A friendly Englishman who recently settled in southern Sweden wrote me to ask how a law-abiding metal detectorist should go about getting a permit to pursue their hobby in this country.

The first thing to understand is that the Swedish system makes it effectively impossible to metal detect on a whim while vacationing (unless you’re a nighthawk). Paperwork, overburdened county officials and long waits are always part of the process. A sustained metal detector hobby is only really possible if you stick to one or two län counties and establish a good relationship with the County Archaeologist and County Museum.

I’ll explain the pertinent laws, then I’ll give some instructions.

  • Metal detecting is illegal in Sweden without a permit from the County Archaeologist, Länsantikvarien. Metal detecting is never legal for amateurs on the islands of Gotland and Öland in the Baltic.

  • Sweden has no trespassing laws: as long as you don’t interfere with crops or livestock, or bother someone at home, you can go wherever you want.
  • When a member of the public makes an archaeological find, he (not the landowner) has ownership of it except in the following cases, where he is obliged to offer the find to the State before possibly gaining ownership:
    • Objects that consist at least in part of gold, silver or copper / bronze / brass.

    • Objects that are found together in some kind of cluster.
  • This means that if you find a single iron object, it is not illegal to keep it, but you are concealing potentially valuable archaeological data. If you find a flint chip and a potsherd together in one spot, then you are obliged to offer them to the State. And if the State decides to keep any of your finds, you are entitled to remuneration.
  • The find spot of an archaeological object becomes a known archaeological site the moment you show your finds to the museum staff. This means that if you find something really interesting in a field and follow the rules, chances are you will not get continued permission to metal detect in that field, as most County Archaeologists do not let detectorists anywhere near known archaeological sites.

With all this in mind, to enjoy metal detecting legally and constructively in Sweden, follow these steps.

  1. Identify a likely field/beach/park far from the nearest registered ancient monument (runic Rs on the map, also check the on-line register).

  2. Check with the landowner & tenant that it wouldn’t cause them trouble to have you walking and digging little pits on the land in such and such a season.
  3. Print out or photocopy a map and circle the area you want to metal detect with a marking pen. A field or two is realistic: a parish is not.
  4. Write an application letter to Länsantikvarien at Länsstyrelsen (i.e. the County Archaeologist at your County Council) where you specify the time frame (weeks or months are realistic, years are not) and emphasise that you will get the landowner’s & tenant’s permission and you will show your finds to your County Museum. Append the map.
  5. Wait two weeks and then start nagging the County Archaeologist politely by phone.
  6. When metal detecting, bring your permit and a GPS navigator. Bag all finds except those of which you’re absolutely positive that they are of post-WW2 date. (Hint: all aluminium is post-WW2.) Write coordinates in the Swedish National grid on the bags.
  7. Once a month or so, make an appointment with an archaeologist at the County Museum to look through your recent finds.
  8. Everything will be much easier if you get to know people: join the local historical society and offer the County Museum your services as a volunteer (or, if you’re lucky, paid subcontractor) on its excavations.

Now, what have I forgotten? And is anything unclear? Tell me!

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Comments

  1. #1 stewart
    May 29, 2009

    Ohh,i’m a “friendly” Englishman AND “law abiding”,that’ll surprise a few people lol!

    Seriously – I can’t state how much time and hassle you’ve saved me Martin,and can only thank you for your time and effort. I think and hope that this blog will help all us non-Swedish speaking heathen’s who wish to detect here legally,plough through the red tape requirements.
    I also think all this is..unfortunate? (being polite here)..as i seriously doubt that many will sit,wait and hope through all the hassle for licences to detect legally,forcing them into becomming unwilling “nighthawks” or at the very least,covertly dumping a box of finds on a museum’s doorstep at 4am and running off!

    One thing i’m not sure of – what is the law regarding beach finds? I mean modern day gold rings,necklaces,coins etc etc?

    Once again,thanks for your invaluble help. :)

  2. #2 Martin R
    May 29, 2009

    I really don’t know what the law says about recently dropped objects! I’d act according to my own common sense: if I find an inscribed wedding ring, of course I try to find the owner or hand the thing in to the police. But if I find a recent 5 kronor coin, I simply keep it. I love returning tarnished coins into circulation. (-;

  3. #3 stewart
    May 29, 2009

    Sounds sensible.Thanks mate. :)

  4. #4 Tobias
    May 29, 2009

    One point that might be relevant to your English friend (depending on how far south he has settled) is that the County Administrative Board (CAB) in Scania/Skåne does not issue permissions to hobby detectorists on any inland sites since you are likely to find old stuff wherever you go. At least that’s what they told me. Public beaches and some parks are ok, though.

    There is an application form to download from the CAB here: http://www.lansstyrelsen.se/NR/rdonlyres/06DE0B93-4F03-4B3B-B8DF-0639C7BDDE45/0/metallsokare_2009.pdf

    Attach a map and send it in. That’s about it. Permissions are granted for a year at a time.

    I have given up trying to gain permission on fields in Scania. The promise of having the permission withdrawn if you do find something of significance isn’t too encouraging either. Living in Malmö, however, I am fortunate enough to be able to take the bridge over to Denmark, where they have the sense to appreciate our contribution.

  5. #5 Tobias
    May 29, 2009

    @Stewart: I don’t think the law turns law abiding detectorists into nighthawks. It just shuts them down while the ones who didn’t bother with the law in the first place carry on undisturbed.

