PAN: Portable Antiquities of the Netherlands


Portable antiquities (small metal artefacts of prehistoric or historical date) are found in large quantities by metal detector users while walking arable fields or trenches of building plots and other construction works. These private finds greatly outnumber the collections of metal artefacts usually retrieved by professional archaeologists during excavations. Therefore, they have a high scientific potential for studying economic, social and cultural aspects of past societies. For professional archaeologists distribution maps of portable antiquities are major tools, but at present such maps are notoriously incomplete as through a lack of a centrally organised database privately owned items cannot be taken into account. Apart from a scientific interest, as indicators of archaeological sites the portable antiquities are also highly relevant for heritage management in the context of spatial planning. PAN aims to establish close cooperation between the private metal-detector community, the academic world and heritage institutions regarding the registration, scientific enrichment and use of the collections of portable antiquities for decision-making in planning policy. Metal detection as a leisure time activity started to spread in the 1970s. With the first generation of detectorists now being in their 70s, there is an urgent need to document their collections before with their death an enormous potential of scientific information will be lost forever. While the objects themselves might remain available for further research in the future, the crucial information on the exact find spot of the metal objects can only be retrieved orally from the finders themselves.
Although private individuals have a legal obligation to report their finds to municipal, provincial or state authorities, in practice this is hardly done, also because reporting finds is not well facilitated at present. This investment proposal aims at developing an infrastructure for find reports, encompassing a digital find reporting site (online database with a linked data structure) as well as the manpower to digitise the backlog of existing collections. Examples of similar reporting infrastructures outside the Netherlands and recent developments in digital humanities, networking services and crowdsourcing have been major sources of inspiration for the lay-out of the national infrastructure proposed here.


Scientific article

  • N. Roymans, S. Heeren(2017): The Late Roman solidus hoard from Lienden (NL). Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt pp. 397 - 412
  • N. Roymans, S. Heeren(2017): Doe mee met PAN. Het belang van archeologische vondsten in privé-bezit Archeologie in Nederland pp. 18 - 25
  • V. van der Veen(2017): Franse uniformknopen uit de vestingstad Grave. Archeologie in Nederland pp. 18 - 23
  • J. Bazelmans, J.W. de Kort, S. Heeren, N. Roymans(2017): De goudschat van Lienden. Archeologie in Nederland pp. 2 - 9
  • M. Lewis, S. Heeren, P. Deckers, S. Thomas, A. Dobat, N. Ferguson(2018): The complexities of metal detecting policy an practice. Open archaeology pp. 322 - 333

Professional publication

  • S. Heeren(2016): Het melden van munten en andere bodemvondsten: PAN gaat van start pp. 217 - 219
  • S. Heeren(2017): PAN (Portable Antiquities of the Netherlands) en nieuwe kennis over La Tène meerdelige fibulae pp. 41 - 42
  • S. Heeren, N. Roymans, J.W. de Kort(2017): Archeologisch onderzoek bij Lienden-Den Eng, gemeente Buren. pp. 1 - 53
  • J. De Jong, V. Van der Veen(2017): Een bijzonder inktstempel uit de Franse tijd pp. 44 - 45

Publication meant for a broad audience

  • S. Heeren(2016): Welke vondsten melden en waar moet ik die melden? pp. 6 - 7
  • M. Traa(2017): Schatten in de etalage pp. 14 - 15
  • J. Van der Klooster, S. Heeren(2017): PAN ook in Zeeland actief voor melden metaalvondsten pp. 12 - 13
  • N. Roymans, S. Heeren, J. Bazelmans(2017): De goudschat van Lienden: een goede samenwerking tussen detectorzoekers en archeologen pp. 26 - 29
  • S. Heeren(2017): Nieuw meldpunt voor kleine archeologische vondsten door detectorzoekers Portable Antiquities of the Netherlands pp. 18 - 19
  • M. de Haas, M. Daleman(2017): Het PAN-project en een muntschat uit de 17e eeuw pp. 143 - 145
  • M. Traa(2017): Schatten in de etalage. pp. 14 - 15
  • J. van der Klooster, J. van den Berg(2017): 'Stripverhaal' uit Tachtigjarige Oorlog pp. 23 - 24
  • S. Heeren(2018): Portable Antiquities of the Netherlands (PAN): de stand van zaken pp. 4 - 4
  • C. Wichers(2018): Database PAN. Metalen privévondsten online pp. 127 - 131
  • S. Heeren(2018): Portable Antiquities of the Netherlands: private archeologische vondsten beschikbaar als Linked Open Data pp. 17 - 19

Publications for the general public


Project number


Main applicant

Prof. dr. N.G.A.M. Roymans

Affiliated with

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Letteren

Team members

Drs. M. Daleman, M.V. de Haas MA, Dr. S. Heeren, Dr. S. Hoss, Dr. M. Kars, J.A.L. van der Klooster BA, E.J. Kroon, E.J. Kroon, Drs. R.W. Reijnen, J. van Roemburg MA, Drs. G.A.H. Scheijvens, V. van der Veen MA