Backyard Metal Detecting Finds: Treasure Hunting for the Homeowner

  • By: Chris
  • Last updated on August 6, 2022
  • Time to read: 14 min.
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Do you love the thrill of metal detecting? Have you ever wondered what sorts of treasures you might find in your backyard or garden?

Or, maybe you’ve found a treasure just ten feet from your backyard? What do you do now?

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common metal detecting finds that homeowners might find (and have found!).

You’ll also learn how to go about detecting in your backyard. What kind of tools do you need, where do you start, and the most important topic of all.

Can you keep the treasure you find in your backyard?

So, if you’re excited and can’t wait to get started, let’s you and I talk some backyard metal detecting!

Metal Detecting in Your Backyard: Starting Close to Home

“Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure: where your treasure, there your heart; where your heart, there your happiness.”

Saint Augustine

I love this quote. You might find it cheesy, but it really is true.

The things that we love and enjoy often bring us the most happiness.

And what could be more pleasurable than metal detecting in your own backyard? Well, finding a hoard of silver might be.

But for me, it’s the thrill of the hunt. It’s the possibility of finding something amazing and valuable that keeps me hunting until my wife reminds me what time it is.

So that’s why it’s so dark.

lost track of time metal detecting
Time flies when you’re having fun, right?

I also love the history that metal detecting can uncover.

You never know what you might find when you start metal detecting in your backyard!

But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s answer some basic questions.

This article will cover 2 related topics. Metal detecting finds and metal detecting in your backyard.

Feel free to use the table of contents above to skip around. Or stick around and read through.

It never hurts to be informed!

What Are the Most Common Metal Detector Finds?

You might be dreaming of buried pirate gold or a long-ago safe filled with forgotten cash.

And who doesn’t?

Unfortunately, I’m going to burst that bubble.

The vast majority of metal detecting finds are not going to be anything close to that exciting.

most common metal detector finds
Some of the most common metal detecting finds aren’t going to be the most exciting or valuable.

Sorry, I had to be the one to tell you.

But it’s true!

However, that doesn’t mean metal detecting is a waste of time.

Even if your finds are mostly old nails and bottle caps, it’s still a fun hobby.

And you never know when you might find something special (more on that later).

Here’s the truth. These are some of the most common metal detecting finds you’ll be sure to come across.

  • Old and new coins
  • Jewelry
  • Keys
  • Pull-tabs
  • Flatware (forks, knives, spoons)
  • Relics (buttons, badges, etc)
  • Aluminum or tin cans
  • Glass
  • Bottle caps
  • Nails
  • And toys

Some of these metal detecting finds might be worth a little bit of money.

For instance, you might find an old toy that’s valuable to a collector.

find a buried key to possible treasure
Don’t judge a book by its cover. A seemingly boring find could lead to some excitement.

Or you might find an old key that opens a long-forgotten lock.

But most of your finds are going to be junk.

And that’s okay! You can’t expect to always dig up the biggest metal detector finds in history. You’ll just set yourself up for disappointment.

And for what it’s worth, junk metals can be recycled and turned into something new. Or maybe it’s cool enough to add to your collection.

Show it off to your friends.

And for those of you thinking that you’ll just adjust the discrimination on your metal detector to avoid finding nails and other junk.

I have some bad news.

Some of the junk you want to avoid sounds an awful lot like the good stuff.

misleading tones from your metal detector
Don’t be fooled. Practice and better understand the tones your metal detector outputs.

For example, the little pull-tabs you rip off soda cans? If you aren’t familiar with the subtle changes in tone, these can easily be mistaken for a half dollar, ancient coins, or even gold.

So, unless you’re an experienced Digger, you’re going to have to sift through the junk from time to time.

Weird Metal Detecting Finds

Even though most uncovered finds are going to be junk, that doesn’t mean you won’t find some weird stuff.

Sometimes cool and weird. But mostly weird.

You may have found some strange bits and pieces on your own hunts, as I have.

But if you want a little laugh or even some mild shock, read on.

These 6 weird metal detecting finds are sure to surprise some of you.

An Intact Ford Model T

buried intact ford model t
Can you imagine digging out an entire car? Not to mention a classic like the Model T.

