Can I Metal Detect in Woods?

Yes, you can metal detect in woods! Woods and forest areas are excellent places to metal detect, as they are well-used paths littered with treasures and relics that have been dropped over the years.

Research is key to have the most success when metal detecting in woods (we have some tips on this coming up)!

You will need to take care when metal detecting in woods that you aren’t on private land. If the woods are public owned land (check this beforehand), then you are free to metal detect with ease.

However, if it’s private land, you will need to check before you start looking for treasure! 

You will need to obtain permission from the landowner if the land has access rights for the public. If there are footpaths, beaches, or the land is council-owned, then you need permission beforehand!

It’s best to avoid it and ensure you are metal detecting where you are allowed! Failure to have permission or have that can land you in hot water if you are caught.

Any land owned by the Woodland Trust does not allow for metal detecting unless you have an Archaeological Research Agreement.

These agreements are only available to those who work with a National Trust Archaeologist to produce their Research Design, meaning that it’s a no-go for most enthusiasts! 

Can I metal detect in the New Forest?

No, you cannot metal detect in the New Forest. Their website clearly states that metal detecting is not allowed on any of the New Forest District Council’s land. There is a list of prohibited activities on the land, which you can read about on their website here. 

You can get in serious trouble if you are caught metal detecting in the New Forest. First offenders might get away with a warning, but fines or contact with the police could happen if you continue to break the rules.

We would say it’s best to avoid metal detecting in the New Forest to avoid these fines!

There are, however, people that do metal detectors in the New Forest. Whether they are sneakier than us or more fearless, people do it and have suggested they don’t get caught.

Whether you determine this is a risk worth taking is up to you, but us sticklers for the rules wouldn’t risk it!

All it takes is one person to report you to 101 or a ranger to catch you, and it’s curtains for you and your metal detector! Suppose you are conducting your metal detecting for work or a university project.

In that case, it might be worth contacting customer services for New Forest District Council to see if a permit could be arranged. There isn’t much information online about whether they allow it, but it’s worth a shot!

You could also speak to your employer or university supervisor to see if they have more information about this. 

How do you research land for metal detecting?

There are a few ways to research land for metal detecting, most of which are incredibly easy to do! Start online, checking metal detecting forums to see where other people have been and had success. You can often find old town records or maps that can help you find locations to go. 

Our landscape has changed dramatically over the years, and old maps will show where towns, mines or other treasure troves were previously located.

These locations can potentially have lots of potential for metal detecting; just be sure to check that metal detecting is allowed there before you set off! 

As well as old maps, check Google Maps too. Switching the map to satellite mode will reveal old markings that can only be seen from above. The marks of old railroads or ball diamonds will indicate there’s potential for metal detecting. 

Parts of the UK are covered with remnants from our industrious past, which can be rife places to detect metal!

Mountains, hillsides, and old collieries can be fantastic locations, but again check you have permission before heading off! If you have a drone, you can also fly it over potential areas to find some metal detecting spots.

Your local library or history centre or museum is another fantastic place to check. Most libraries will feature a local history section or specialised person you can speak to. Here you can find old maps or books on metal detecting in your local area.

They might also have access to the National Archives, which can be a useful place to explore. You can find relevant records to your area or any area and plan your metal detecting trip!

Another invaluable research option is to talk to people. Join metal detecting groups on social media, or speak to someone with a metal detector on a beach or path.

Usually, they will be experienced and provide you with fantastic and useful information about your local area. Utilise this information to plan your next trip; you never know where it could take you!

Where can I detect metal in Woods? 

Paths are an excellent place to metal detect in woods. You can run your detector along the sides of the path where they meet the woodland and usually find some treasure!

It might have dropped from dog walkers or hikers pockets or have been there for years waiting to be discovered! Depending on what the woods were used for before or what the land previously was, there is no telling what you could find. 

It’s also worth running your metal detector around the bottom of trees. Items can get dropped here or even buried there and be fruitful locations for metal detecting! Birds might drop items from their nests that will land at the bottom of the tree and are waiting to be discovered! 

Larger trees can also be treasure troves. People are more likely to shelter under large trees, meaning items will likely be dropped or left behind and are waiting for you! It’s also worth checking by trees that have been chopped or fallen; just take care when doing so!

Most parts of the woods are excellent places to metal detect. Ensure that you are safe at all times and take extra care if you are near water. You don’t want to slip and fall in, especially if you are in the woods alone. 



Written by Gavin Bowler

Keen history and blogging enthusiast. I love metal detecting. Read more of Gavin's articles.