Archaeologists Using Metal Detection and Dectorists in Site Research

Montpelier Metal Detecting Programs

James Madison's Montpelier has begun a set of outreach programs geared towards engaging metal detectorists with the goals and values of archaeological research and preservation. The first of these programs began in March 2012 and featured 12 metal detectorists who spent a week at Montpelier learning how to use a metal detector as a remote sensing device.  During this week, these detectorists worked one-on-one with Montpelier's professional archaeology staff on surveying a section of the properties woodlots for archaeological sites.  As a result of this gridded survey, archaeologists located four previously unknown slave quarters and an area of woods originally zoned for timber thinning is now under protection.  Another part of the program was conducting survey to define the concentrations of nails and metal objects at a known slave site (by only marking hits). The results from this survey guided the lacement of excavation units in the summer of 2012 as part of a NEH-funded study of the Montpelier enslaved community.

This program has been vetted by the Society for Historical Archaeology

Metal Detector Use in Archaeology: An Introduction

by Melissa Conner and Douglas D. Scott, in Historical Archaeology, 1998, Vol. 32. No. 4, page 63-82. (Order at:

Bibliography of Kansas Archaeology Projects Assisted by Volunteers Using Metal Detectors

This bibliography compiled by Virginia Wulfkuhle and Martin Stein lists articles and reports of several Kansas projects completed with the assistance of volunteers using metal detectors. Included are reports of research at the sites of Mine Creek Battlefield, the Hollenburg Pony Express Station, Fort Ellsworth, Fort Harker, and the Santa Fe Trail.

The Battle of Monmouth: The Archaeology of Molly Pitcher, the Royal Highlanders, and Colonel Cilley's Light Infantry

This report by Daniel Sivilich and Garry Wheeler Stone describes metal detecting research done at the site of The Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey -- one of the longest and largest land battles of the Revolutionary War. Members of the Battlefield Restoration and Archaeological Volunteer Organization (BRAVO) located the battle locations using metal detectors to pinpoint artifacts. A computer database program written by Dan Sivilich was used to generate an artifact distribution map illustrating the residues of a portion of the battle. (This program, called Artitrak, collects and sorts the data which is then passed on to ArcView, a Geographical Information System [GIS] program that provides a map of the artifacts superimposed over an aerial photographc.) Daniel Sivilich is the founder and President of BRAVO. Garry Wheeler Stone is the historian for Monmouth Battlefield State Park (Sate of New Jersey) and is past president of the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA). BRAVO members began conducing archaeological surveys with Stone in 1990.

updated 3/12/2014