  6. #6 stewart
    May 29, 2009

    @Tobias – i’m in skåne,outside Båstad. :(
    Thanks for the info anyhow.

  7. #7 BeckyWS
    May 29, 2009

    Hello Martin,
    Been enjoying your blog for a while now.
    Personally, although it is undeniable that many exciting finds have been made through metal-detecting in the UK (and they have their uses on exavations), I would like to see a similar standard of care here as in the Swedish laws. I think it would help to sort out those people who are genuinely interested and wish to respect their material heritage, from those who just dig stuff up and sell it.
    We could also do with changing the Treasure law so that like Sweden, multiple artefact finds do not have to include metal.
    Regards
    Becky Wragg Sykes

  8. #8 Tobias
    May 29, 2009

    @Stewart: The Båstad beach is small but there is probably loads of coins to find. I spend part of my summers there and have never seen a detectorist there. They do have a machine to sift out rubbish, but I don’t think it gets the small stuff.

    Also, you could try to get permits in Halland. I have heard that the CAB there, at least in the past, has been more accommodating than others (e.g. Skåne). They have their own form (you would think they could have one form for all CABs, but no…): http://www.m.lst.se/NR/rdonlyres/8EF462EF-605F-4674-A16E-EB104C153231/106703/2kapmetalls%C3%B6kare.pdf

    Good luck (you might just need it)!

  9. #9 Tobias
    May 29, 2009

    @BeckyWS

    If you adopt the Swedish version you would get virtually no metal finds from hobby detectorists at all since no permits would be granted.

    You would be far better off with something like the Danish system. The only thing that could be improved on that one, in my opinion, is to have more severe consequences for those who break the law.

  10. #10 stewart
    May 29, 2009

    Unfortunately the fact is that there will ALWAYS be people who are dishonest and couldn’t give a flying ..fig..for history or it’s preservation!
    I know guys who would laugh at what i’m intending to go through here just to detect legally.Where i live,and i’m guessing in a lot of Sweden,it can be weeks before i actually see a police car,and then it’s usually parked buying food or doing a speed trap!
    Legal detecting will not bother those types who just love finding old things or more to the point,see the large profits that some things can bring.One gold coin can basically pay off your metal detector outlay.What will 12 do?
    Don’t know about Sweden yet,but the UK has a lot of gold coin and object finds,many of which are declared to the PAS,but i have no doubt whatsoever that a hell of a lot arn’t declared!
    Nevertheless,Britain is hugely more aware of it’s historical artifacts,and it’s museum’s filling up nicely thanks very much,due to the fact that most detectorists are honest and pursue their hobby in a way that benefits all.

    Having read Martin’s comments over time here,i’m sure that’s the vision he see’s when advocating “licensed detecting”?
    As an archeologist he probably hates that an ancient vase may be smashed by a spade digging it up,but without being dug up at all the vases contents may never again see the light of day or be enjoyed by anyone!

    Responsible licensing would be far better than no finds at all. Just my opinion.

  11. #11 Håkan
    May 29, 2009

    I wouldnt recommend the swedish legislation to anyone! I would say that the agriculture, pollution and archaeologists are the biggest threats to the artefacts – the nighthawks are a small problem in comparison. We know for a fact that almost all prehistoric metal objects in arable land are in the plough soil. The artefacts in the plough soil are deteriorating due to the effects of tractors and ploughs, manure etc. You dont se much interest in this problem from swedish archaeologists. It is (almost)impossible to penetrate the top soil with a metal detector so the few finds in “real” context will rest in peace. Its very uncommon with systematic top soil detecting in swedish archaeology so in case of an excavation you can be sure of that almost all metal will end up in the spoilheap! The legislation in combination with the standard archaeological methods are a catastrophy – no one will ever get the chance to see the majority of the artefacts. I think Martins suggestion of a system with metal detecting license and Tobias idea of more severe consequences for those who break the law are the right way to go! Look at the danes instead of the swedes when it comes to metal deceting!

    Håkan

    (If anyone wonders; im not an over enthusiastic detectorist – im one of the few metal dececting archaeolgists).

  12. #12 Martin R
    May 29, 2009

    Becky, what I find distressing about the current UK system is that you’re not required to hand in single copper-alloy objects, only hoards.

    I think the Danish system is good. Or, since Sweden doesn’t quite work like Denmark, we could institute a licensing system like the one for hunting rifles.

  13. #13 Simon
    May 30, 2009

    FYI, Aluminium is NOT all post-WWII. It was heavily used during the war in many things including aircraft and personal equipment. Not as relevant to Sweden i know, given her role during WWII but we find a lot of it in your neighbouring countries of Finland and Norway.

  14. #14 Martin R
    May 30, 2009

    I hate aluminium! Grrrr!

  15. #15 Tobias
    May 30, 2009

    Second that!

  16. #16 Ny Björn
    May 30, 2009

    My feelings towards metal detectors and their masters are a bit mixed. My ongoing PhD research is, if not totally so at least heavily dependent on legal metal detecting of Gotlandic settlement sites. Most of them have never – and most probably will never – undergo proper and full-scale excavations. But the reason they were located and interpreted was that bleedin’ nighthawks were – and are – scavenging the sites on a regular basis. It’s like you’re trying to interpret a really bad digital photo and meanwhile some prat is nicking the individual pixels, making the pic even more obscure…

  17. #17 Martin R
    May 30, 2009

    A better way to manage Gotland’s metal-rich sites might be to open them to honest local detectorists with licenses and GPS navigators. If a site starts getting looted, you could just organise a museum-sponsored detector rally and vacuum clean the m’afuckah.

