Metal Detecting In Virginia?
You Should Know The Law

Metal detecting in Virginia follows the ARPA (Archeological Resources Preservation Act).

The link below explains ARPA and some of the problems people face who break this law.

Be sure and read through the entire page.

Even though ARPA does not specifically mention "metal detecting", you need to understand what ARPA says about digging artifacts.

Pay particular attention to the section of stories that have been related to me about what happens when individuals break these laws.


Virginia is one of the most difficult areas to metal detect in. One of the reasons is due to the fact of the many Civil War battlegrounds that exist there.

Even though some are preserved historical sites that are off limits to metal detecting, there have been many cases where dirtbag, metal detectorists, have willingly broke the laws by sneaking onto these sites, and then being dumb enough to get caught.

This is one of the reasons why Virginia has such difficult laws.

Below is a brief explanation of Virginia law regarding artifacts and relics.

Code Book: Code of Virginia Citation: §10.1-2302 Section Title: Virginia Antiquities Act: permit required to conduct field investigations; ownership of objects of antiquity; penalty

Metal Detecting A Cellar Hole In The East

Metal Detecting In Virginia
A Summary Of The Law


Requires a permit from the Director of the Department of Historic Resources for any person to conduct field investigations, explorations, or recovery operations involving the removal, destruction or disturbance of any object of antiquity on state-controlled land or on a state archeological site or zone. Retains exclusive title to all objects of antiquity recovered from state-controlled land within the commonwealth, unless such objects are released by the director. Retains title with the land owner to some or all objects of antiquity recovered from state archeological sites not located on state-controlled land. Directs that all field investigations, explorations, or recovery operations undertaken pursuant to a permit issued under this section shall be carried out under the general supervision of the director. Requires the written approval of any state agency if such field investigation as described in an application for a permit is likely to interfere with an activity of the agency. Declares that any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.

Code Book: Code of Virginia Citation: §10.1-2306 Section Title: Virginia Antiquities Act: violations; penalties


Declares it to be unlawful and punishable as a class 1 misdemeanor for any person intentionally to deface, damage, destroy, displace, disturb, or remove any object of antiquity on any designated state archeological site or state-controlled land.

To keep this law stuff as simple as possible;

If you are metal detecting in Virginia, especially on land that is not privately owned,

do not dig anything that you believe is an artifact, or anything that is older than ugh 100 years.

If you want to detect on private property, then be sure you get written permission from the landowner.

For detecting in Virginia, town, village and city parks, you'll need to check with those local officials.

Here is a page with information regarding the Antiquities Act. You should take time to familiarize yourself with this law.

I cannot be responsible for any outdated laws from the time of this posting.

My home page is all about metal detecting in eastern ghost towns.

Have you been metal detecting in Virginia ghost towns?

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