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Metal detectors and archaeological sites

In Finland, the use of a metal detector is usually allowed without a separate permit. However, metal detecting is regulated by various laws and acts. Laws that need to be especially observed when using a metal detector include the Antiquities Act (195/1963), the Lost Articles Act (778/1988), the Criminal Code (1889/39), the Nature Conservation Act (20/1996) and public right of access.

The soil and bodies of water in Finland contain a wealth of different human-made archaeological cultural heritage sites. Of these, ancient monuments are protected under the Antiquities Act.
Under the Antiquities Act, it is prohibited to dig, cover, alter, damage, remove, or in any way disturb an ancient monument without a permission granted in accordance with the Act. According to the Act, an ancient monument also includes the area that is essential for the preservation of the monument. This area around the ancient monument is called the protected area. The law also applies to the protected area.

If metal detecting reveals a previously unknown ancient monument or antiquity, or something assumed to be one, the Antiquities Act states that all digging and other activities must be stopped. The National Board of Antiquities must also be immediately notified of the find.

According to the Antiquities Act, antiquities are artefacts that are at least 100 years old and that do not have a known owner. If such an artefact is found, the finder must immediately contact the National Board of Antiquities and/or deliver the artefact to the National Board of Antiquities or a provincial museum. The artefact must not be cleaned and must remain in the condition it was found in, and the finder must provide information regarding the location where the artefact was found. The location where the artefact was found must be left otherwise untouched if the artefact was found in a swamp, below ground, or if the location shows signs that an ancient monument may exist there.

The wrecks of ships or other vessels, in the sea or in bodies of water, that can be assumed to have sunk over 100 years ago are also preserved under the Antiquities Act. The regulations concerning ancient monuments and antiquities apply to wrecks more than a hundred years old, parts of the wrecks and related artefacts, as applicable.

For more information on ancient monuments and antiquities, other archaeological sites, and instructions on what to do when finding an artefact, please contact the National Board of Antiquities. You can always contact the National Board of Antiquities through the service e-mail address This way, your questions and information about findings will be handled in a centralised manner.

Metal detector enthusiasts at work.
Photo by Päivi Maaranen, National Board of Antiquities
Antiquities, ancient monuments and
metal detectors: an enthusiast’s guide


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Last updated 16.10.2017
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