A one-mile stretch of Hampton Roads beach was closed yesterday while officials and volunteers equipped with metal detectors hunted for ammunition buried in the sand that may date to the Civil War.

At least 28 shells have turned up at Buckroe Beach in the past week in sand dredged from the Chesapeake Bay, said Hampton Fire Battalion Chief Richard C. Blakeslee.

The shells began turning up Wednesday, when a Norfolk Dredging employee found three World War II-era shells on the beach. On Saturday, a man looking for valuables with a hand-held metal detector found four 11-inch shells.

"He dug it up and took it to his car," said Newport News resident Donna Garrett. "Then he brought it back when he realized it might be active."

Lifeguards alerted police and fire officials, who closed the beach about 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Officials swept the beach with metal detectors to find any other shells. They also enlisted a group of about 20 hobbyists equipped with more sensitive detectors to scour the beach, Blakeslee said.

There were 28 shells in all, including eight found yesterday morning. Much of the ammunition is World War II vintage, but officials said some dates to World War I and some may be from the Civil War.