SITE RESEARCH for Detectorists, Fieldwalkers & Archaeologists


SITE RESEARCH for Detectorists, Fieldwalkers & Archaeologists Find Productive Sites <> Practical Map Reading <> Uncover Local History <> Document & Archive Research <> Working With Aerial Photographs EASY WAYS TO LOCATE MORE SITES & MAKE BETTER FINDS…


Find Productive Sites <> Practical Map Reading <> Uncover Local History <> Document & Archive Research <> Working With Aerial Photographs


Dear fellow metal detectorist,

Now you can quickly learn how to put your metal detector’s search-coil in the right place every time.

If nothing much ever happened where you search, then all you can expect your finds bag to contain is — nothing much.  So to keep bringing home the finds you need to search sites where human activity took place in the past.  But how do you locate such sites?  You could try your local library but, even though librarians are among the most helpful people on the Planet, you can’t go into a library and ask the librarian to find you a productive detecting site.  They just wouldn’t know what to look for.  If you have very deep pockets you could employ a professional researcher but I guess that’s out of the question for most of us.  So, like me, you’ll probably be taking the do-it-yourself approach.  It can often be a daunting task, particularly if you are a novice, to find sources of data of direct use to you in amongst vast archives of material and it takes time, perhaps years, to learn exactly what reference sources are out there.  With one exception, I couldn’t even recommend a comprehensive book on the subject as nearly every “How to Research” book I know of is either well out of date or so academic that you would probably need a language degree to get past the contents page.

The exception is Site Research, which has been written with the express purpose of explaining easy research techniques to find sites for the recovery of coins and artefacts.  If you are metal detecting anywhere in the United Kingdom and interested in improving your finds rate, you need this book, whether you are a beginner or an old-hand, even if you have no previous knowledge of research. It will tell you how to find your library to get started, and then how to carry out research in libraries, archives or on a computer, whether you own one or not.

The book’s 160 pages are profusely illustrated with a range of useful maps, documents, and the finds associated with them. You will be able to read” case studies” and see the results, so you can decide the best form of research to find the type of coins and artefacts, which interest you.

Maps are an important tool for site research so the main types of map available since the 16th century are discussed in detail, including: county maps; Ordnance Survey; town plans; road maps; road, river, canal and railway construction maps; enclosure and tithe maps; estate maps; and sea charts. Just as importantly, you won’t get very far with this type of research if you can’t read a map so I’ve covered practical map reading, including how to locate features which have now vanished on old maps. You will also need to know which maps are available for your area or research topic, and where you can obtain the maps you want to look at; so that’s covered too, including where you can get both Victorian and modern maps for free.

Studying aerial photographs used to be an expensive pastime but now, with the advent of hi-tech digital aerial photography, you can study much of Britain from the air for nothing. This opens up exciting avenues of research where not only can you spot crop-marks but also such features as Roman and medieval farming, ancient routes, or even the positions of unknown Roman villas. Some archaeologists believe that 95% of archaeological sites have yet to be discovered. Discover one today!

Maps and aerial photographs, however, are only half the story; to “flesh out the bones” of your research you should look, even if only briefly, at written local histories. I am sure you will find them fascinating and just one book could suggest hundreds of potential sites, confirm your map and/or aerial photograph research, and help you secure that permission. Wherever you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland there is a guide to the principle local histories in your area.

A guide to the best sources for finding metal detecting sites wouldn’t be complete without the Domesday Book, which covers most of England and paints a fascinating picture of 11th century life, which can be easily used to find fantastic sites. Again, having spent your hard-earned cash on my book, you won’t want to spend a fortune on other books so I’ve covered how to get hold of the information as economically as possible.

Gaining search permission is a thorny subject. Fortunately site research tends to “sell itself” to the point that not only will farmers willing grant permission to your requests but may even give you a bottle of wine! However, in case you need guidance on the best approach, I have included a chapter on gaining search permission.  Once you get involved with site research, like me you will probably be finding coins and objects that have to be reported under the Treasure Act (or Treasure Trove in Scotland). I don’t know what the record is for a single finder in England and Wales, but I have had to report nine such finds so far. The chapter “Living with the Treasure Act” fully explains the procedures and my experiences with the Act.

I know of no other book that will guide you swiftly to all the best sources for finding interesting and productive sites for metal detecting, with the added bonus of easily gained permission. It will serve you well for years to come.


“I have just received my copy of the new book Site Research by David Villanueva. This book is a cracker for all of us as the longer that I am in this hobby the more I have a thirst for more data. The new folks to the hobby will find it’s a way to advance their knowledge in a short time. The illustrations are on a par with Benet’s [a superb colour finds catalogue] and there is an insight when it comes to doing the homework prior to going on a dig is a must. Computer sites for data are also included and pictures of old maps from centuries past are very interesting. Well I think that I have said enough to wet the appetite of those who want to get the best out of the hobby. It certainly won’t break the bank and there is always the Xmas list.” JBM, Bristol, UK


  •  Find productive sites
  • Save time and effort
  • Rapid Internet research
  • Everything you need to know about maps, plans and charts
  • Practical map reading
  • Uncover local history
  • Document & archive research simplified
  • Working with aerial photographs
  • Easy ways to gain search permission
  • How to protect yourself and your landowner friends when you find treasure


Greenlight Publishing, 2006, Soft cover, 250mm x 190mm, 160 pages, ISBN 1 897738 285 £19.97

“A UK book but applicable to anywhere in the World”, Andy Sabisch in The Treasure Hunter’s Handbook

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