• NCR Regional Archeology Program

    NCR Regional Archeology Program


Metal Detecting


Advertisement for the television show Diggers.


Relic hunters caught in the act of metal detecting next to a cemetery near Chinn House.

Advertisements such as the one at right can make metal detecting look like treasure hunting and a get-rich-quick scheme. Indeed, some relic hunters argue on blogs, "They've had 100+ years to recover Civil War relics. If they haven't dug them up by now then they're fair game." But beware: while metal detecting is legal on private land with the owner's permission, metal detecting or relic hunting on federal or Indian lands is strictly prohibited. Violators are subject to criminal and civil penalties.

For example, the two individuals below right were caught with metal objects dug up by them with their metal detector. They were illegally digging on federal land next to a cemetery at Benjamin Chinn House in Manassas National Battlefield Park.

The parks of the National Capital Region contain diverse archeological resources, representing over 13,000 years of changing human lifeways and different cultures. These archeological resources are irreplaceable. Once they are damaged or destroyed, they are gone forever.

Unauthorized metal detecting and artifact collecting are strictly forbidden
in all parks and on all other federal property.