British Museum wants to stop magnet fishing

Published: Thursday, 25 January 2024

THE British Museum wants to stop magnet fishing after detectorists broke an invaluable Viking sword when dredging a Norfolk river.

They used too much force to dislodge the sword that it seems was stuck under debris, the powerful magnet snapping it in two, Keith Gudgin reports.

Record finds

It is the museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), that has reported record amounts of historical finds in our navigable rivers, especially the tidal Trent, but after the sword was brought out of the river it was minus its hilt and is now urging  detectorists not to go magnet 'fishing'.

The PAS has long been against magnet 'fishing', and feel it is vindicated with the sword being ruined, so are intent upon attempting to stop it, with its spokesman explaining:

Increasingly popular

"Fishing for metal objects with powerful magnets in lakes and waterways has become increasingly popular. However, there are many risks involved, including finding unexploded ordnance and possibly drowning.

"If objects are recklessly pulled from their resting places, key clues about their use and origins could be lost forever."

However, PAS has been thankful for the many finds that these people have discovered.

 Not allowed

The Canal & River Trust do not allow magnet 'fishing' in its waterways, telling:

"It's great that people are interested in getting rubbish out of the canal, however we don't allow magnet fishing as it can be extremely dangerous. Items dragged out by magnets could be sharp or heavy and cause you to be dragged into the water. We've even had reports of people fishing out old war bombs and dumped weapons.

"When people leave piles of metal on the towpath, it can cause problems for other visitors, for example families with young children."