Metal Detecting and Archaeology Edited by Suzie Thomas, Peter Stone. Book Review

by Dave Sadler

Metal Detecting and Archaeology

Edited by Suzie Thomas and Peter G. Stone

ISBN: Paperback, 9781783272204, June 2017

Boydell Press, Woodbridge, UK,

Actual book information –

A groundbreaking examination of one of the most controversial topics within modern archaeology.

The invention of metal detecting technology during the Second World War allowed the development of a hobby that has traditionally been vilified by archaeologists as an uncontrollable threat to the proper study of the past. This book charts the relationship between archaeologists and metal detectors over the past fifty odd years within an international context. It questions whether the great majority of metal detectors need be seen as a threat or, as some argue, enthusiastic members of the public with a valid and legitimate interest in our shared heritage, charting the expansion of metal detecting as a phenomenon and examining its role within traditional archaeology. A particular strength of the book is its detailed case studies, from South Africa, the USA, Poland and Germany, where metal detectors have worked with, and contributed significantly towards, archaeological understanding and research.

With contributions from key individuals in both the metal detecting and archaeological communities, this publication highlights the need for increased understanding and cooperation and asks a number of questions crucial to the development of a long term relationship between archaeologists and metal detectors. 

PETER G. STONE is 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. He has been interested in the public’s role and interest in archaeology for over twenty-five years and has published widely on this topic, especially with respect to formal and informal education. 

SUZIE THOMAS is lecturer in museum studies at the University of Helsinki.

Metal Detecting and Archaeology – An Archaeology and Metal Detecting magazine review.

Metal Detecting and Archaeology, edited by Suzie Thomas and Peter G. Stone, is a compilation of chapters by 19 authors associated with the “Buried Treasure: Building Bridges” conference held at Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England. The conference was seen as a forum for exploring mutual interests, issues of contention, and the potential for productive collaboration among cultural resource professionals and metal detectorists.

The book explores the subjects throughout England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as visiting other locations in Europe, USA and Africa. As well as discussing important matters such as Treasure troves and the Portable Atiquities Scheme and crosses the eras of the medieval time through to World War 2 battlefields.

I must admit that I was wary of the book until I read it, thinking that the content may lean one way rather than being straight down the middle. But the book shows total unbias, giving credence to how all areas CAN work together to benefit each other as a whole.

The involvement of authors that many people in each field will be recognised by, itself offers a narrative which is easy to grasp, understandable and above all interesting.

Many metal detecting finds of consequence are mentioned and fantastic images appear throughout, including for those interested in older machines, a number of 1970s era metal detectors.

Kudos to all the authors who were involved in the “Buried Treasure: Building Bridges” Conference and especially the editors Suzie Thomas and Peter G. Stone for constructing an academic level work, suitable for all interested readers.

Indeed I am honoured to be aked to review this book by Boydell and Brewer publishers, it is above everything I expected.

The concept of the book and conference, is one of the objectives that the Archaeology and Metal Detecting Magazine exists. I can only strive to achieve the level of success that this book should achieve with this magazine. Building bridges between the Archaeological, Historical and Metal Detecting communities.

Metal Detecting and Archaeology is available from Amazon and all good book sale outlets or via the Boydell and Brewer website.

By Dave Sadler – Editor

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