Someone found a hoard at Lenborough and got rewarded. What’s not to like? Well, two things: First, he was paid a mind-boggling £675,000, far more than was needed or warranted or could be afforded or other countries would have paid. Second, the Treasure Committee still could and should have slashed the reward for “bad practice” (he claimed, fatuously, the hoard couldn’t be guarded overnight so had to be dug up hurriedly, thus destroying much knowledge). But they didn’t, they almost never do.

Why is our reward system like this? For one simple, shameful, unpublicised reason: zillions of UK detectorists make it clear that if they don’t get maximum payouts they won’t declare treasure finds. As “Rescue” said about Lenborough:”it represents nothing but yet another lost opportunity to add to the knowledge we have about the Saxon period ….  But you won’t read about that in the papers.” Indeed you won’t. But never mind Lenborough, that was LEGAL activity, albeit bad practice. What about the rewards the Treasure Committee also gives to criminals? Well …

Here are volunteers in 2013 at an official dig in Kidderminster ....

Here are volunteers at an official dig in Kidderminster in 2013 ….

And here are our images of the nighthawk holes that peppered the area by next morning. If the volunteers had found a valuable item they'd have been paid nothing. If the nighthawks had done so (did they?) and "re-found" it elsewhere they'd be rewarded. How often has that happened in preference to trying to sell stolen goods? Never? Often? If you were a nighthawk in Britain, what would YOU do?

And here are our images of the nighthawk holes that peppered the area by next morning.

Quite a juxtaposition. If the volunteers had found treasure they’d have got nothing. If the criminals had done so (did they?) and “re-found” it elsewhere they’d be given full market value. Does that happen much? Well put it this way: if you were a nighthawk in Britain (or even a visiting one with goods to dispose of) what would YOU do? It’s beyond denial, we have a treasure system which showers excessive rewards not just on the partly deserving but also the blatantly undeserving and the downright criminal. But you won’t read about that in the papers either. Move along now. Nothing to see here.

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