Occasionally, you hear a story in the news about some lucky person who stumbled across a cache of buried gold or some valuable historical artefacts. Often, these finds can be sold to museums or organisations for a tidy sum, which is a dream come true for those who discover them.
Even if there's no monetary value, the idea of finding buried treasure has a romantic appeal for many people, and the discovery of long-lost historical items is certainly interesting.
You might have found yourself wondering if the newsworthy discoveries were really just down to luck, or whether there's more to it than that. And there are certainly some ways you can increase the chances of making a discovery.
Do some research
Taking the time to do this first step thoroughly can throw up some promising areas that warrant further investigation. Local libraries are often excellent sources of historical knowledge about the area, and bookshops may have some volumes of local history. Don't forget to talk to older people from the area, too — they often know plenty of things that aren't in books or records.
What you're looking for are any places that have particular historical significance, especially if they're no longer there, such as old buildings, shops, and perhaps even forts. But there are also some rich treasure troves that are often overlooked. Wasteland that used to be a park or popular picnic spot, Victorian landfill sites; former farmland that's no longer used — all of these could be hiding all sorts of interesting items. Just make sure you find out who owns the land and get permission before you do anything else.
Get a metal detector
Not all buried treasure is metal, but a lot of it is. A metal detector will help you find it without having to dig indiscriminately. Even if you find metal that isn't of any interest, it may be a clue to the presence of other items.
Look at plants
Plants can tell you a considerable amount about an area, and by studying them, you can reveal clues. The common stinging nettle, for example, likes ground that's been disturbed at some point and is rich in phosphate and nitrogen. This can be a clue to human activity or the site of old buildings, especially if there's an out-of-place patch of nettles somewhere. Anywhere you find a particular plant that stands out from its surroundings, it could be pointing to something interesting below the ground.
For additional advice, contact an archaeology consultant.