  18. #18 Tobias
    May 30, 2009

    My point exactly. You will never find anyone more determined to nail hawks to the wall than conscientious detectorists. You have a great untapped resource out there. Why not use it? It’s free, too.

  19. #19 Ny Björn
    May 30, 2009

    I’m all for licensed metal detectors – at least if it, as you Martin put it, is based on how rifles are licensed in Sweden, i.e. you have to register for it. I’d also like to see such a registration combined with a compulsory education in finds-how-to, which emphasizes the importance of registration, proper conservation and the outright stupidity connected with ripping undocumented finds out of their contexts even if it’s from ploughsoil.

    The current situation on the island is that a few trusted archaeologists perform random searches on lands which are evident/probable targets for nighthawks. I’d imagine the man-hours form the largest cost, followed by conservation. The County Archaeologists have had really bad experiences with people (read: badly planned research) with metal detectors finding really important finds sans a conservation budget. So when I applied for and got a permit this spring I really had to show that I could take care of all possible finds within the project.

    If one could organize “rallies” with voluntary, yet experienced detectorists that would be good – but one would still have to get funds to take care of the finds prior of sending them to the Museum of National Antiquities (where most of the finds from Gotlandic settlements with registered hoards end up) – or they wont accept the finds.

  20. #20 Tobias
    May 30, 2009

    There is no stupidity in removing previously undocumented finds from the ploughsoil. Just common sense.

    Even if there is no current budget for conserving such finds, they will fare much, much, better in a storage box awaiting such funding, than deteriorating in the ploughsoil thanks to chemical and mechanical effects. And even if there will never be a chance for conservation, it is better to record them now, than to never record them at all.

    We are talking ploughsoil finds here and we all know what happens to the absolute majority of them during archaeological excavations (if there ever is one on the site in question). Spoilheap feed.

  21. #21 Ny Björn
    May 30, 2009

    Tobias – I stand by the said stupidity. I have numerous examples of badly performed surveys (by official bodies) with non-existent or bad documentation of the positions of finds which later have become important (as well as the only) clues for to interpret the make-ups of settlements and suchlike.

    A vast majority of Gotlandic finds are made in tiled farmland where there’s no reason to strip the ploughsoil – we’re not talking contract excavations here (which I as a finds geek has been able to dodge so far). Even if a find HAS been found in ploughsoil it can still be plotted on a plan and render an admittedly rough, yet usually informative picture where clusters of finds signals various features. Epicentra of hoards are found this way, as well as – most important for me – metal workshops/working areas. Sans the position – no plan, just a silent object which could have yielded a lot more.

    I do respect the possibilities in metal detecting, but to get the most out of the finds one has to take care of the find positions. Besides that I’m, as I wrote above, quite positive to metal detecting – it brings an increased empirical base for finds research and I’m in the game due to the finds…

  22. #22 Tobias
    May 30, 2009

    @Ny Björn: I totally agree that a GPS-fix should accompany all reported finds. It should be a minimum requirement. I can definitively understand your frustration if such information is lacking.

    The finds reports we submit to our local museum (in Denmark), which they after a first control onsend to the National Museum in Copenhagen, contain information regarding the ID of the plot of land, the landowner, suggestion for ID of the find, possible alloy, measurements, weight, and a GPS-fix with about 3 meters accuracy. Also, the finds are plotted on a map in google earth and we submit printed maps and electronic files in kmz format so they can slice and dice the information anyway they like.

    As I said before, we are just here to help, and I hope I’ll meet you in the field sometime.

  23. #23 Håkan
    May 30, 2009

    Where will you find the voluntary, yet experienced detectorists? To gather a rally you will have to call in the danes, as in Uppåkra.

    Its interesting (and annoying) that every discussion concerning metal detecting in this country tends to focus on the negative aspects (looting) instead of looking att the big possibilities (new knowledge etc). Most danish archaeologist “loves” the amateur detectorists who (for no cost) rescues finds that no one would otherwise see.

    The majority of the artefacts are in the plougsoil and they are deteriorating quickly. This is the biggest problem that we need to focus on. The only way to save this material is to adopt some kind of danish system.

    Håkan

    Ps Dont misunderstand me – i hate nigthawks as much as (ore more than) anyone else.

  24. #24 Ny Björn
    May 31, 2009

    Oh, I do agree – the official Swedish attitude towards metal detecting is pretty dated, but so are at least parts of the archaeological line of work as well, especially the end parts at the museums. With the current low funded approach where a very small number of people are to take care of a very large number of finds the whole system would ground to a halt if the Danish system was introduced. The museums are leaky ships even without the onslaught of detector finds.

    Even if I’d personally like to see an increase in organized metal detecting that would probably take an enormous effort to bring on. One would have to form some kind of national body for metal detecting which then actively would try to work the officials it concerns. It would need a lot of time and money and probably some kind of well documented proof of the scientific value of metal detecting on a national and general level (the sheer joy of finding some coins etc. in a field is not enough). I was once in the board of a newly started society for traditional crossbow shooting. To own and use a crossbow in Sweden you need to be a member of such a society and through it you can apply for a license. But despite the fact that there’s been organized crossbow sport shooting in Sweden for decades the bureaucracy was a total mess. No one really knew who gave which permit etc, etc – and they certainly didn’t bother to re-organize just because a bunch of happy geeks came along. If a change is to be brought on in the Swedish policy we need to be more than a bunch of happy geeks – we’re speaking heavy lobbying here, paired with high-cred inquests. That will take a lot of money, time and devotion.

