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English Heritage Chief Simon Thurley has just said there is evidence that many of those who dig up archaeologically rich sites looking for valuable artefacts are …habitual offenders” who “trawl English Heritage’s own databases of protected sites looking for places likely to contain rich pickings” and that “there’s no disincentive – if you get a slap on the wrist, you just go and do it again.”

How awful, Dr Thurley. Drat those criminals. And yet…. digging up archaeologically rich sites looking for valuable artefacts is the very essence of all metal detecting, as is habitual trawling through all archaeological databases to find unprotected but important sites likely to contain “rich pickings”!

In addition, since 70% of what’s legally found isn’t reported it’s beyond denial that the loss of cultural knowledge caused in that way utterly dwarfs the losses caused by the few hundred criminal nighthawks that you complain about so bitterly. So where’s your slap on the wrist for that? Or even your mild rebuke? Or even your admission that the present free-for-all is having an unacceptable impact on England’s heritage?

It’s the legal damage that warrants your urgent attention, see?


counter 2014


More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting


Bryn Cader Faner, Gwynedd



Bryn Cader Faner – Image Copyright Rudi Winter and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


January 2014
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