Glasgow University is to run a free online course on Antiquities Smuggling and Art Crime. Good! But if you set yourself up as a truth-teller….
….. you’d best tell the whole truth. As Einstein (who lectured there) said “One must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true”. However, their Encyclopaedia about looting seems to pull its punches, defining “Nighthawking” as one of only 4 possible actions (searching without permission, detecting on scheduled monuments, not declaring potential Treasure finds and not disclosing finds to a landowner – except if prior-agreed). They missed a fifth, probably far more significant one (and only added the fourth after WE nagged them to do so).
The missing one is this: Not disclosing the value of a find to a landowner. Think about it. Most farmers know nothing about values, most detectorist know plenty yet under most finds agreements the detectorist alone values the finds with not a word about obtaining independent valuations. Add to that the fact the agreements say finds below a set figure (commonly £300 but sometimes £2,000) are owned 100% by the detectorist and it’s clear there’s a wide open door to crime – massive incentive combined with convenient opportunity. If a detectorist knowingly misrepresents value it’s theft from the landowner and if he then fails to report the finds to PAS (why would he, having lied to the farmer?) it’s knowledge theft from all of us.
So does it happen often? You tell me. In fact, tell me if you’d be willing to sell your house on the basis the purchaser told you how much it was worth? What are the chances, precisely, the value would be correct? That question can be validly asked about just about every detecting finds agreement, thousands of them, which say not a single word about getting an independent valuation. Doesn’t Glasgow University (and many others) have a duty to warn landowners how those contracts leave farmers wide open to the fifth type of nighthawking? Of course they do.
Finally, came across this. Nothing to do with the above, but thought provoking: