Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5 September 2012: Finds From Nationally Important Sites in Private Hands

There are reports about the prosecution of a nighthawk in Suffolk ("More Criminals Caught with Metal Detectors"). Two metal detector users have admitted stealing coins and other artefacts from a protected Roman site in Baylham (Baylham Rare Breeds Farm), near Needham Market.  (Colin Adwent, 'Baylham: ‘Nighthawkers’ admit theft of Roman artefacts', East Anglian Daily Times, Wednesday, September 5, 2012). In a subsequent post ("Focus on Metal Detecting: Baylham Done Over") I discuss another aspect of this situation, from the discussion of the case on the detecting forums, it emerged that nighthawks are not the only people that can have material from nationally significant sites now protected by law in their hands. One detectorist (a  fertlingjohn ) comments [Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:31 pm]:
"Brings back memories in 1976 we had full permission from the then landowner a lovely site in those days the present law on scheduled sites was not in force" 
[Presumably he means the site was not then scheduled, because the laws were certainly in place PMB]. In 1976 however the site was already a known Roman site of importance. It has a good set of cropmarks, had produced all sorts of archaeological evidence in investigations. Here we have a clear case of the targeting of a known site of importance by metal detectorists.  How many other known sites in the region have similarly been done over since the mid-1970s?

Maybe some attempt should be made to track down  those who had permission to hunt for artefacts at sites of national importance (ie subsequently scheduled) and document what was taken from them?

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