  25. #25 Martin R
    May 31, 2009

    Ny Björn, as Tobias said, it’s 2009 and nobody’s suggesting that finds can legitimately be ripped out of the plough soil without GPS coordinates.

    Håkan, I found my volunteer experienced detectorists in the Gothenburg Historical Society’s metal detector section. We have worked together since 2003. I pay for gas, accommodation and breakfast: they drive up to Östergötland and join me on site.

  26. #26 Håkan
    May 31, 2009

    Its easy to find well documented proof of the sientific value of extensive metal detecting in Denmark.
    Kulturhistorisk Museum Randers are for example arranging a seminar in September on the subject.

    Im aware of the problems with lacking founds in the museums but you will never heare that argument from the archaeologist that support the swedish legislation (because it would be like saying that its ok to crush the artefacts with tractors and ploughs to the extent that no one will ever get to see them).

    Martin, with all respect to you, the Gothenburg Historical Society’s metal detector section and Tobias and co (and i realy like your work)- Are you many enough to arrange a rallie;-)

  27. #27 Martin R
    May 31, 2009

    Håkan, I guess you’re thinking in Napoleonic terms of giant armies of highly disciplined detectorists? (-;

  28. #28 Håkan
    May 31, 2009

    The more the merrier:-)

  29. #29 stewart
    May 31, 2009

    I could call in regiments of Brit mercenaries! :)
    And there’s always the German tourist detectorist’s who still practice blitzkrieg on the fields around here every summer regardless of law’s rules or consequences!

    Time to light the fires of revolution in Sweden?

    (Warning! this will require you swede’s to do something i’m told you’re not very good at – “complaining”?)
    Lol.

  30. #30 Tobias
    May 31, 2009

    @Håkan: Depends on how big a rally we are talking about. Even five guys would be better than one (or even none). And we should keep in mind that the Danish factor only can be used when you more or less can guarantee of cool finds. All the preliminary work and smaller sites won’t be enough to make them pack up their kit and come over, which is understandable since we are talking about their spare time.

    And nothing bad about the Danes (many of them are very experience and good friends of mine) but I have more than once met the attitude from Swedish archaeologists that just being Danish (or even better, from Bornholm) automatically qualifies them as skilled detectorists. It’s a strange sensation to be rejected by Swedes just for being Swedish, even though I log an average of 8 hours detecting per week, year round (almost exclusively field and pasture and 95% of it in Denmark). Fortunately, Danish archaeologists think we are the dog’s dangly bits.

    However, I really do cherish those 5% I get to detect in Sweden. A big thanks to those archaeologists who make it possible (you know who you are)!

  31. #31 Tobias
    May 31, 2009

    Regarding the scientific contribution of metal detecting, there is a book that’s just been published. “Metal Detecting and Archaeology” is edited by PETER G. STONE, Head of the School of Arts and Cultures and formerly Director of the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies at the University of Newcastle, and SUZIE THOMAS, a research postgraduate studying the relationships between archaeology and metal detecting.

    I have ordered it but it hasn’t arrived yet, so I can’t comment on it, but it will surely be an interesting read.

    The weblink is: http://www.boydell.co.uk/43834154.HTM

  32. #32 stewart
    May 31, 2009

    Side issue sorry:

    Tobias mate,i sent you an email on friday night,dunno if it didn’t get there or you just haven’t checked mail,but i did send.let me know.
    lol.

    I checked out the map Martin gave me the link for to pick area’s to get a permit to detect in that don’t have the runic “R” symbol near them.
    I think he made a mistake and sent me the link to an old wartime map of Paris which shows the locations of all German units!!
    I can barely find my house under all the “R”‘s!!
    I actually think one of them is stuck over my front garden!
    Hundred’s of them,and i’ve only looked in about a 5 kilometre area.
    Checked the girlfriends parents house in Sala…same thing! I think there must be army’s of swedish county archeologists flying around on mopeds placing runic “R”‘s on anything that remotely looks like grass and dirt! :O

    If all the detectorists in the western world were suddenly let loose in Sweden,i doubt half the field’s with “R”‘s over them could be detected before we all dropped dead of old age!
    I’m certain that Sweden doesn’t contain enough archeologists and students to ever get through 1/3 of them…so i guess we’ll never know what 98% of the historical treasure’s buried there (if ANY)look like.
    Damn shame if you ask me. :(

  33. #33 Tobias
    May 31, 2009

    @Stewart: I got it. I’ll get back to you.

    Regarding the R-symbols, even small flint-knaps warrant an R. As most of southern Sweden is covered in stone age settlements, there are a lot of Rs. To boot, the Båstad area is smothered in them… And as we don’t want those pesky detectorists to accidentally disturb any flints in the ploughsoil, we’ll just prohibit metal detecting on such sites. So, go for the beach or sites further away from home lacking those Rs. It’s ridiculous, I know.

  34. #34 stewart
    May 31, 2009

    Ok mate,was just checking.

    Yup it’s not looking too good a hobby to have begun here in Båstad.Just goes to show how “research,research,research” does pay off.If i’d done this first i’d have saved my detector money! lol.

