Be polite and honest.

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Saffron
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We all know that unless you are very lucky getting a permission is hard, so here are a few thoughts.

First of all getting a permission from a friend or relative is much easier than trying to get one from somebody that you do not know, so always start by asking friends and relatives even if they only own a little paddock or orchard.

But assuming you have to ask "strangers", how should you contact them?. Try looking at it from their angle.
1) phone. Your either busy doing something or sat down relaxing ..... the phone rings and you do not recognise the number or voice ..... how many cold callers either trying to sell you something you do not want or worse still scams in the last week? Too many!!!. So you are automatically on the defensive. So it does not take much before the "NO" answer is given and you return to what you were doing before being interupted.
2) letter. No SAE - Straight in the bin !!!. SAE provided, if in with a lot of other mail that needs responding to probably straight in the bin, if I do not like the tone straight in the bin. If not in a rush and letter is OK it might get a reply - but if I already have a detectorist or am not keen on the idea it will be "NO". IF lucky it might be a "lets talk"
3) e-mail. Basically same as with a letter. If busy and I have a lot of e-mails to respond to it will get deleted, likewise if I do not like the tone. Otherwise if I already have a detectorist or am not keen on the idea it will get a quick "NO" reply. IF lucky it might be a "lets talk".
4) Face to face in person. Well its harder to ignore a person that is stood in front of you than a random phone call, letter, e-mail. So the detectorist has already slightly improved his / her chances.

So assuming you go for the face to face option.
Think about when you turn up. Sunday lunchtime, or when he is trying to get a quick break between sunday lunch and evening feed (assuming livestock farm) is a good way to upset him. Likewise if an arable farm in the middle of the rush to get the harvest in before it rains.
What do you wear?. Turning up looking like a right scrote that looks more likely to nick anything in sight is going to get a very quick "NO", even more so if driving a transit van!. Obviously no need for "Sunday best" but look "respectable".
What should you say?. "Let me detect your land, mister" is very quick and to the point. So is the reply "NO".
My golden rule for the first opening sentence is always the same - firstly appologise for interupting them and secondly say who I am. Then politely explain you have an interest in history and would like to dectect on their land. Also ensure that you say you are a responsible detectorist and always fill the holes and remove rubbish and follow the metal detecting code of practice, and countryside code, and are fully insured - IF you are not insured you should be! (join the NCMD or if you prefer another organisation or get your own insurance!!) .... if you are not insured most sensible landowners will not want to know.
But above all be polite.
If they say "No" then fair enough - its their land and why should they let a stranger on it?. Respect that and thank them for their time, do not try to argue your point, you never know you might see them again at somepoint and they might recognise you and have changed their mind.
I actually know a person that always gives them a card and says "If you change your mind, or if you ever lose any equipment give me a call", we strongly suspect that in many cases it goes in the bin but he gained a permission when out of the blue he had a call from a farmer who he had given a card to the previous year asking if he could try and find a bit of farm equipment that they had lost .... he went over and managed to find it for the farmer and as a "thank you" was given permission for the large farm.

The first permission is always the hardest to get, so once you get it do what you said - always fill the holes and remove rubbish and follow the metal detecting code of practice, and countryside code. Initially the landowner will be keeping a close eye on you and unfilled holes, rubbish left lying around, gates open, fences broken will all result in a "Good bye, do not come again".

If your resposible and always show them what you have found it might well be that they have only initially given you permission to a small amount of the land that they own, and then when they know that you are trust worthy they will let you on to the rest. The farming world is also very close knit, if you mess things up word will spread and other local farmers will know!!.

If anybody stops you to check you have permission be polite, explain that you have and who from. Also be open about your finds and offer to show them anything "nice" that you have found. You never know, by challenging you they might be an adjacent farmer that has been nighthawked and is looking out for his neighbour! - they might even say "Oh, would you like to detect my land?".

Keep the landowner fully informed, and if you find anything unusual or "nice" do some research on it and write it up and let him have. With luck he might let somebody else see it or tell them about it and that result in a new permission.

Importantly remember them at Christmas. A bottle and Christmas card as a "Thank you" is a very small price to pay for a years detecting.