You’ve probably already heard this one before. But if you haven’t, this is a good one.

The year was 1966 and a man living in Detroit, Michigan was using a metal detector to hunt in his own backyard.

His signals began to fire and soon he was striking the dirt with a shovel in hand.

But as he began to dig, he realized it was a much bigger find than old piping or lost coin.

It turned out to be an intact 1913 Ford Model T!

The car had been buried in his backyard since 1926.

The previous homeowner who buried his car must have had some real trust issues.

A Flash Grenade

You heard that right. I said a flash grenade.

flash bang grenade
You shouldn’t ever be surprised when it comes to the wonders you will uncover.

Leigh Webber is a popular YouTuber. His channel, Bondi Treasure Hunter, records his adventures in metal detecting and magnet fishing.

In 2021, Leigh was magnet fishing in the Birmingham Canal Navigations and fished out a real-life flash grenade.

The word “BANG” was stenciled on the side.

Needless to say, I’d be a little nervous. Wouldn’t you?

Fortunately, it had already been detonated.

It’s certainly not the weirdest thing Leigh Webber has ever seen, but it’s enough to give you a jump.

For more detail on his interesting hoard recovered that day, follow the search the metal detectorist took part in. The related video is below.

Space Iron Aged a Couple of Million Years

This next best, yet weird find is a little out of this world.

David Eichner was out metal detecting an old Civil War battlefield. He was determined to land his first big discovery.

Whether you’re a pro or an amateur treasure hunter, long lost battlefields are a perfect location to search for a bit of history.

Using his Bounty Hunter metal detector, he picked up on a signal 9 inches below.

Or at least that is what his detector told him.

It took him 24 inches to discover his find.

digging 24 inches deep
Don’t get discouraged if you have to dig a little deeper than what your machine tells you.

As he dug, he imagined a hoard of valuable coins, a gold or silver ring, or at least a half dollar.

At the end of his search, this metal detectorist found a 2-inch piece of iron.

David wasn’t so sure what it was. He had an archeologist check it out.

Low and behold it was iron. But not any old iron.

This was iron from outer space, possibly from the other side of the galaxy.

This buried hoard was found to be millions of years old when it struck planet Earth.

Good for Dave! He got one of the best metal detecting finds he could hope for. A collector’s item older than the oldest coin.

And a good story to boot!

A Penis Pendant

buried silver penis pendant
This find definitely takes the cake in my opinion. What do you think?

Speaking of a good story. Are you ready for this?

Next up on the weird finds list comes from metal detectorist, Wendy Thompson.

The piece of silver she found is certainly unique.

While she was hunting on a property in Higham, a parish in Kent, England, she recovered a buried silver penis pendant.

You heard me.

This search took place on New Years’ Eve 2020 in a yard like any other.

Believe it or not, finding a penis pendant isn’t so uncommon. The fact that this jewelry was silver and not bronze was the fascinating part.

It was the first silver amulet of its kind to ever be found in England.

Due to that fact and the jewelry dating back to sometime around the Roman era, it was declared a piece of treasure.

roman era jewelry
I don’t know much about jewelry, but you and I sure know that silver is a keeper of a find.

Because of the detecting laws in the UK, Wendy will have to offer up this piece of silver jewelry to the British Museum.

Or some other national museum, depending on where the item was found.

A Live Bomb


This weird find should go as a warning to amateur detectorists. Hunting with their metal detectors for coins, a gold nugget, and any manner of hoard lost to the soil.

You know the adventure and thrill you get when scanning the yard or some other property.

You adjust your controls and zero in on any signal close to a ring or pirate gold you happen across.

But before you carelessly start digging up your find, be mindful of the goodies that await.

On March 3, 2022, at Somerset beach in the UK, a man who chose to remain anonymous, set out to search the beach for any lost or buried finds.

live bomb found metal detecting
That’s a scary thing to uncover. Always be careful when digging up your target.

This metal detectorist found what he thought was a bomb, buried in the sand.

After he called the police, the bomb squad inspected the buried find.

Later that day, the authorities detonated the bomb safely.

The police suspect this was just a dummy device used in a training.

Regardless, that is one of the weirdest (and most frightening) things you could uncover with your metal detectors.

A Gold Ring Belonging to The Sheriff of Nottingham (not a joke)

You like the story of Robin Hood, right?

I know I do. Ever since I was a kid.

Stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Always eluding the nefarious Sheriff of Nottingham.

Well, guess what?

gold ring of sheriff of nottingham
A signet ring was used to seal important messages with wax. Each design was meant to identify the sender with their mark.

Did you know the Sheriff of Nottingham is and was a real person?

I’m serious!

If you’re from the UK, you probably already know this. But we Yankee folk didn’t.

Actually, I didn’t. Not sure about the rest of you.

Thanks to our metal detectorist brethren, a local man from Nottingham discovered a gold ring in July 2020.

The ring was found in the yard of a farmer and later examined by the British Museum.

The ring is a 350-year-old signet ring.

It displays the coat of arms for the Jenison family, who have a long history in Nottingham.

Sir Matthew Jenison served as the High Sheriff of Nottingham from 1683 to 1684.

And in case you’re wondering, the legend seems to align with the story. Sir Jenison was apparently a dastardly fellow and gained his wealth from others’ fortunes.

Sir Jenison was not a good man
The story goes that the real Sheriff of Nottingham gained his fortune by keeping the unclaimed valuables of other families.

In fact, some of that fortune was discovered in the same location as the ring.

A buried hoard of Civil War silver coins.

Doesn’t it give you a new perspective on the Robin Hood movies?

Metal Detecting in Your Backyard

You may have had your fill with the backyard finds of others.

Are you ready to find your own buried hoard?

Well, the best place to start is your own property.

You never know what history there is to search for in your back or front yard.

Was your house built on top of an old settlement?

Do you often find pieces of silver coins, Indian head pennies, a gold ring, or the largest gold nugget you’ve ever seen in person?

do you find pieces of treasure in your yard
If you regularly find knick-knacks and coins in your yard, it could mean there are more fun things to explore.

These could be clues telling you to keep digging.

So grab your metal detector and head out to the yard. We’ve got all the details you need to find your own hoard of silver and gold coins.

How Do You Find Buried Treasure in Your Backyard?

An amateur treasure hunter knows there are a few things you need to have before you go on your expedition.

You’ll need your metal detector, of course. But that’s not all.

You’ll also need a good spade or shovel, a small digger tool, and a container or pouch to put your findings in.

For some of my own recommendations, head over to my breakdown of the best accessories to have with you on a hunt.

You’ll also want to wear comfortable clothing and closed-toe shoes.

And finally, you’ll need permission from the homeowner if you’re not hunting on your own property.

Rentals don’t count.

rental property doesn't mean you can metal detect there
Know the rules of your area. And if you rent a property, you’ll have to get permission to search first.

With all that out of the way, let’s get started!

I’m going to assume that you know how to operate your metal detector.

Do you understand all the services and features your metal detector offers? Do the different search modes make sense to you?

If not, be sure to read your manual. Also, read my beginner’s guide. I know sometimes those manuals can be hard to comprehend.

Now, you have everything you need. Your device is in hand and powered on.

What’s next?

Where Do You Search for Treasure in Your Backyard?

The most common places to look for treasure in your backyard are in areas that were once populated.

once populated area in backyard
The more you know about the land, the better prepared you’ll be.

This could be an old homestead or a campsite.

Now, if you have a smaller plot of land and your yard covers no more than an acre, you’ll want to focus on areas closer to the house.

You’ll likely have more success if you know the history of your home.

If you don’t, don’t worry.

You can always ask your neighbors or the previous owner if they know of any stories or history about the property.

Some other options include running a title search, asking local historians, or reading up on public records.

You can also look for physical signs of history like old wells, outbuildings, and cellars. These are all potential places where people may have hidden their valuables.

Even trees showing years of growth can be a gold mine for amateur detectorists.

Wherever people have gathered throughout history, there’s a potential for buried valuables or relics.

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, look for things like depressions in the ground or changes in elevation.

These could be signs that there was once a structure there.

clues of old structures in your yard
Follow the clues that history has left behind. Put yourself in the shoes of an explorer or historian.

