The Ethical Metal Detecting Association comprises a group of reputable metal detecting enthusiasts motivated by a love of history who believe that what is found in the fields is everyone's history and who therefore keep to strict ethical guidelines in order that both the way they conduct themselves and every find they make benefits everyone.


We believe metal detecting should be about an interest in history alone, not money. We also recognise that other than the ones that belong to the Crown finds belong legally to the landowner and the historical knowledge to be gained from them belongs morally to society so failing to keep the landowner properly informed or failing to deliver the knowledge to society or selling finds are all inconsistent with an ethical approach. Accordingly, our Members make the following pledges to landowners:
  1. Members will give a signed copy of this document to the landowner so that he/she is fully informed about the way we will act if given permission to detect on the land.

  2. Members will also present their EMDA photo card, a current PL insurance certificate, personal ID documents and contact details for PAS and the Local Archaeology Service and will encourage landowners to make independent enquiries about themselves and whether detecting on the land is appropriate.

  3. Members will never ask landowners to enter into “finds sharing agreements” but instead will promptly deliver ALL finds of interest into the hands of their legal owner, the landowner, so that he/she can consider what (if anything) should be done with them. Members will advise landowners to obtain independent advice upon the significance and value of all finds.

  4. Any sale of a find will be a matter for the landowner alone to decide upon; any find he donates to a Member will be at his sole discretion and not subject to any contractual or other obligation, and if he does donate a find to a Member the Member will never sell it.

  5. In the event that a public museum wishes to purchase a find, Members will voluntarily forego a significant portion of any benefit (whether Treasure Act reward or ex-gratia share offered by the landowner) in order to enable the museum to purchase at less than full value as we believe accepting maximum rewards are inconsistent with an ethical approach, as is obliging hard-pressed museums to buy finds at full market value).

  6. Members will confirm prior to detecting that the landowner consents to him promptly reporting full details of all recordable finds or discoveries of unknown sites to the government's Portable Antiquities Scheme and will then do so in every case.

  7. Members will promptly give a museum a sight of any finds the landowner allows them to keep on the basis that if the museum requires any they will be donated without conditions.

  8. Members will properly catalogue and curate any finds not required by the landowner or museum (and recommend or help the landowner to do the same with any he keeps) and make arrangements to ensure they will be re-offered to a museum in the event of their demise.

  9. Members will not detect anywhere (irrespective of legality) without prior confirmation from the appropriate Local Authority curator that doing so poses no threat to the known resource.

  10. Members will comply with and regard the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales as a minimum level of good practice, with the exception of certain sections which fall short of the Association's view of truly ethical detecting. In particular: (a.) Members will not enter “finds agreements” with landowners (see above)  (b.) Members will not support metal detecting clubs or institutions in which the behavioural standards of any participants are less than entirely ethical  (c.) Members will never detect upon long-undisturbed land or use the new generation of artefact-detection machines that are capable of working at excessive depths. (d.) Members will not support unstructured commercial artefact hunting rallies that do not accord with professional standards (as these deliver neither maximum benefit to society nor minimum damage to the resource).

The above is a template designed to inspire some ethical detectorists to form a group based upon
similar aspirations. The forum is one in which only ethical detectorists and others who fully accept
the version of ethical detecting reflected by the EMDA pledges will be authorised as members.

COMMENTS : ethicaldetecting@gmail.com

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