A Piece of History for Christmas

As Christmas is getting close, a lot of people are stressing over what to get for their friends and family. Many are tired of wrapping the same box of chocolates for the seventh year in a row. The socks from last year are still unused. This year movie tickets are also out of the question because of the current pandemic situation.

The closer Christmas gets, the more I start to think of what to give to my family, and more importantly why. When giving a present my goal is to give something that is useful for the receiver, and it is even better if the gift helps the receiver to develop themselves. Often this leads to a situation where the receiver seems to be wondering what they are supposed to use the gift for. It would be nice if the gift was something that receiver would enjoy and find useful at the same time. Last Christmas I was able to give such a gift for a family member.

I am an archaeologist and sometimes it has been difficult for my family to understand what I do from nine to five. I have showed them movies related to archaeology, introduced them to variety of games and I have even given toy excavation kits  for my younger siblings. But none of these has been as successful as the metal detector  that I gave for my father last year. The metal detector inspired the whole family to go into the forest together!

Photo description ©JK

Allowed as a hobby, but know your limits

Unlike in some other countries, using a metal detector is legal in Finland. But even in Finland there are some limitations to metal detecting. These limitations are based on Everyman’s rights, conduct rules and on the Antiquities Act. This means that archaeological sites that are listed in the registry of ancient sites are off limits. But this also means that you are not allowed to use the detector on your neighbor’s property. These rules also apply to environments under water. Breaking these rules and laws will result in getting a fine.

Not only is metal detecting legal in Finland, but it is quite a popular hobby. Non-professional archaeologists are eager to share their knowledge and know-how to others on multiple platforms on the Internet and social media. There are variety of informational meetings for prospective metal detector hobbyists. There are also some websites that someone who is just starting to explore metal detecting should look at. One of these is the website of the Finnish association for people who do metal detecting as a hobby. Finnish Heritage Agency has published a guide for metal detecting that can be read online and they also have a site for those who wish to pursue archaeology as a hobby.

Shared and responsible expertise

The professionals have a very open-minded attitude towards the metal detecting community, which can be one of the reasons why it is such a popular hobby in Finland. The gap between professionals and non-professionals is very small because of mutual trust. In order to this good relationship to keep thriving, it is necessary that the non-professional archaeologists are familiar with their responsibilities. If an object that seems to be over 100 years old is found, the guidelines of the Finnish Heritage Agency must be followed. In addition to collecting the item and making a note where the item was found, it is important to avoid digging more in the finding area. After Heritage Agency’s evaluation, further investigations of the area can be continued. There are multiple ways to inform the Heritage Agency about findings, such as the reporting service Ilppari  or just by sending an email to the address metallinilmaisin (a) museovirasto.fi. Soon it will also be possible the share the findings on The Finnish Archaeological Finds Recording Linked Open Database (SuALT) Löytösampo.


Photo description ©JK

If you enjoy being in the outdoors with your family, maybe it is time to update your Christmas wish list by adding a metal detector. It is a hobby than can be continued even if the Covid-19 situation does not improve in the near future.

With this post ANEE wishes happy holidays to everyone!