    Still,i’ll apply to do Båstad and Ängelsback beaches,and send in a very hopeful request for Tylösand in Halmstad,to Halland.
    Other than that it’ll be friends gardens and stuff helping to find lost wedding rings,and maybe a bit of field walking for flints.
    Bah Humbug!

  35. #35 Tobias
    May 31, 2009

    Sorry to have to say this, but detecting friends’ gardens also requires a permit from the CAB. The actual owner of the land has no influence over what the CAB decides.

  36. #36 stewart
    May 31, 2009

    I used to like living in Sweden! :(

    Any room in your car to Denmark? :D

  37. #37 Håkan
    May 31, 2009

    “met the attitude from Swedish archaeologists that just being Danish (or even better, from Bornholm) automatically qualifies them as skilled detectorists”

    Ha ha i know what (and who) you are talking about. I have met the attitude that me, beeing an archaeologist automatically disqualifys me as a metal detectorists. Its true that the number of skilled detectorists among archaeologists are few. But its possible to achive lot of rutin even when you are working in contract archaeology – you just have to sacrifice your career ;-)

  38. #38 Tobias
    May 31, 2009

    But I’ve also met those who contend that without an degree in archaeology, you cannot be a skilled detectorist. The problem is like the Gordian knot; you don’t know where to start in order to unravel the problem…

  39. #39 Martin R
    May 31, 2009

    I’m reviewing the Stone & Thomas book for Fornvännen. Interesting and wide-ranging. One cool thing I’ve learned is that the Portable Antiquities Scheme has recorded huge numbers of non-metal finds as well. Apparently the fieldwalking hobby also appreciates the finds liaison officers.

  40. #40 Tobias
    May 31, 2009

    Not only fieldwalkers. Also detectorists collect and deliver a lot of pottery, bone and antler, glass shards and beads, flint and other stone items. I even know a few arcaeologists in Denmark who consider us detectorists’ foremost contribution to be the flints we deliver since that is “real archaeology” :o) One example of a non-metal find is this fire-striking stone in quartzite (ca. 0-500 AD) that I found a while back.

  41. #41 Tobias
    May 31, 2009
  42. #42 Martin R
    May 31, 2009

    Aaah, lovely! As to its date, I don’t think you get those belt-mounted strike-a-light stones in the Early Roman Period, so my guess is AD 150-540.

    Most detectorists can’t fieldwalk and metal detect well at the same time. The Gothenburgers and I did over a hundred man-hours of metal detecting at Sättuna without identifying the Late Mesolithic site that showed up when I machine-stripped part of the field. Even though I found an axe sitting on top of the ploughsoil while we were stripping!

    One guy who does have the rare skill to do both in parallell, though, is Niklas Krantz who found the foil figure die at Sättuna.

  43. #43 Håkan
    May 31, 2009

    “Also detectorists collect and deliver a lot of pottery, bone and antler, glass shards and beads, flint and other stone items”

    I remember on day of metal detecting last year in Skegrie, Scania. The only result was a fragment of a flint axe and a blade of the same material.

    And last month i found a simborgarmärke (distinction for 200 meter swimming) on an mediveal farm…

    Ny Björn; talking about the scientific value of metal detecting. You are able to write a PHD of metal detectes sites on Gotland. You could do the same with metal detected sites from Bornholm, Zealand, Jutland and the rest of Denmark – but the material from Sweden (expect Gotland) would not be enough to write a short paper on. The fact is that we dont know very much about the use of metal in prehistoric times in Sweden.

  44. #44 Ny Björn
    May 31, 2009

    Well – *I* know what can be made of the settlement related finds from the Gotlandic Hoard Project, but they have been all but forgotten for the last 20 years or so since the focus of these surveys has always been on finding silver. After Majvor Östergren published her thesis in 1989 not much of greater value have been made out of her results and the finds from the random post-RAGU surveys.

    I’d say it’s up to individual researchers to show that metal detecting actually can be a thorough basis for research in mainland Sweden, beyond battle field studies (where it seems to be accepted). If the method is to gain any cred it has to be deployed and published – repeatedly.

    BTW – The Randers conference you mentioned seems to be a good one!

  45. #45 Tobias
    May 31, 2009

    Regarding how metal detecting can gain cred as an archaeological method. Metal detecting locates metal. How can that not be enough?

  46. #46 Martin R
    June 1, 2009

    Swedish archaeologists haven’t paid much attention to small finds in later decades. At international symposia on these things (such as the Oscar Almgren fibulae jubilee), the Swedish contribution is usually given by a retiree or entirely absent. My colleagues have been too busy reading French and German philosophers. But the tide has finally turned.

  47. #47 Ny Björn
    June 1, 2009

    Tobias: I’m afraid that the empirical raw data which will come out of metal detecting an area wont be enough to convince the Bureaucracy of the marvels of metal detection, you’d have to connect the data to some kind of framework – a research plan – for instance like Martin’s project in Östergötland. Without such a frame you’ll probably be dismissed as a retrogressive treasure hunter. The tide may be changing, but the philosophers’ camp still holds much of the official high ground…

    What you need is to team up with someone and get a case study going – with good results you can use it to fight your way uphill. I’m convinced it can be done, but you have to use the right moves!

  48. #48 Martin R
    June 1, 2009

    You don’t have to be a stoned philosopher to find that data collection in science should be guided by a question you’re trying to answer. But in archaeology, a lot of data need to be collected pre-emptively before the source material becomes dust — such as the case of ancient metalwork lying around in the ploughsoil.

