We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Research & business

View Profile

Publication details for Dr Benjamin Roberts

Murgia, A., Roberts, B.W. & Wiseman, R. (2014). What have metal-detectorists ever done for us? Discovering Bronze Age gold in England and Wales. Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 44(3): 353-367.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper discusses the impact of metal-detecting and legal frameworks on the reporting of Bronze Age gold discoveries in England and Wales between 1740 and 2010. The 13-year period after the introduction of the Treasure Act (1996) saw a major increase in the reporting of gold finds in England and Wales: one third of all known Bronze Age gold sites and objects were discovered in this short time. Almost all of these findings were made by members of the public: chiefly metal-detectorists. Professional archaeologists have discovered less than 5% of Bronze Age gold sites or objects, despite the rapid expansion of developer-funded archaeology in England and Wales during the same period. We believe the legal obligations imposed on metal-detectorists by the Treasure Act (1996) are a pragmatic solution to the differing goals of metal-detectorists and archaeologists, while also generating valuable archaeological materials and information that would otherwise be lost. It has also led to a far higher proportion of find-spots being investigated by archaeologists than in the years before the implementation of the Treasure Act (1996). The immense research implications are only gradually being explored.