspectives on Public Awareness, Participation and Protecting in Archaeological Heritage Management (European Archaeological Council, Occasional Paper 8). Stockholm: Swedish National Heritage Board, pp. 17-21.

Deckers, P., 2012. Everbeek Roman Silver Hoard. Trafficking Culture Encyclopedia.

Thomas, S. 2012. Archaeologists and metal-detector users in England and Wales: Past, Present and Future, in: R. Skeates, C. McDavid & J. Carman (Eds), The Oxford Handbook of Public Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 60-81.

Thomas, S. 2012. Searching for answers: a survey of metal-detector users in the UK. International Journal of Heritage Studies 18(1): 49-64.

Thomas, S. 2009. Wanborough Revisited: The Rights and Wrongs of Treasure Trove Law in England and Wales, in: Thomas, S. & P. G. Stone (Eds.), Metal Detecting and Archaeology. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, pp. 153-165.

Thomas, S. 2009. Introduction, in: Thomas, S. & P. G. Stone (Eds.), Metal Detecting and Archaeology. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, pp. 1-11.