A Q&A with Gary Fenn

All quiet on the home front but across the pond Gary Fenn is digging the pastime day in, day out. In between he agreed to do a Q  & A  for yours truly and I greatly appreciate it. Enjoy and if you have any questions for Gary send them via the comments section….

The Q & A


Q. Gary, if you don’t mind tell us a little about yourself, i.e., age, where you’re from, where you live, are you married, kids, etc..

A. I live in Plymouth England and I have a son and a daughter. I am a decorator by trade and I enjoy playing guitar. Yea I rock!!


Q. Does anyone else in the family detect?

A. My malamute “Knuk” if you can count that, but he mostly just rolls in the dirt and chases sheep. Occasionally he points me in the right direction though!

My buddy Knuk


Q. When exactly did you start detecting and what was it that got you interested?

A. I began detecting in 2013. In the UK metal detecting is a major pastime. It is difficult not to be exposed to it either through news stories of discovered hoards or seeing detectorists out on the local fields. I have always been attracted to the historical aspect and finding ancient items or personal items, and the stories they reveal is what I find most intriguing.


Q. Gary what was your first detector and what made you purchase that particular brand/model?

A. Garrett Ace 150. At the time, it was an affordable option, which was the driving force behind my purchasing decision. I was sure I would enjoy the hobby but I did not want to spend a lot of money on a machine and find out it was not for me. I graduated through the line of Garrett detectors up to the AT Pro until I began to feel like I wanted something next level. This is when I set my eyes on the Nokta line of metal detectors.


Q. In the beginning where did you concentrate your time? Were you able to get permissions easily?

A. It is always difficult to get permission so I initially started out looking locally—any spot that would allow me. It took some time before I was able to procure a few locations that had some history to them. I have also detected some club digs but I prefer a smaller team of just me and Knuk or my mate Paddy.


Q. A memory test now. What was your very first signal/find? Do you by chance remember?

A. Well, the first memorable find was a 1930s toy car!


Q. Okay Gary what was your first good or decent find, as in keeper.

A. Easy… A Victorian penny.

Victorian penny


Q. Another memory test….how long did it take you to find your first silver coin and what was it?

A. Not sure of the first. It was probably a shilling from the 1920s. But the first hammered silver coin was a Lizzy 1st shilling that I found in 2015.

First hammered silver, found in 2015


Q. How long Gary did it take you to find your first ring or piece of jewelry and what was it?

A. First ring was silver circa 1979 which I found in 2015.

NOT my first ring but an 18th century traders posey ring with love/vartu on it


Q. In the beginning did you spend a lot of time researching and if so just how did you go about it?

A. We’re fortunate in the UK in that the lands are all old. For me, I never spent a lot of time looking at old maps. Everywhere here has potential. Most of my research is spent in finds identification and looking up the history of the interesting or mystery finds that are recovered.


Q. What would you consider to be your very best find after all this time, and if it’s hard to choose just one tell us about all of them.

A. There are so many great finds. My first hammered coin, my first roman. One of the ones that stand out for me would be the WW2 dog tag I uncovered belonging to a man who served in the United States Navy. My mates and I went on a deep dive search to find the owner of the tag and it brought us back to his widow in the Northeast United States. Because of the significance and the distance, I was interviewed by Fox News, as was the widow who was shocked to have the dog tag found after all those years.


Another favorite was a mystery piece with a name engraved on it from the 18th century that took us on a journey to the HMS PERSEUS and its Captain George Palmer! We are still not completely certain what the piece is, a tag off of a trunk perhaps or from a dog collar or horse harness maybe. It is stills shrouded in mystery which adds to its appeal.


Q. Okay what is your weirdest find to date? Everybody pretty much has at least one….

A. Mole traps! We were asked to locate a bunch of them in the land owners garden! Sometimes you have to pay back in strange and fascinating ways.


Q. And what is your “OLDEST” find to date?

A. Roman coins. I found 5 in one day in 2021! That was a GREAT day.


Q. Gary, what detector are you using at the moment and why?

A. The Nokta Legend. As a Notka NOMAD I have tried just about every detector in their lineup and The Legend has proven to be the machine for me. It is multi-frequency and has great depth and separation; it is lightweight, waterproof, and loaded with features like Ferrocheck and bottle cap reject, which means digging less trash. I have dug alongside many of the other high-end detectors and The Legend has not disappointed. I have been recovering some amazing relics with it on ground that has been pounded out by every machine on the market and The Legend keeps amazing me.

