A Patron Saint for Metal Detectorists

6th April 2017 — 19 Comments

I have churned the idea around in my head when I’ve been awake and when fitfully sleeping, but I still don’t know how to present this blog post. The idea continues to fascinate, but the structure eludes me. I know it’s going to be a hotchpotch, but I ask that you stick with me as I explore a few possibilities.

We need a Patron Saint of Metal Detecting!  But how do we go about it? First, It may be educational if we knew the name of the Patron Saint of the Internet, and how he was chosen. Perhaps this is a lesson for all detectorists.

Around 1997, down in Apple’s headquarters in Silicon Valley, in Microsoft’s corporate facilities in California and in all parts of the world where Internet whizz-kids worked, schemed and ‘innovated’, there was one burning question. “Isn’t it about time we had a Patron Saint of the Internet?

The movement sprang up mostly among Catholic dot-com workers (as you might expect), who organised a petition – with a suggestion, and sent it to Pope John Paul II. Of course they had thought this through and had someone in mind, Saint Isidore of Seville.

Saint Isidore of Seville

Image: Saint Isidore of Seville | photo by Sacristia mayor de la catedral de Sevilla

There was a small detail that didn’t seem bother the petitioners and that was the fact Isidore popped his clogs in the year 625 or 636 or thereabouts – depending on what version of his life you read – and had never surfed the Web. But what was known is that during his lifetime he had compiled a very large encyclopaedia of existing knowledge called the ‘Etymologiae’, which could be regarded as the world’s first database. The saint was duly nominated for the role by the late Pope John Paul II.

Do you see where I am going with this? Saints are the patrons for particular causes including almost anything you can imagine from sports, to hobbies, to areas of interest in the world around us.

Normally, in the Catholic church, the process to make someone a saint cannot start until at least five years they after death, and you also have to have two confirmed miracles. But is that what sainthood is all about? Do you really have to be dead in order to be a saint? Is there any living person you know whom you’d call a saint?

I’ve thought about this and think that detectorists should have somebody of their own and not shared by other hobbies, pastimes or jobs. Somebody we can appeal to and ask advice after unearthing yet another pice of crap. But there’s the rub. Can you suggest anyone familiar to UK detectorists who might fit the role?

A Few Suggestions 

Picture by JW

My first contender is Dr Roger Bland, formerly a BM curator in the Department of Coins and Medals and was seconded to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport from 1994 to 2003. He was responsible for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a project to record all archaeological objects found by the public in England and Wales, and for the Museum’s operation of the Treasure Act.



Stock picture

Trevor Austin, former General Secretary of the National Council for Metal Detecting (NCMD), until his death in 2016. Trevor worked tirelessly on behalf of the hobby and detectorists and is remembered with great affection.




Picture by JW


David Lindon Lammy FRSA MP is a British Labour Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Tottenham since 2000. When Minister for Culture and at at the launch of the PAS and Treasure Report for 2007, he described metal detectorists as “the unsung heroes of the UK’s heritage.” For that he will always be remembered.



Stock picture

Jim Halliday was a kind, thoughtful man, very modest about his talents as a detectorist and archeologist. Having spent his working life in the building industry he went on to build bridges between metal detectorists and archaeologists long before the start of the PAS. He was a stalwart at The Searcher for many years. Jim died in 2014 and is missed by many, including me.



Picture by JW


BBC4 attracted a lot of attention in February 2014 when it was announced that Mackenzie Crook was filming a comedy series in which he plays a ‘wannabee archaeologist’. The comments on online detecting forums ranged from how the show might be very entertaining and worth watching, to how it would be detrimental to detectorists and the hobby. It’s probably the best thing to have happened to the hobby recently!


The list wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory candidate from the Monster Raving Looney Party. Realistically this blogger has done more with his bitter and abusive remarks to highlight metal detectorists than anyone else I know. I cannot bring myself to mention the name but many of you will know the guy. I include him because of Trump’s insistence that ‘all publicity’ (whether good or bad) is beneficial. He needs a new wig, I reckon!




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19 responses to A Patron Saint for Metal Detectorists

  1. Bruce D Campbhell 6th April 2017 at 6:05 PM

    If your candidate must be recognizable to the UK populous then I suggest Mackenzie Crook.
    I do this for the reason that he is also recognized outside of the UK as well John.
    If you want another suggestion, I suggest whoever came up with the idea of online lost and found sites. those sites are a great resource for those wishing to return an item they found that was obviously a recent drop.

  2. Surely the Saint of the Internet has got to be GOOGLE as every detectorist turns to him at some time? Or maybe Jude the Saint of lost causes?

    • The whole point of this light-hearted post was NOT to share a saint with anyone else.

      I also have a confession to make … the post was inadvertently published before it was finished. I have tried to make changes in layout, but it isn’t working. Have decided just to leave it!

  3. Ok John , Where are the American Nominees

    • I thought I’d made this clear in the text. I’m not qualified anyway!
      I said:

      “Can you suggest anyone familiar to UK detectorists who might fit the role?”

  4. “The list wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory candidate from the Monster Raving Looney Party. ”
    I would guess that our Rhinoceros Party would be the equivalent.. 🙂

  5. This saint has to be” The Eternal Optimist”

  6. John from Ontario (AKA Geobound) 6th April 2017 at 8:10 PM

    I agree with Bruce, I would nominate Mackenzie Crook too…….or possibly Johnny Flynn, but only because of his song.

    John you would have been another one of my choices, but since you’ve already declined I will leave you off the list. LOL….

  7. In my mind the truest gentleman and most helpful person to contribute to metal detecting which I ever met was my great friend Jim Halliday, there was never a bad word from him and it did not matter who you were he made you welcome to his home with your detector finds for identification.
    When he died it was a massive blow and loss to our hobby with his immense knowledge, I learnt a lot from Jim.

  8. Dare I suggest this.
    Catholics have always believed if you want to find a lost item you pray to St Anthony.

    St. Anthony of Padua
    St. Anthony of Padua is one of the Catholic Church’s most popular saints. Saint Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost and stolen articles, was a powerful Franciscan preacher and teacher.

    On the other hand I have to say it’s not always 100% effective even if I have found many what I call treasures.
    If your not happy you can delete this post John.

  9. What about John Lynn, the Norfolk Wolf ?

  10. My vote would go to Jim Halliday! I remember him from the early days of The Searcher Not man of noble birth, nor of fame, but all that he surveyed he mastered!

  11. ” Can you suggest anyone familiar to UK detectorists who might fit the role? ”

    I’m sure the UK detectorists are familiar with someone who fights to keep property open to others here in the U.S. Someone that tries to keep forums alive by bringing reality to bullshit central. Someone who has been kicked off nearly every forum around before they hit rock bottom.

  12. peter walsh ,aka..G.Clooney 7th April 2017 at 4:22 PM

    well if you wanrted a sinner instead ,i,m in that category,Saint hmmm not for me,unless we had a Saint Sinner lol

  13. I’ll put your name on file, Peter!

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