All of these tips work for large or small properties.

But if you do have a lot of land, another good place to start is near water.

This could be a river, lake, or even just a small stream.

People have been known to lose their valuables in these places.

So if you’re feeling lucky, start your search near the water’s edge.

Your best bet is to consider all these factors and make a decision to start wherever you have the best chance to find your own hoard.

Steps to Finding Buried Treasure in Your Yard

So, you have your tools. You know the history. You’ve picked a spot in the yard to start an amateur treasure hunt.

Now, follow these 5 steps to search from here, to the other side of your property line.

1. Ground balance your metal detector and adjust your search mode to the intended target.

If any of your settings need to be tuned for mineralization, do that now.

2. Sweep your search coil a few inches above the ground. Use a steady and balanced pace.

Moving too quickly or too slowly without the right settings will only hurt your efforts. You should keep moving forward while still sweeping until your device picks up on a signal.

3. If you get a signal and you determine it’s a target worth examining, get out your digger or shovel and dig it out.

When digging into your soil, dig in a circular shape to create what is known as a plug. This lets you replace the soil afterward with no signs of serious damage.

4. Use your pinpointer to help your search in the dirt.

This will save so much time while you uncover any gold ring, silver hoard, or half dollar.

5. Replace the plug in the ground and continue searching in a grid pattern.

No matter if you find something of value or not with each signal, your key to success is patience, technique, and consistency. Using a grid pattern helps ensure you don’t miss an inch of your property.

By following these steps, you’re sure to find some success in your backyard scavenger hunt.

Even if all you find is some old nails or lost keys, it’s still a fun way to spend an afternoon with family or friends.

And who knows?

You might just find something valuable after all.

FAQs About Your Metal Detector and Hunting in Your Backyard

FAQS about metal detectors in backyard
Asking more questions is a good thing. It helps you find more success on a hunt.

Now that you understand a little bit more about dirt fishing in your backyard, let’s answer some common questions you may already be thinking of.

Can You Keep Treasure You Find in Your Backyard?

This is a common question with a complicated answer.

It depends on the country, state, and even city you live in.

There are laws in some places that protect historical artifacts. Other cities or states require you to find the owner of the object/money.

If you can’t, you might be obligated to turn it in to the local authorities.

This means that even if you find something old, you may not be able to keep it.

Before you start digging up your yard looking for valuables, make sure you understand the laws in your area.

You don’t want to get in trouble for taking something that doesn’t belong to you.

Can You Keep Treasure You Find in Your Backyard
Keeping your findings can be a complicated issue. Research the laws in your state and city. The rules vary from place to place.

As an example, if you live in the state of Georgia in the US, good for you! The Georgia state law has clarified that any treasure found belongs to the detectorist that dug it up.

While this is great, this isn’t common practice.

What Is the Treasure Trove Rule?

The Treasure Trove rule is a mandate that states what happens to objects of value that are found on someone’s property.

Specifically, the Treasure Trove rule states that the finding of the object(s) has the right to keep it unless the original owner steps forward to claim it.

This rule is not upheld everywhere. Some US states abide by this law while others don’t.

In the UK, there is a variation of this rule in place. It says that anything of value found on someone’s land must be reported to the local coroner.

Do You Have to Have Permission to Metal Detect in Your Yard?

Do You Have to Have Permission to Metal Detect in Your Yard
You should always know when you have to ask permission. Don’t just assume. You may regret it later.

If you own the property you are metal detecting on, you do not need to seek permission…mostly.

If your home is also considered to be on a historical site, a Native American burial ground, or has any archeological significance, you cannot metal detect in your yard.

If you simply rent the land, you must seek out permission from the recognized owner to use your metal detector.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed reading this article about metal detecting in your backyard.

There’s a lot of really great stuff people have found over the years.

You could be next. There are pieces of history buried everywhere in this world.

Just remember, the most important thing is to have fun and be safe.

And make sure you understand the laws in your area before you start digging.

You don’t want to get too excited about finding a gold hoard with your metal detector. And then learn you can’t keep it.

Finally, always fill any holes you make when searching for forgotten treasure. Your HOA will thank you.

Until next time Diggers!

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