Ilford, United Kingdom
Metal detecting is often considered the preserve of peculiar old gentlemen in weatherproof macs and farmer’s caps milling around a soggy field in the middle of nowhere, but a recent survey has discovered a growing interest in the hobby, especially amongst families with children.
The survey, organised by the London-based research and strategy consultancy Populus in conjunction with metal detecting hobbyist site Detectorlist.com, found that fifty-four per cent of respondents aged between 45-54 years were considering taking up metal detecting, in which people use special devices to search areas of open ground for objects of archaeological and historical value. Ironically, given the popular conception of the hobby as a preserve of the older and retired generation, two-thirds of over-65s were not likely to start detecting.
Geographically most of the 2,701 survey respondents that were keen to take up the hobby were in Scotland and Wales, with the smallest number coming from London. Meanwhile, sixty-six per cent of the people who responded and had children aged under eighteen years said they thought their offspring would be interested in becoming metal detectorists.
Many respondents said they were attracted to the pastime as they thought it would be interesting, exciting, a hobby to pass the time and a way to find buried treasure. In the UK, hobbyists have been credited with some of the most significant treasure trove and other archaeological discoveries from the country’s history. Major finds by metal detectorists include 2,600 silver coins dating from the 1066 Battle of Hastings and worth GBP £5 million. These were found in a remote Somerset county field in January 2019 by a couple who were fans of metal detecting. On the island of Jersey, a man who had searched for rumoured treasure for thirty years stumbled upon a hoard of 69,347 Iron Age coins in 2012. That trove was said to be worth around £10 million and broke the Guinness World Record title for largest coin collection ever found.
Douglas Wilson, who manages the Detectorlist.com website, said: “We already knew that metal detecting is gaining in popularity, but the results have surprised even us. It is good to know that lots of parents think their children would enjoy the hobby. The TV series ‘Detectorists’ starring Mackenzie Crook definitely helped to gain some interest, and the news regularly features details of valuable finds.”
“Populus survey reveals surprising interest in metal detecting” – journalism.co.uk/Mousetrap Media Ltd (6 February 2020) https://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/populus-survey-reveals-surprising-interest-in-metal-detecting/s66/a751297/
“Surprising Survey Results? (February 2020)” – Douglas Wilson, Detectorist Blog/Detectorlist (5 February 2020) https://www.detectorlist.com/blogs/detectorist-blog/surprising-survey-results-feb-2020
“COINING IT IN Metal-detecting couple find one of UK’s largest ever treasure hoards after discovering 2,600 ancient coins worth around £5million” – Debbie White, The Sun/News UK/News Group Newspapers Limited (26 August 2019) https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9796301/metal-detecting-couple-find-one-uks-largest-treasure-hoards-2600-ancient-coins-worth-5million/
“Detectorists unearth record breaking haul of 69,347 Iron Age coins after 30-year search” – Telegraph Reporters, The Telegraph/Telegraph Media Group Limited (2 February 2020) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/02/02/detectorists-find-britains-largest-ancient-coin-hoard-discovering/