Digging into the Past: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything You Need to Know About Metal Detecting in the UK

Metal Detecting is an incredibly addictive hobby, it is like going on a healthy vigorous walk with a lucky scratch card being found every 20 minutes or so. Could the prize be nothing at all, or something amazing. You just don’t know until you dig it out.

It is great for your physical fitness levels. You are walking, you are swinging a weight on a stick from side to side as you walk, you are bending and digging and climbing over gates and stiles and enjoying the fresh area and scenery at the same time.

It is also amazing for your mental health, you are escaping from your normal life for a few hours or an entire day. You have time to think, or even time to clear your mind of everything else that is going on in your life. You can do it on your own, with a friend, or group of friends, or with a bunch of strangers. There really isn’t anything else like metal detecting it is a unique and addictive pastime.

Metal detecting isn’t necessarily a cheap hobby but once you have bought the equipment, you don’t have to frequently replace it. So let’s look at the things that you will definitely need to go metal detecting.

Metal Detector – Obviously you will need one of these. There are a range of brands out there and you can spend anywhere from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand. They will all find metal objects but some will do it better than others. My advice would be to stick to the mainstream brands, brands that proper detecting retailers sell, if the main stockists don’t sell it then there is probably a good reason. I would suggest that you stay away from Amazon as it is full of brands that you will never hear of anywhere else, usually cheap chines brands that are built down to a price. They will find metal (just about) but you will get frustrated and bored with the hobby and all the main brands do well priced starter machines anyway. So only consider brands like XP or Minelab (These are probably the best two brands out there), you could also consider Garrett, Quest and C-Scope, but nothing else comes close to these top 5.

Spade – You will need to dig your finds out. In the winter the ground can be heavy and waterlogged, in the summer it can be as hard as concrete so you need a spade that is up to the job. Cheap ones will soon snap. Again the main dealers stock a wide range of detecting spades (note if it digs it is a spade, not a shovel) Heavy ones last longer, but remember that you are going to have to carry this around with you, all day, so choose wisely. My personal choice is very strong, but also quite heavy, but I drag my spade behind me so the weight isn’t too much of a problem.

Pinpointer – Not everyone uses them, but for me they are essential. Once you have dug your hole your main detector will tell you whether it is still in the hole, or in the plug, but your pinter probe will guide you to its exact spot. It is just a mini hand held metal detector. Pinpointers can be worn in a holder on your belt or kept in your bag. Rechargeable ones are best, but cheaper ones just run of standard AA batteries. The most popular pinpointer is by Garrett, often referred to as the Carrott because of its bright orange colours, but Quest also make orange ones. Minelab and XP also manufacture pinpointers.

Digging Tool – Once you are on your hands and knees your spade is not going to help you much. From this angle your spade is going to either going to do your back in, or damage your find. Invest in a proper digging tool. This could be just a gardeners hand trowel. Some people use plastic ones to minimise damage if it comes into contact with the find, others have big serrated commando knife style ones that can cut through pretty much anything. A word of caution, if you are using a sharp metal one, watch your fingers and leave it in its scabbard thing until you really need it. Use your pinpointer or your fingers, only bring out the digging tool if you have to.

Coin Pod or Similar – A coinpod is a small case or box to keep your finds in. They are usually foam lined to stop things moving about and rubbing against each other. Then can be like a pot with slots in the foam inside, or flat and open out. I prefer the flat ones as I can just slip it into my pocket.

Waterproof Boots – Either wellingtons or lace up boots but they need to be waterproof. Unlined wellingtons can be cold in winter, so either get lined ones or just wear thick socks. One thing to remember, whatever you do, don’t wear boots with steel toecaps!

Gloves – Personally I think that gloves are essential. In winter they help to keep your hands warm and dry, but I even wear them in summer, otherwise your fingernails will just be full of mud and soil. Some dirt even gets through gloves, but it is better than nothing. Disposable gloves tear too easily but general cheap workwear gloves are cheap enough and last.

That’s about it really, but if I think of anything else I will add it to the list.

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