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Tips on how to gain permission to dig.

Article about: Hey guys, Firstly I would just like to introduce myself to this area of the forum. I live in the Midlands (it appears there are a few of us) and have recently decided to get into this fascin

  1. #1

    Default Tips on how to gain permission to dig.

    Hey guys,

    Firstly I would just like to introduce myself to this area of the forum. I live in the Midlands (it appears there are a few of us) and have recently decided to get into this fascinating hobby.

    If anyone would care to offer any advice on the best approach to securing adequate permission to dig a site I would be most grateful.

    The reason I ask is that a few months ago myself and a friend visited a WW2 airfield that is now mostly farmland. We happened to meet the farmer whilst walking the perimeter who was extremely friendly and he allowed us to explore the site.

    After some research and obtaining the plans for the airfield we decided to take another visit to explore further and to hopefully ask the same farmer about possibly digging. We decided to take a look at an area south of the main airfield site where accommodation was located where we came across a field which had a number of ruined wartime buildings in it.

    Perhaps foolishly (and in some part due to the friendly meeting between the previous farmer) we hopped over the gate and started to look around. Unfortunately a different farmer (the opposite in fact) who must have been the landowner of this particular field saw us and was obviously very upset at the site of two blokes poking around his field.

    I tried to explain the situation but he was having none of it and we got a right telling off!

    Since then I have purchased a metal detector and am keen to get started but I obviously want to ensure that we do things properly and get permission and avoid angry farmers. How do you guys go about finding out who owns the land and asking to dig and what do you think is the best approach?

    Can you just turn up and hope to bump into somebody, knock on doors or do you try and contact people before hand? Do you always even ask for permission or are there sometimes places that you can dig where permission isn't required?

    I would be really interested to know!

    Thanks in advance

    Ash

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tips on how to gain permission to dig.

    I have only dug on 2 places, one of them was in a field where a FW-190 A-3 crashed when it was shot down by friendly fire. My father and i know the owner of the field and she was very cooperative, and i talked to a number of people who saw the plane go down, and people who knew what happened to most of the parts. I got permission from the landowner and i have found the exact position the plane crashed. I also have another location where parts have apparently been hidden between some big rocks(I will find out if that is true next summer).

    And the second place was a army/airforce dump, i am not sure if it the land is owned by anyone at all, but it is a popular area for hiking, and since there is barbed wire, broken glass and other dangerous items, i am not only preserving the history, but i am also removing things people might hurt themselves on.

    I would like to hear other tips on how to get permissions to dig, the problem i have is not to get the permission, but to find places to dig(Hard to find out that kind of information).
    Best Regards

    Vegard T.
    -------------------------------
    Looking for militaria from 38. Batterie, Heeres Küsten Artillerie Regiment 977, also from 31, 32 and 36. Batterie.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Tips on how to gain permission to dig.

    An interesting question.

    The best thing to do is firstly research a site. Get on google earth, see if you can ID the site and satisfy yourself it is likely to have 'finds'. Check out the 'helpful tips' sticky post at the top of this forum.

    Next is to visit the site to have a look round and see if you can access likely areas. Under NO circumstances go onto the land or search for stuff on this visit. You're just seeing if you can physically access the area first, and get to sites you've ID'd through research. At this stage you should be looking for access roads and farm tracks and also seeing if any buildings or foundations still exist. If the area has a modern use or is close to a town, find somewhere else. You'll spend 20 visits clearing modern crap before you so much as sniff a WW2 relic.

    Make sure that when you do this visit you dress smartly. I don't mean suit and tie, but don't go in your combats and army boots.....You're trying to create a good impression !

    Now go find the farm house that looks closest and knock on the door. If they aren't the landowner, ask them who is ! Once you find the landowner get the suspicion of 'what the hell do they want' out the way quickly by explaining you're interested in the airfield. Doing this face to face get's a much MUCH better response than on the phone or via e-mail. Remember you basically want to go in this guys garden and dig his lawn up. If you think of it like that rather than 'pfff....it's only a field for godsake' you'll do a lot better. Explain what you want to do, how and what you will do to minimise damage to his property. Also tell him you'll ask permission every time you go and not just once, so he always knows when you're going to be around. Also tell him you'll show him all your finds. Describing yourself as an 'amateur historian' is much better than 'relic hunter'.

    If he/she says no, move on and find another location. If they give permission make sure you stick to what you promised.

    I find it useful to keep the relationship good by giving the land owner a couple of relics from each visit. I also send the land owner a picture of ALL items found on the day. You don't need to get to the stage of inviting them round for dinner, but be civil and well mannered.

    There are very few places that don't 'belong' to someone somewhere. Much of the farmland is owned by rich landowners and tended by tenant farmers. BEWARE THESE !! A tenant farmer cannot grant you legal access to the land as it isn't his. This happened to me and the gamekeeper that challenged me didn't give two hoots that the farmer had given me permission and booted me off the land. It's only then I realised the farmer was a tenant !

    Beaches are the best bet for 'no permission' searching but beware that some beaches are privately owned and they can get rather upset about you digging up their beach. The only truly 'permission free' land is the old style 'common' land. However, much of that is now owned privately and has limits on it's use and access. Some people believe council owned land is 'permission free' but I am not sure myself.

    In summary, if you can't find the landowner move on. England was covered with literally hundreds of airbases and POW camps and troop camps. You'll eventually find one you can access with all the right permissions.

    Happy hunting !

    Steve T

  4. #4
    ?

    Default Re: Tips on how to gain permission to dig.

    Nicely put Steve, that just about covers it all mate.

    Ian D

  5. #5

    Default Re: Tips on how to gain permission to dig.

    Very good Steve, the house closest to the field is usually the owner of the land. That was the case with the plane.
    Best Regards

    Vegard T.
    -------------------------------
    Looking for militaria from 38. Batterie, Heeres Küsten Artillerie Regiment 977, also from 31, 32 and 36. Batterie.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Tips on how to gain permission to dig.

    Thanks for the response guys!

    Steve - Really appreciate you taking the time to put together that reply mate, as Ian points out that covers everything!

    I will give those methods a go and let you know how I get on, Im hoping to share some finds on here soon.

    Ash

  7. #7

    Default Re: Tips on how to gain permission to dig.

    Ashleigh

    No problems mate

    Good luck

    Steve T

  8. #8

    Default Re: Tips on how to gain permission to dig.

    Steve
    All your replies to some very interesting questions are so helpful
    You were kind enough to reply to my first post earlier this week and the stuff Ive read posted by yourself since then has been so helpful in giving me a decent basic understanding of where to start. Something I have been interested in all my life and yet its taken me over 40 years to get round to doing much about getting actively involved
    A big thank you
    Phil

  9. #9

    Default Re: Tips on how to gain permission to dig.

    Why thank you Phil. That is very kind of you and means a lot. I am only too pleased to help other people

    Steve T

    PS If it's any consolation, it took me 35 years to get around to digging up relics. In the past 3 years I've filled over half the garage with the stuff

  10. #10

    Default Re: Tips on how to gain permission to dig.

    I second that comment!

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