5. Battlefields as Heritage at Risk—What Role Does Hobbyist Metal Detecting Play?

5.1 The extent of metal detecting activity on sites of conflict

It is difficult to establish the true extent of hobbyist metal detecting on sites of conflict due to the fact that most detecting activity is conducted on a small scale and will likely leave little trace. We must therefore look to other sources of information such as interviews, anecdotal evidence, the media (including specialist metal detecting magazines and appearances in newspapers), as well as online metal detecting forums, together with data collected from the Portable Antiquities Scheme in England and Wales, Treasure Trove in Scotland and the Historic Environment Record. While it is not the intention of the author to present the full results of this research until analysis is complete, it is necessary to provide a representative sample, a taster, in order to illustrate the degree to which metal detecting activity has occurred on sites of conflict across the UK. One significant, and unexpected, source of data came from the auction website eBay, which became the focus of a two-year monitoring programme initiated by the author in 2007 as part of on-going doctoral research. This programme identified a surprising range of sites of conflict, from battlefields to firing ranges, and a significant volume of related material available for sale.


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