25th June 2024

UK Government Advice For Detectorists In England during COVID-19


Guidance for members of the public (including metal-detectorists) searching for archaeological finds in England during the COVID-19 pandemic.


As of 13 May 2020, you are able to spend unlimited time outdoors as long as social distancing is still practised. If you choose to leave your home to search for archaeological finds, including metal-detectorists, field-walkers and people searching the Thames foreshore (mudlarking), you must follow this advice.

This guidance applies to those living and searching in England following the change in restrictions introduced from 13 May 2020.

This guidance is designed to help individuals search safely while also continuing to be alert to the safety of others. It provides steps to ensure you are able to:

  • safely social distance while searching for archaeological finds
  • fulfil your legal obligations under the Treasure Act 1996
  • ensure your discoveries can be recorded and contribute to archaeological knowledge
  • ensure the protection and preservation of archaeology

This guidance has been written with advice from the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme on how to report your finds and to protect in situ archaeology.

Searching safely

Finders should refer to the current Government advice on staying safe outside your home before leaving their homes to search.

  1. As usual, you must obtain permission from the landowner and/or occupier before venturing on to any land.
  2. If you have previously had permission from a landowner and/or occupier, you should now check again that they are happy for you to continue to search on their land. They may be isolating or shielding and/or may wish to limit the number of people coming onto their land, and their views may have changed given the current circumstances. You should abide by any decision they make.
  3. Think carefully about how you will interact with others, such as landowners and/or occupiers and other members of the public. Make a plan of how you will ensure that you practise and maintain safe social distancing.
  4. People wishing to search the Thames foreshore should refer to the Port of London Authority Guidance on their website page Thames foreshore permits.


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