The Legend continues to amaze me…


Q. Can you offer a few tips or settings/programs?

A. I am not one to fiddle much with the machine. I don’t like to discriminate too much, preferring to hear everything I’m going over. One of the things I love about The Legend is you literally can pick it up, choose the appropriate mode and just go. Unless I am dealing with a lot of mineralization or interference I generally just turn it on, pick my mode, best frequency for the given location, ground balance and go.


Q. Surely you have a backup detector. What is it?

A. I have a nice line of Nokta detectors to go to but I have to say my backup would be the Simplex+ or the Anfibio Multi. Unless it is a spot where I want to dig some seriously deep targets, I would opt for the Simplex+ because it is lighter. But both are solid machines with great separation and depth.


Q. When you do go detecting Gary what “must have” accessories do you take along?

A. I don’t like to carry too much. I keep extra coils and my battery pack in the van. But mostly I head out there with my spade, pinpointer, finds pouch, and maybe a celebratory cider with the expectation that I will uncover something epic.

I prefer to travel light


Q. Do you prefer hunting with others or are you a loner?

A. Both. I know that is not an answer so let me explain. I do not mind detecting on my own some days when I just want to get out there in the solitude and be out in nature with Knuk. Though usually, I like detecting with a mate like Paddy. It is more fun to share those amazing finds or have a laugh, and Paddy and I definitely have a laugh. I’ve also enjoyed going on group hunts where there are so many personalities and it feels a bit like being in an episode of The Detectorists.

My mate Paddy


Q. Okay Gary everybody has a bucket list. Tell us about yours?

A. A roman hoard? A Viking ship? There are so many dream finds I can think about. But I would really love to find a GOLD STATER!


Q. What other countries have you been able to detect?

A. So far I have only detected in the UK. I like to stay kind of close to home, especially after a long workweek. There is so much history here to be recovered as a weekend warrior, it really does enable me to step out my door and have the potential for so many amazing finds. It might be fun someday to go detecting in Germany because of the WW2 history, or the United States because of the friends I have made throughout this hobby, but until that time I am happy right here in my own backyard.


Q. Do you belong to a club and if so tell us a little about it?

A. I essentially have my own club called Heavy Metal Detecting with Knuk, Paddy, and myself. I also have an online Facebook group with fellow NOMAD Siren Kimmie called We Rock Metal Detecting.


Q. Gary do you have any other hobbies or interests?

A.I love playing guitar, cooking, and grilling up tasty food at my home bar-b-que pit, and I am a fan of films and music. I also enjoy exploring nearby historic places and having a stay over at a manor or hotel. Oh, and I home-brew my own cider.

Two other hobbies I love….


Q. If you could design one what would your IDEAL detector look like?

A. I’m quite content with The Legend as it is. Maybe if we could add a wine dispenser or an MP3 player to really trick it out.


Q. Finally Gary, if you could pass along one or two words of advice to beginning detectorists or for that matter any detectorist, what would they be?

A. Beyond the obvious of learning your machine inside and out, try to remember it is about having fun. Be respectful of the properties you are detecting, leaving them in better condition than when you found them. And never throw anything away until you have completely confirmed it is trash (and even then a few quid can be made by recycling). Get out there and recover those rockin’ finds!


Knuk and I agree it’s all about having fun!




Filed under Metal Detecting

15 responses to “A Q&A with Gary Fenn

  1. What a fun read! I really enjoyed it! Thanks for interviewing Gary he is an awesome relic hunter and he DOES rock! Xoxo

  2. Paddy

    It’s a great buzz detecting and having a laugh whilst spending time in the fresh air. I look forward to saving more sheep !!!!!

  3. Oh yeah, good interview by the way! However, I thought you could have included ‘How to make home-brewed cider’ in the Words of Advice Section…just for general interest.

  4. Tony

    I enjoyed that interview.
    His mate Paddy reminds me of Bruce Hazelman with a goatee!

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