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Hurrah for metal detectorist Laurence Egerton who found a massive hoard in Devon and stopped digging and slept in his car for 3 days to guard it so it could be excavated by the professionals! Compare and contrast most detectorists. Ever heard of any of them doing that? It’s 3 years since we suggested they should do exactly that (and still PAS hasn’t suggested such a thing on their website!). And what about this lot?

There's a video of them digging this up. 21 detectorists were seen or heard on that but only one is heard to be suggesting the archaeologists should be brought in, and he is quickly shouted down. Less than one in twenty. Their excuse was that if they left it overnight "someone" (by which they probably meant one of them!) would steal it. And no-one was prepared to stay and guard it. Yet Mr Egerton was.

There’s a video of them digging this up. Twenty one detectorists were seen or heard on that but only one is heard to be suggesting the archaeologists should be brought in, and he is quickly shouted down. So that’s less than one in twenty. Their excuse was that if they left it overnight “someone” (by which they probably meant one of them!) would steal it. And no-one was prepared to stay and guard it. Yet Mr Egerton was.

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So how can detectorists be made to “do an Egerton”? Here’s an idea. Never mind a token “bad behaviour reduction” in their reward by the Treasure Valuation Committee. How about giving a stonking 75% of their reward to Mr Egerton or those who behave like him? Do that a few times and the message might get through that bad behaviour isn’t worth it and good behaviour is! Which detectorist would think that was unfair? The message might even get through to the people no other messages reach – like Terry Bull from Kent:

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“I think they did the right thing …. they put the hard work in so can’t see the problem good for them to have found a hord that’s grate if I find a hord I’m digging it out to and have a look inside to see what’s there lol”

Really Terry? What if you stood to lose £100,000?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

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