The National Recording Scheme offers Metal Detecting enthusiasts the opportunity to have their finds officially recorded, but it was a vastly different story in the 1970s. Any attempt to do the right thing in those far of days would more often than not be met with total rejection and downright hostility. This was the result of a totally unwarranted attack on the hobby of metal detecting orchestrated both by archaeologists and museums alike, and was without doubt the main cause of all the problems that followed. The depth to which the organisers sank can be judged from this campaign poster, (click here) which appeared in many public places. It was produced as evidence by the petitioners against The County of Kent Bill (Clause 100) in the House of Lords, where the promoters of the bill were attempting to have metal detecting totally banned on all public land, yet despite all of this, the British public have maintained the best record in the world for reporting finds.
25 years ago, metal detecting enthusiasts took a stand against this constant attack, which in the main was being made by career archaeologists, who despite spending millions of pounds of public money on excavations on prime sites produced an unbelievable lack of interesting coins and artefacts. The general public however were finding a far greater amount of such items whilst merely pursuing one or other leisure activity, or in the course of their normal work. This created a problem for the career archaeologists because their public image was being seriously damaged, bringing into question the value of their work, their competence and their integrity,
In order to fight back the Detector Information Group was set up and a rally in Parliament Square was followed by a march to Downing Street, where a petition was handed in to No 10.
This was the first of a string of major successes, none more so than the sabotaging of the Stop campaign launch organised by the Council for British Archaeology. DIG achieved this by alerting the national press to their intentions 24 hrs beforehand.
DIG resisted the call to form a National Association mainly because it would have meant major changes to the DIG constitution. It was also felt that DIG could serve the cause more effectively as an independent pressure group. During a meeting at the Central Council for Physical Recreation offices it was suggested that DIG brought together the various metal detector federations with the object of forming a National body. A meeting subsequently took place at CCPR headquarters that led to the formation of the National Council For Metal Detecting
Despite today's apparent calm and the recent comments by a director of the British Museum “that more people should take up metal detecting”, a great deal of hostility towards the hobby still exists, mainly from the old guard who have not let up on their determination to see all metal detecting under strict archaeological control.