Some might wonder what suddenly brought on this post ... well there is a reason. Many of you might have read some of my posts about a largely unproductive (assuming you ignore the ton of scrap in my car boot!!) site that I have been on recently -
viewtopic.php?p=39026&
viewtopic.php?p=35249&

Well as a result of talking to the owner of the old school when taking the photo of the bell he mentioned another local church and farmer in the village. Yesterday I went over to the church as suggested and while there 3 ladies and a gentleman were doing the flowers and tidying up, I had a brief word with a couple of the ladies and then the man said "Do I recognise you?". Not always a good sign!, but I had a vague feeling that I recognised him as well. So I introduced myself. His immediate response was "Oh you are the detectorist that found the medal" (to my surprise the write up I had done on the medal had been circulated on the village news group!!!). So we got chatting about the medal, and the person who it had been awarded to (who the gentleman said "Used to live directly opposite me"), and I then mentioned the bell and a bit more about my detecting and how nice the owners of the site were and my interest in local history.

But the gentlemans comment about where he lived was just what I wanted to know ... as it meant he was the person I thought he might be .... the very same farmer whose name I had been given a few days before. Well it was too good a chance to miss "Might it be possible to detect on your land ?" ..... "Yes that is fine, I will show you some interesting bits where there used to be some old houses" :Party: :Party: :Party: I am going over next week to see him and establish what land he owns. I do not know the acreage but I know it is substantial and all around the village, and to the best of my knowledge has not been detected before.

The big advantage I had here is that he already knew my name and that I was reliable due to what I had provided to the first landowner about the medal. Then I had been polite and respectful when talking to him.
Although we had met a good 30 years ago I am not sure that made a difference and if I had called on him without him knowing about me due to the write up about the medal the outcome of requesting the permission might well have been a "No" (as I said to the best of my knowledge he has never allowed detectorists previously and I would have thought that he would have been asked before).

Evan
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Blackadder43
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Very well written information there Evan
I'm a bit socially awkward when first meeting someone, so knocking on their door is always something i struggle with
Once i get over that and the reception is welcoming then woe betide you as i can talk the hind legs off a donkey :lol:

The first permission is always the hardest, but as you say with your look, time of day, approach and demeanor then you can stack the odds in your favour

In general i would say most farmers are very interested in the history of their land, but are often put off by things like bringing your friends unnannounced, leaving gates open, not showing them your finds etc

I have found word of mouth is also a key factor

Long story which i will cut shorter
A month ago we had friends over from Germany
They stayed at their nieces house and we went to visit and go out for lunch
Got chatting with the niece who my wife knew very well
Turns out they just bought a plot of land with the intention of building 2 houses for their children
I mentioned detecting and straight away the husband said "yea come on over and take a look, interested to see whats there"
Conversation progressed and it turned out the neighbor was the daughter of a big land owner/farmer
They are now asking them if i can detect and giving me a glowing reference which gives me a huge head start

Sometimes its not what you know, but who you know

Ask around friends and relatives, you will be surprised how many of them know folk who own fields and horses or knows the local farming people too
Farm shops are also worth a visit as you can buy something and strike up the conversation
I am not known for my ID skills, but i make a cracking brew :thumbsup:
Pete E
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Excellent post Saffron! I know some people do have success with blind letters/emails but I also prefer the face to face approach.

I also agree with the rest of the post too... For instance, I would never dream of turning up at a property all scruffy in my digging clothes, detector over shoulder and ask for permission....On the other hand, if I strike up a conversation with somebody while out detecting, if that person volunteers they own some land, I will obviously make a pitch if he conversation is going in the right direction..

While asking for permission, I follow the same format as Saffron, but in addition to the things he mentions, I add that it will be for me only, and I won't be bringing any else. Additionally, I like to have a "hook" about why the land in question may possibly interesting historically ie mention any thing that as turned up in your research...

Finally, I like to have any paperwork I may need, primarily maps, but also notebooks and cards ect to hand in my vehicle...
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Oxgirl
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Superb post Evan but, more importantly, I’m delighted you have managed to get some land. And right on your doorstep! Well done and hope it is really productive, especially with those Roman things you like to find :D
Yes I really don’t like Roman coins, I’m not joking
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figgis
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"The right approach to seeking a permission" in a nutshell, Evan :thumbsup:
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Kenleyboy
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Good post and some very good pointers for those seeking permission . I didnt have that much luck with the door knocking and I didnt really fancy the cold calling routine or emails . As the door knocking was proving a failure I had a light bulb moment and being an artist and having dabbled in calligraphry I thought a nice hand written letter with some light hearted doodles around the page would be a different approach . My thinking was most of whom I would no doubt write to would be from my generation or older and remember the days of letters penned by hand rather than a bland email and I hoped that this would show some personal effort and consideration .

