Security at the Staffordshire Hoard field is plainly inadequate – see last week’s article  and the photograph below. So £47,000 just offered by The Heritage Lottery Fund for a touring exhibition of replica artefacts “to tell the story” of the discovery would surely be better spent on a few lights or employing a security guard to watch the field every night until it’s next ploughed. The public would heartily agree, except that:

A.) They’ve been told any remaining items are safe, deep underground. But they haven’t been told that Minelab GPX 5000 metal detectors go down more than 24″, far deeper than any plough, and have been available to nighthawks for years.
B.) They’ve also been told the original archaeological survey used top-quality detectors supplied by the Home Office “as used in Afghanistan” yet at that time both US and British forces were using Ebex 420H machines with “little depth capability” and the new deep-seeking machines weren’t even launched until a year later. Even the archaeological survey last November (that revealed 91 items missed in 2009 and 2010) involved, according to the photographs, few or no deep-seeking detectors so the only extensive use of deep detectors on that field, ever, may have been by thieves! Money spent telling the story of the discovery would clearly be better spent ensuring if there’s more to be discovered it isn’t done by criminals.

What was foundOne of several holes photographed on 2 Feb 2013. Others were noted and photographed a week later on 10 Feb 2013. (As we observed at the time, all 8 intrusions were close to the hoard find spot and all had been created since the land was ploughed in November 2012, prompting the question, how many were created in the previous three years? Who knows – but Icklingham, which hasn’t had a tenth of the global publicity, has had hundreds of attacks despite a battery of high tech security systems.)

In the past two and a half years we’ve written 5 times to The Archaeology Forum (which works closely with the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group), pointing out the new machines are a threat to archaeology, including to the Staffordshire Hoard, and action is needed. But to no avail. Sad isn’t it?

UPDATE 14 September 2013
It is noteworthy that it isn’t just The Establishment that has maintained a profound silence about ongoing nighthawking on the Staffordshire Hoard field, it is detectorists – who have said not a single public word about it.

Until today, when this extraordinary attack on us by one “Geoman” appeared on the Detecting Wales website:
then we have the internet Trolls trying hard to incite criminals, or potential thinking about it criminals, to hawk the Staffs hoard site. I am sure there is some criminal offence in inciting others to commit a crime so perhaps the heritage police will look into it.”

So, the position is this:

  • any remaining portions of the Staffordshire Hoard are almost certainly being progressively stolen
  • but The Establishment (whose function is to protect heritage) has said nothing
  • and detectorists (who are “only in it for the love of history”) have also said nothing
  • until today, when the only people that HAVE said anything (ourselves and Paul Barford) have been labelled as trolls who are speaking out about it in order to incite people to do it.

The whole situation is completely barmy.