Gardai issue warning about use of metal detectors

Members of the public have been reminded that the used of metal detectors to search for archaeological objects is illegal without the proper consent.

It's against the law to engage in general searches for archaeological objects in Ireland using a metal detecting device unless you have received written consent from the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. To do so without such consent places you at risk of prosecution. The onus is on the operator to ensure that a metal detector is used in accordance with the law

a statement from An Garda Siochanna said: “Gardaí wish to draw the public's attention in relation to the rise of illegal metal detecting at preserved monuments and sites of National significance in this jurisdiction. The unregulated and inappropriate use of detection devices causes serious damage to Ireland’s archaeological heritage,”

In 2013 the government issued guidelines in response to growing numbers of reports to the Department of Arts and Culture and the National Museum of Ireland of increasing levels of unauthorised and illegal use of metal detectors, often on important archaeological sites. The legal position in relation to metal detectors is clearly set out in legislation.

The guidelines highlight the potential damage that can result from what many would regard as a harmless hobby and why there is a need for strong and effective statutory controls.

Archaeological objects must be excavated in a structured scientific manner, with careful recording of their association with other objects, structures, features and soil layers. Failure to expertly record the context from which an object has been removed results in an irreplaceable loss of knowledge of the past.