Out went ten individual hand written letters with SAE and I got ten replies , all very polite , all declined for one reason or another except for one which became my first permission . It was a long haul but it worked . I did ask the Farmer why he allowed me on and he said it was the letter that swayed him , the way it was written etc but he also said if I had door knocked the answer would most likely be a no !

Bottle digging permissions are similar but these tend to be easier for me for some reason as opposed to metal detecting permissions . I always photograph the before and after , make sure all is neat and tidy and I have a small portfolio of finds with accompanying photos of the hole filled and tidied up etc .

My Daughters permission was easier , this was customer based but nevertheless he very much appreciated these images as I think he was a little nervous of holes in his field .
20220403_134635_resized[58501]clod 1.jpg
20220403_134910_resized[58502]clod 2.jpg
20220403_134925_resized[58503]clod 3.jpg
Sent these to him and recieved a thumbs up , new permission so start as you mean to go on , be respectful and word will get around that you are responsible and show respect :thumbsup:
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Easylife
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A great write up and a great outcome. :thumbsup:
Good things come to those who wait.
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Easylife
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I prefer the face to face approach. Though I have had good results through phone calls too if I name drop my other local landowners. :D
Good things come to those who wait.
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Easylife
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Saffron wrote: Sat Apr 16, 2022 12:10 pm If anybody stops you to check you have permission be polite, explain that you have and who from. Also be open about your finds and offer to show them anything "nice" that you have found.
No way, I don't want to plant any seeds of encouragement for them to detect on my land. I am happy to chat but only show them crusty coppers, buttons, and scrap! :lol: :thumbsup:
Good things come to those who wait.
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Easylife
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I would happily buy my landowners something for Christmas if only I knew what they would like, so they get nowt! :Thinking: I do inform my main farmer of all of my finds, even ones of a few hundred pounds value, but still get no response. I would like to give him something back though so I am going to scrap some gold from his land and give him half - he gets a three figure sum. :D
Good things come to those who wait.
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Saffron
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Very many thanks for all the positive comments and it is excellent to know that everybody basically agrees with my thoughts and suggestions.

I fully appreciate BA's comment about not being happy with knocking on strangers doors and struggling with that approach. I am sure he is far from alone with this. I admit that although I am willing to do it I do not enjoy it.

I have seen Kenleyboy's amazing artwork, and with his skills the letter approach unsurprisingly worked. Should anybody resort to the letter writting option I would suggest that following his example and doing a hand written letter looks much better and shows that you have taken the time to do it, rather than a printed letter which the recipient might well believe to be a "genric" letter that has been sent to lots of landowners.

However, as has been said friends / family and word of mouth is the best approach.

Once you have a permission I also said about how important it was to be open and honest with telling the landowner about what you had found. Since my initial post I have actually gained a further permission of about 100 acres due to what the owner of the chapel peice had said to the farmer and them seeing my write up about the bell. Two extra permissions gained in as many days :Party: :Party:

Evan
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Enjoyed reading that.... I belong to a club of 20+ members. We have a club jacket that I always wear when knocking on a landowners door; first impressions and all that.
We often do a bit of what we call "freelancing", driving up lanes looking for manor houses with old orchards. We get on loads of those simply by being friendly, playing with a dog or two or complementing the owner on what a lovely place they have.
If we are farm hunting, I'll do research of the area first and put some old maps and Lidar images on my phone to show the farmer. This usually impresses and shows you are genuine in your enthusiasm for their land.
Most important we always give them what we find on the first hunt. You cannot believe what an impression that makes and has led to many more permissions.
We went farm hunting on Friday last and managed to pick up three new ones. The last farmer pulled out a big tin stuffed with Roman pottery he has found in the fields. We sat in his garden and cooed at his finds.
I'm in a little gang of 5 detectorists. Two of us knock initially, but once we have got the landowners confidence we introduce the others. Works for us.
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