  49. #49 Ny Björn
    June 1, 2009

    Stoned or not – sans a project plan you wont get very far if you want to get to the “R”-marks on the map. But don’t mourn – Organize!

  50. #50 Tobias
    June 2, 2009

    Unfortunately, we don’t get very far even when we apply for permits far removed from any registered sites. At least not in Scania. And since employees at the CAB come and go, it is unlikely that it will be enough to “convert” an individual in order to achieve change that will stand the test of time.

    What is needed, in my opinion, is either new directives from the Swedish National Heritage Board that permits should be granted in accordance with the legislative history (i.e. förarbeten) that preceded the passing of law 1991:474, or an amendment to the law. Of course I support the latter option, and I think that licenses of the sort that Martin has proposed would be a good solution. However, such a proposal (Motion 1998/99:Kr216) was rejected in 2000. At that time, however, it was a single hobby detectorist that was the driving force. Maybe the result would be different a second time around if supported by a larger number of amateurs and professionals alike?

  51. #51 Ny Björn
    June 2, 2009

    It would be more than different – I’d say that a national interest organization is a basic condition to get anywhere with this in Sweden, otherwise you’ll end up treated like a bunch of happy geeks. It might take a while to arrange, but I think it would be well worth the effort. An interest organization backed up with fresh and solvent research results both from archaeologists and metal conservators is harder to dismiss than one single enthusiast.

  52. #52 Tobias
    June 2, 2009

    Even so, it still might prove (very) difficult. I was part of the start-up of Svenska Metalldetektorföreningen (Swedish Metal Detecting Association), which came to be because of the law of 91 with the specific purpose of either effecting a change in the law or establishing realistic conditions for carrying out or hobby. However, it was dismantled after some 3-4 years due to the massive opposition (or rather, the silent treatment). After a while, the SMF got no further permits or opportunities for cooperation with archaeologists. And it was more or less made clear that none would be forthcoming, which reduced SMF to a pure lobbying organisation.

    However, there are loose discussions of starting up something new. At least the support from the professional side has improved during the last decade, which is very welcome.

  53. #53 Martin R
    June 2, 2009

    I’d be happy to join such an association.

  54. #54 Lars
    June 4, 2009

    Me too,
    I’m living in Häljarp, outside Landskrona in Skåne(Scania)
    I have applied for and received permit to detect on beaches in the west side of skåne, from Ängelholm to barsebäck. and some areas in the “woods” close to me. There’s not much forest here, but some recreational areas exist between the fields, and I have gotten a permit for that.

  55. #55 Tobias
    June 4, 2009

    Thanks for the info Lars. And that’s actually really good news!

    If the CAB in Scania now all of a sudden is willing to give permits in woodland, where there is a real risk of disturbing the context of any interesting finds, then they should happily give permits on ploughsoil (where the risk is slim to none) as long as we steer clear of the Rs.

  56. #56 Tobias
    June 4, 2009

    @Lars: It really like to have a look at the permit in question, if possible. You can reach me at t.bondesson@gmail.com

  57. #57 Martin R
    June 4, 2009

    they should happily give permits on ploughsoil as long as we steer clear of the Rs.

    Yeah, generally speaking it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of the County Archaeologist’s arse.

  58. #58 Tobias
    June 4, 2009

    RDRR!

  59. #59 Stewart
    June 7, 2009

    Woohoo Lar’s,that gives me confidence.Just applied to detect Ängelsback,Båstad,Vejbystrand and Hemmerslöv beaches :) too much? lol,guess we’ll see.
    Maybe i should reapply and add Ängelholm,we could battle for the goodies! :D

  60. #60 Lars
    June 9, 2009

    Nahh, would love to see you there.

    I haven’t met anyone yet with a detector.

    I’m planning to go to Ängelholm quite soon, and try the area out before the mugglers arrive. There must be loads of stuff left from last season? On the other hand, I don’t know how many of us that actually go there and detect. ( with or without a permit)

    I was doing a short test in Rydebäck three days ago, but they had “cleaned” the beach with a large machine, and dumped the top layer in big piles. Added to that was some strong winds the day before that, so the sand had drifted heavily. not much to find in the thick dry sand which the wind had deposited.

    better luck next time.
    i hope

    Lars

  61. #61 stewart
    June 10, 2009

    Dunno why they spend all that money on those beach cleaning machines when we do a much better job of clearing all the crap!lol, Blah :(

  62. #62 Martin R
    June 11, 2009

    I hope your metal detector can pick up used adhesive bandages and ice cream sticks. (-;

  63. #63 Willie K.
    June 26, 2009

    Well I personally think it’s a shame, I’ve been a Detectorist for 3 or 4 years now.

    To me it seems that the law does punish those who want to do it legally. Think about it, it’s them we limit.

    The nighthawks carry on since they don’t care about the law any way.
    They organize I would suspect, making it easier on them to plunder/loot the area none the less.

    I would also like to join Svenska Metalldetektorföreningen or similar should it get up and running again.

    If we want change I suppose we do need to organize, otherwise we are talking to deaf ears.

    I also like the Danish law, it’s a middle game of our law (Sweden’s, to harsh) and England’s. (to loose, some claim)

    Best Regards,
    Willie K.

