Landowners might well consult Wikipedia to learn about nighthawks but it’s clear that whoever wrote the entry deliberately distorted the truth. For instance:

1.) “Nighthawkers, being criminals, are distinct from law-abiding metal detectorists.”

Obviously. But that diverts from the important truth, useful to landowners, that nighthawks are NOT distinct from detectorists in general. The two groups occuply the same space, the same clubs, the same forums and the same Finds Liaison Officers. How else could nighthawks gain intellgence and professional identifications and Treasure rewards? Why doesn’t Wikipedia make THAT clear for the benefit of landowners?

2.) “The National Council for Metal Detecting or the Federation of Independent Detectorists are not to be confused with such criminal activity”.

But as explained above, that can’t be true! Of course nighthawks are likely to be members of those bodies since nighthawks aren’t a distinct species they are simply metal detectorists. Why doesn’t Wikipedia make THAT clear for the benefit of landowners?

3.) “Furthermore, it has been claimed, but not proven, that nighthawkers use such groups as a method of obtaining information about archaeological sites.”

But why wouldn’t they, being metal detectorists, every one of whom do exactly that? Why doesn’t Wikipedia make THAT clear for the benefit of landowners?

4.) “It has also been claimed that criminal gangs have been directed to archaeological sites by rogue archaeologists seeking a share of ill-gotten spoils.”

Claimed by whom? Evidenced when? Why would a rogue archaeologist intent on ill-gotten spoils have a need to enlist the help of a scruff with a spade? The statement serves simply to make it crystal clear who wrote the page. It is to be hoped that landowners will take heed.

PS … and this one’s a doozy!

5. Regarding Treasure, “Nighthawkers rarely declare their finds due to the method of acquisition”.

What utter, utter rot! If you’d nighthawked something valuable and had no conscience you’d simply tell PAS and the Treasure Registrar you found it elsewhere, at a rally, surely?!


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting