Can You Metal Detect in a Church or Graveyard?

  • By: Admin
  • Date: January 29, 2024
  • Time to read: 7 min.
Can You Metal Detect in a Church or Graveyard?

So can you metal detect in a church or graveyard? Read on and find out. Because if you’re a metal-detecting enthusiast, you’re likely constantly coming up with new locations to hone your metal-detecting skills. However, you should never be overly anxious with this endeavor because there are, in fact, some limitations when it comes to locations that allow you to metal-detect there.

When it comes to churches and graveyards, it’s understandable why anyone would want to bring a metal detector to those locations and start to explore. That being said, it’s best never to assume that you have permission to go onto these types of properties with your metal detector, especially because most of them are either private property or are restricted in some way.

Metal Detecting in Churches and Other Religious Buildings

Churches, especially very old churches, will wet any metal-detecting enthusiast’s appetite simply because of the possibilities of finding old artifacts and other such treasures. Nevertheless, unless the property belongs to you personally, it is never a good idea to walk onto the premises and start detecting.

Not only can it be a little on the dangerous side, but it can also be illegal to do so. The first thing you should keep in mind is that churches are usually privately owned, and just like private residences, you’ll need the owner’s permission before you go any further.

Can You Metal Detect in a Church or Graveyard?

Of course, it is generally simple to get this permission because in most cases, all you need to do is visit the church office or rectory and speak to whoever is in charge. If you’re curious about what their answer will be, it is usually (1) no, (2) yes, or (3) yes, but with some restrictions.

In fact, even after you receive permission from whoever is in charge, it’s good if you get something in writing before you head out with your trusty metal detector. The church office may already have something that you can fill out and sign, and you should have them make a copy so that you can keep one as well.

You can also create your own document for everyone to sign, and don’t worry because it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are templates all over the Internet, especially on websites that specialize in giving helpful tips to other metal-detecting hobbyists.

Just make sure the document is dated and signed by both parties, and make sure both parties get a copy of the document in the end. If you have one of these documents, go ahead and sign and date it, and have it ready to go before you get to the church office.

For churches that are considered historic properties, you may have to get permission from local or state governmental authorities. Again, you can start by visiting the church office and letting them help you decide what to do next. They will be familiar with all local and state laws, and they can easily point you in the right direction if need be.

But whether the church is a historic property or not, the office of that church can tell you what you need to know before you get started metal-detecting on the grounds.

Metal Detecting in Cemeteries and Graveyards

Believe it or not, there is a difference between a graveyard and a cemetery, and it’s a good idea to know this before getting permission to metal-detect. While it is true that both places are places where people are buried, there are slight differences nonetheless.

Officially, a graveyard is associated with a church and located on church property. Because only people affiliated with that church can be buried there, and because church property is usually limited in size, graveyards tend to be smaller than cemeteries. Graveyards, like the churches they are a part of, are considered private property.

Can You Metal Detect in a Church or Graveyard?

On the other hand, cemeteries are generally larger than graveyards and are not associated with a specific church. In other words, anyone can be buried in a cemetery. Cemeteries charge for their services, of course, but you do not have to belong to a certain church or religion to be buried there.

But just like graveyards, cemeteries are usually privately owned and therefore require permission before you show up with your metal detector in hand. Both graveyards and cemeteries have offices where you can go and talk to someone in charge of things like this, so the office is a great place to start when you need permission to use your metal detector.

Occasionally, a cemetery will be owned by a parent company that is located in another city or state, which means you may have to get permission from them before going any further. This being said, this is extremely rare and most cemeteries only require that you get permission from the people in charge at that particular location only.

In fact, whenever you want to detect in a church or graveyard, it is 99.99% probable that you’ll need to get permission from someone before you use your metal detector on the property, and starting with the office located on that property is the first thing you should do.

Before leaving this topic, it’s also good to mention that some cemeteries are public and not privately owned, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need permission to metal-detect there.

After all, just like beaches and public parks, you cannot always just enter a piece of property and start using your metal detector. Even with public properties, you often need to obtain permission first. In fact, it’s best to go ahead and get that permission and then find out later that it wasn’t necessary than to not get permission and find out later that you needed it.

Why Metal Detect on Church Property or Graveyard?

While coins are some of the most prevalent items found in churches and graveyards, you can often find other relics as well.

Some great places to take your metal detector include along baseboards inside of the church, along the ground outside as close to the church building as possible, around the fence lines along the boundaries of the graveyard, around the tree lines on the property, and around – but not on top of – the graves themselves.

You should always keep in mind that you’re in a place where people are buried, so a little respect is always considered the rule of thumb.

Can You Metal Detect in a Church or Graveyard?

The older the church or graveyard, the more likely it is that you’ll find some unique treasures. The reason you want to avoid getting too close to an actual grave is because it is possible that you could disturb the grave itself without even knowing it.

This is not only morally and ethically unacceptable, but potentially illegal. Furthermore, since you are usually not allowed in cemeteries or graveyards after dark, you’ll have to visit these places during the day, and someone there is bound to see you as you walk along with your metal detector and your digging tool, which can make many of them nervous.

There are also stories about people metal-detecting in graveyards and other people mistakenly thinking they are trying to dig up graves, and some of these people have even been arrested for this mistaken belief.

For these and many other reasons, if you’re in a graveyard or cemetery, stay far away from the graves themselves and concentrate on the other areas of the grounds so that you never have to worry about getting in trouble with the authorities. Better safe than sorry, right?

Another possibility you could experience is an old abandoned graveyard or one that is located in the middle of nowhere, so to speak. But here’s the thing: every piece of property in the world is owned by someone or something, so you should never assume you can just enter the property and metal-detect without getting some type of formal or even informal agreement first.

If you run into this situation, do your due diligence and find out who owns the cemetery so that you dot all of your i’s and cross all of your t’s before going out there with your metal detector.

Can You Metal Detect In A Church Or Graveyard? Some Final Thoughts

To metal detect in a church or graveyard can produce some treasures you weren’t expecting, which brings us to another subject – who officially owns the artifacts you end up finding while you’re on the property?

In some cases, you’ll have to turn them over to the rightful owner of the property, but in most cases, you’ll be able to keep them for yourself.

In either case, this is something you’ll want to ask the owner before you go out there with your metal detector. Let’s face it, if you can’t keep the relics you find, what’s the point?

Can You Metal Detect in a Church or Graveyard?

Metal detecting is a fun hobby, especially in older areas such as churches and graveyards, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow the rules.

So before you ask the question can you metal detect in a church or graveyard, you should be asking can you detect there? Private or public, it is almost certain you’ll need someone’s permission before you enter the property, so even if you think you know the answer, always visit the office located on the property itself and speak with the people in charge so that you’ll know for sure what to do next.

That way, everything “official” will be taken care of and you can relax much more once you finally enter the property. So can you metal detect in a church or graveyard? Only if you do your homework.