Metal Detecting In Delaware?
You Should Know The Law

If you are metal detecting in Delaware, be sure to follow the State Laws of Antiquities.

Be sure to read through this page. It's important that you understand what is happening in our hobby.

There are federal laws, and possibly city, town, and village laws in Delaware that you need to be aware of.

Do not break the laws. People are getting arrested.

Delaware's law follows the ARPA law of 1906. "The Archaeological Resource Preservation Act." However, a more modern and updated ARPA law was passed in 1979.

Federal ARPA law of 1979. (Archaeological Resource Preservation Act)


Archaeological and Geological Resources


Subchapter II. Archaeological Resources in or on State Lands

5303. Purposes.

(a) The General Assembly finds that:
(1) Archaeological resources in or on state lands are an integral and irreplaceable part of the State's heritage;
(2) Archaeological resources are valued as nonrenewable resources that provide educational, scientific, social and economic benefits for all citizens;
(3) These resources are increasingly endangered because of their commercial attractiveness and the effects of natural forces and human intervention;
(4) Existing state laws do not provide adequate protection to prevent the loss and destruction of these archaeological resources resulting from such causes; and
(5) There is a wealth of archaeological information which has been legally obtained by private individuals for noncommercial purposes and which could voluntarily be made available to professional archaeological institutions to further the educational, scientific, social and economic benefits for all citizens.

Metal Detecting In Delaware? Be Sure You Understand The Law.

(b) The purpose of this subchapter is to secure, for the present and future benefit of the people of Delaware, the protection of archaeological resources which are in or on state lands, including subaqueous lands, to increase awareness and encourage meaningful stewardship of the State's archaeological heritage, and to foster increased cooperation and exchange of information among governmental authorities, the professional archaeological community, and private individuals having collections of archaeological resources and data. (75 Del. Laws, c. 153, § 2.)

5304. Definitions.

(a) "Abandoned shipwreck" means any shipwreck to which title has been voluntarily given up by the owner or by the owner not taking action after a wreck incident to claim title.
(b) "Archaeological investigation" means any surface collection, subsurface tests, excavation, or other activity that results in the disturbance or removal of archaeological resources.

If you are metal detecting in Delaware pay attention to this section.

(c) "Archaeological resource" means any artifact or material remains of past human life or activities which are at least 50 years old and are of archaeological interest, including but not limited to pottery, basketry, whole or fragmentary tools, implements, containers, weapons, weapon projectiles, by-products resulting from manufacture or use of human-made or natural materials, surface or subsurface structures or portions thereof, earthworks, fortifications, ceremonial structures or objects, cooking pits, refuse pits, hearths, kilns, post molds, middens, and shipwrecks; the site, location, or context in which such artifacts or material remains are situated; and any portion or piece of any of the foregoing.
(d) "Department" means the Department of State.
(e) "Director" means the Director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State.
(f) "Division" means the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State.
(g) "Embedded" means firmly affixed in the subaqueous lands such that the use of tools of excavation is required in order to move bottom sediments to gain access to a shipwreck, its cargo and any part thereof, or to any other archaeological resource.
(h) "Historic shipwreck" means a shipwreck that is listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
(i) "National Register of Historic Places" means the nation's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture maintained by the United States National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
(j) "Of archaeological interest" means capable of providing scientific or humanistic understandings of past human behavior, cultural adaptation, and related topics through the application of scientific or scholarly techniques such as controlled observation, contextual measurement, controlled collection, analysis, interpretation and explanation.
(k) "Ordinary high water mark" means, for nontidal waters, the line at which the presence and action of water are so continuous in all ordinary years so as to leave a distinct mark on a bank either by erosion or destruction of terrestrial (nonaquatic) vegetation, or that can be determined by other physical or biological means.
(l) "Person" means an individual, corporation, partnership, trust, institution, association, or any other private entity or any officer or employee, agent, department, or instrumentality of the United States or of any state or political subdivision thereof.

Metal Detecting In Delaware Parks? Check With Local Town Laws.

(m) "Qualified person" means a person meeting the United States Secretary of the Interior's Professional Qualification Standards for Archeology (48 FR 44716; 36 CFR Part 61), as determined by the Director.
(n) "Secretary" means the Secretary of State.
(o) "Shipwreck" means a vessel or wreck, its cargo and other contents.
(p) "State lands" means any lands owned or controlled by the State of Delaware, including subaqueous lands.
(q) "Subaqueous lands" means submerged lands and tidelands.
(r) "Submerged lands" means:

(1) Lands lying below the line of mean low tide in the beds of all tidal waters within the boundaries of the State;
(2) Lands lying below the plane of the ordinary high water mark of nontidal rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, bays and inlets within the boundaries of the State as established by law; and
(3) Specific manmade lakes or ponds as designated by the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Metal Detecting In Delaware? Do Not Pick Up Or Retrieve An Artifact See Below.

(s) "Terrestrial lands" means lands owned or controlled by the State lying above the line of mean low tide.
(t) "Tidelands" means lands lying between the line of mean high water and the line of mean low water. (75 Del. Laws, c. 153, §

If you metal detect in Delaware pay attention to the following statement.

<b>No person may excavate, collect, salvage, recover, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any archaeological resource or its surrounding location or context, located in or on state lands, including subaqueous lands, without first having obtained a permit from the Division. (39 Del. Laws, c. 11, § 2; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 5302; 64 Del. Laws, c. 138, §§ 4-6; 69 Del. Laws, c. 430, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 75 Del. Laws, c. 153, § 2.)</b></I>

Remember, metal detecting in Delaware is okay, however, you just can’t dig any artifact that is one hundred years old.

If you are metal detecting in Delaware, always stay updated with Delaware laws. The laws do change and I cannot be responsible for any new laws.

Here is an organization that works toward securing your rights to metal detect.

Are You Interested In A Metal Detector Or Accessories?

Have you tried metal detecting in Delaware ghost towns?

Metal Detecting In Delaware?
You Should Know The Law

I've written a SPECIAL REPORT that explains how our government, politicians, and beauracracy has stolen Americas lands, and has manipulated land laws to benefit no one but their own arrogance.

This page gives a synopsis of the ARPA law.

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