  64. #64 stewart
    July 30, 2009

    Update:

    Well i applied for and got permission from Skåne to detect magnarp strand,vejbystrand,Ängelsback,Torekov,Båstad and Hemmerslöv beaches.(Oddly enough NOT the small beach in Båstad behind Pepe’s bodega,which is the most popular.Blah.)
    And from Halland to do Skummerslöv,Melbystrand and (yay)Tylösands! :)
    I now have to get permissions from EACH Kommun too!
    Wanting to be “legal” i’m in the process of doing all that,but have been detecting most of the beaches already coz i’m the impatient type,lol.Apologies to the purist’s but it’s all a pain in the arse.

    @Lar’s ..I met another detectorist on Skäldaviken beach,(which i’m also applying for as well as Ängelhölm)but he’s the only other dectectorist i’ve seen,and he just seems to whizz about grabbing coins “for gas” from the top layer.I usually find a few more if i go over his ground once he’s gone lol.Could be you for all i know? :P

  65. #65 Martin R
    July 31, 2009

    Well done, Stew! Send me a pic if you find anything you’d like a small-finds nerd’s opinion about.

  66. #66 Stewart
    July 31, 2009

    I’ll certainly do that mate thanks.Unfortunately apart from coins i’ve not found anything of significant interest upto now.My oldest coin is only a 1907 5 öre,and the only other “old” thing i’ve found is a reflector from the back of a very old bicycle.The outer casing appears to be copper or brass.
    I did find an encrusted axe head,but it was a fairly modern one i suspect broke while being used to chop wood for a beach fire.
    I’ll let you know if anything turns up,don’t hold your breath though mate. :)

  67. #67 Willie K.
    August 3, 2009

    Hmm.. A GPS to mark finds?

    Wonders.. Will they (the state) sponsor me since I don’t own one?? ;-P
    Maybe they even will sponsor me with a good video camera for recording finds with laser to get accurate depth readings.
    *grins*

    Re SMF, they should have stood firm if you ask me, the silent treatment should only have resulted in higher screaming from their side. And also media contact/attention.

    I still think us detectorists should organize.
    Question is how to do it effectively.

  68. #68 Lars
    August 5, 2009

    great stew!
    keep us posted on the results from these beaches. I’m especially interested in finding out if tylösand turns out to be a good site.

    I haven’t been very productive lately. been on holiday, and i did not bring my detector with me, since a) the laws in Spain seems to ban detectors now and b) the wife did not approve of me going hunting while on a family holiday :-) Safely back home and I catched a flu (perhaps the swine kind?)

    But any day now I’ll go out and use my beeping machine.

    Best regards,
    Lars

  69. #69 stewart
    August 10, 2009

    @ Lars – Glad you’re back safely mate and hope the holiday went well.
    The Spanish law states you do need permits and all kindsa crap to detect,and if you do find anything,even modern day coinage,you have to hand it in!
    From what i can tell,(from other detecting forums and such) nobody gives a toss about spanish laws and they just detect the beaches anyhow lol.(same as some people here i’m guessing.)
    Kept the wife happy though eh? lol.

    I’ve not done Tylösand yet.Got the permit from Halland but now have to get permission from Halmstad Kommun now.
    That other detectorist i met told me Tylösand is THE best beach! I doubt he has permits and permission,but also doubt he gives a toss either,and just does it!No idea how many others target there.We’ll see.
    Good hunting mate :)

    @ Willie – I also think it would take a massive and organized plan of action by us detectorists here to get anywhere.Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be an organization or people WILLING to put in the time and effort.I can’t even speak Swedish,so i can’t be leader lol.
    Still,we can hope eh?

  70. #70 Lars
    August 11, 2009

    @Stewart – G’Day mate! I was actually thinking of bringing my detector with me to mallorca, and use it anyway, without a permission. There is however a an upside to keeping the wife happy: If mummy is happy – everybody is happy ;-) We had a great time on our holiday.

    I would like to go to for a detecting holiday some time in the future. It would be great if we could round up a small group and go somewhere. A weekend, a week or something. It could be close like Denmark or the Baltic countries, or it could be further away, like the Mediterranean area. North Africa would be great – Carthage? Finding 2000 year old coins and relics…

    Anyway summer here will soon end, and then its our time to take possession of the beaches :-)

    Happy hunting!

  71. #71 Martin R
    August 11, 2009

    I think it would be a really ugly thing to do, to go to a poorer country with lax laws or insufficient policing, and rob their heritage. I’d be really ashamed to see Swedish detectorists in Cartage unless they were part of a research team.

    But Swedish detectorists can become members of Danish detector associations that cooperate with museums and universities on their projects. It’s not far across Öresund. At least one of Aard’s regular readers and guest bloggers does this all the time.

  72. #72 Willie K.
    August 11, 2009

    @Stewart:
    I’ll be working on it. Hopefully soon, a Swedish detecting forum is soon to open I hear according to gossip I picked up.
    (Expect this fall/autumn?)
    If that’s up it may be easier to organize?
    I’d be willing to give it a shoot, but not alone and then as a student on top of that.

    We need somewhere to start, and tops would be a few companies as support and a forum to meet.
    I possibly know 2 companies who would be interested. ;-)

    But that’s a matter of the future, I’m going to study way up north and little time for such fun stuff.
    (Northern Lappland)

    Regards,
    Willie

  73. #73 Stewart
    August 15, 2009

    Northern Lappland?? you’ll be studying where ya nuts vanished to! Cold up there i believe mate,lol.Let us know when this new forum is up and running,and tell them they all have to speak English!! :)

    Have to agree with Martin on Carthage and places like that.Part of an excavational team etc would be fine,but not just arrive and pillage.(we leave that to the vikings :P )
    I’m all for free rein on beaches for gold and coins though.

