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To: The Trafficking Culture Department, University of Glasgow
[Sent Sunday 8 June 2014]


Good Morning,

Your Encyclopedia says nighthawking (in England and Wales) can be 1. not declaring potential Treasure finds, 2. searching without permission, 3. detecting on scheduled monuments or 4. not disclosing finds to a landowner (except if prior-agreed). But isn’t there another: 5. Depriving a landowner of his entitlement by knowingly failing to disclose to him the true value of finds (which constitutes theft)?

Since in most cases the operative judgement on value lies with the detectorist alone this fifth scenario cannot be safely dismissed as negligible. It is equally possible that it dwarfs the other four, no-one knows. So shouldn’t it be added to your definition (a.) for the sake of completeness (b.) because it’s likely to be associated with non-reporting to PAS and (c.) to properly inform landowners, the public and the police?

Nigel Swift

The Heritage Journal

Update 10 June 2014
Lest anyone thinks I’m unjustified in suggesting some detectorists with permission to detect think it’s no more than a bit of fun to knowingly deprive landowners of their property, this comment appeared on a detecting blog just after the above letter was published.

“I acknowledge that all finds of gold, silver, copper, brass, lead, in fact all materials found in the soil belong to the true landowner. The true landowner is entitled to it all and if the landowner finds it in his heart to let me have a few quid out of it that’s fine and dandy by me. As God made the heaven and the earth, (I assume earth means soil), he is the true landowner so its him who is entitled to all the cash. So from now on, once a month on a Sunday,  I will take all this cash I make from metal detecting to our local church. I will throw it all up in the air and what God wants he will catch, what drops to the floor is mine………… sorted!”

Ho, ho, ho! And next week this chap (who, share or not, would go to prison in many countries for what he does) will be smiling at another farmer’s door. Would YOU let him on your land? Since archaeologists in Bonkers Britain won’t warn landowners, is that a reason for academia not to?




More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting




June 2014

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