    A trip to Denmark or the Baltic could be interesting though.I’ll chat with you about this when we meet up.I think Tobias pops over there from Helsingbörg a lot.Maybe he can tell us the rules and places to go etc..or even join us?

    What the hell does anyone go to Northern Lappland to study?…

  74. #74 Willie K.
    August 16, 2009

    @ Stewart,
    Yes.. My nuts?? Heck I am so nuts already so that only does compensate a bit. ;-P
    Yes temps can go down to -40 C there. *grins*

    Actually a military jacket from surplus supply’s is a excellent choice for that, 5.11 makes nice jackets.

    I’m telling ‘em to put up a English corner for you mate. ;)

    In Northern Lappland one can study “Ädelsstens Teknik” which is related to gem stones and jewellery making.

  75. #75 Edward
    January 21, 2011

    If the going gets too tough in Sweden for detecting, you can always try http://www.czechdetectingtours.com. Just a thought…

  76. #76 Gian
    January 6, 2012

    Hi folks,

    I am a MD enthusiast from Italy who recently moved to Sweden (been married to a Swede) and guess what? It´s kinda harsh not being able to practice my favourite hobby on a country with so many restrictions. I have been detecting since I was a child so twenty odd years or so.

    To be honest I am not that interested to get permission in Sweden just to hunt recent Kronor on a playground, if I do detect I do it properely not just for the sake of it but at least to contribute to the preserving of the Swedish Heritage.

    Entries on this topic date back to 2008-9 and I do not know if the the law has now chanced in our favour or not (I´ve heard sth is on the move) however it seems like archeologists do not even consider asking for help to members of the public who enjoy detecting for the sake of their nation and its history.

    How do you think it´s possible to change the rules on the table? I am a simply a dreamer and should perhaps take up fishing?

  77. #77 Martin R
    January 6, 2012

    The rules are going to change, but not very much I’m afraid. I am an example of archaeologists who happily collaborate with bona fide detectorists.

  78. #78 rubber duck
    stockholm
    March 23, 2013

    I know the import laws have changed dealing with metal detectors, as far as I can understand, its not illegal to own one, or import. I have done beach searches in and around Stockholm, keeping a good distance from any declared historic sites or noted burial places. You have to calculate the land rise factor if its viking age ( ca. 10 meters sea level difference) so far I have had no problem with the locals or authorities, as using “a meteorite hunter” seems to be accepted…..

    There are a hand full of us who do regular searches, *cough…”meteorites”… and have stumbled on *other objects.
    If this is classed as “nighthawk” so be it…. but it is a hobby….and NOT a plunder of historical artifacts. Its absurd in this day and age to deny or class a simple hobby as criminal…..but yeah, Sweden has a tendency to get so tied up in over the top bureaucratic law creation that you need “permission” to breath….

    I say use your common sense and enjoy your hobby.

  79. #79 Martin R
    March 23, 2013

    I disagree. If you are finding old metalwork, not putting GPS coordinates on it, not sharing information about your finds with other interested people, then you are plundering the archaeological record.

  80. #80 rubber duck
    March 23, 2013

    key word here, beach…. new stuff.. junk…beer cans… and all around fun things….obviously you missed the part about “using your common sense” which would mean ANY object that would be classed as historical is off limits.

    MY point here is the use of a MD as a HOBBY… and the good sense that would go along with that mind set. This is the problem, its taken for granted that any MD user is already suspect, even if on a beach ( which is where we search.)

  81. #81 Martin R
    March 23, 2013

    Then I agree. I don’t think anybody would want you to put coordinates on beer cans from beaches. But I do think that it would be even more fun for you and way more useful for archaeology if you were given a licence to search for ancient stuff in ploughsoil and report it to the county museum.

  82. #82 rubber duck
    March 23, 2013

    Granted I would love to work those areas, I have asked locally with the kommun I live in, but no one seems to know who exactly is the authority for the area ( perhaps you know?) I hold a degree ( BA) in Geology and have a good working knowledge of bronze age history and would be VERY interested in helping or at least meeting those that do work in this field. ( Stockholm)

    Thanks for your response.

  83. #83 Martin R
    March 23, 2013

    The kommun has no authority. It’s the länsstyrelse. See the blog entry above! And check out my buddy Tobias’s detecting society http://www.rygenedetektorklubb.com/. They are active in Norway and Denmark and often take part in rallies co-organised with museums.

  84. #84 Martin R
    March 23, 2013

    The Swedish licence I wish you could get sadly does not exist — for anyone.

  85. #85 rubber duck
    March 23, 2013

    You know, we lose a great deal in this world when we doubt the better side of humanity. The state may have the best of intension’s, but its based on the negative of what we could be, and its a shame not to use the creativity and imagination that comes with discovery.

    There is so much that could be added to history, if fear didn’t run things.

    Thanks for the links:

  86. #86 Tuesday
    March 29, 2013

    Was thinking metal detecting could be a really fun hobby here in Sweden. Very disappointed to read this article!

    Would definitely be cool if the authorities involved in setting up the red tape instead organized training and licensing of metal detectorists. Absolutely seems like a waste of an incredible resource.