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For many years detectorists have reacted to the crimes of their nighthawking colleagues (yes, colleagues: nighthawks couldn’t operate without sharing the forums, clubs, rallies, archaeological publications, FLOs, Treasure Registrars and auctions of all detectorists) by suggesting detectorists should be allowed to “clear” scheduled sites so there was nothing for criminals to find.

This week, following arrests at Beeston Castle, came the latest such suggestion: “This is why we need permission to survey as many scheduled sites as possible to beat the nighthawkers at their own game/gain!”

And here’s Andy Brockman’s withering reply: “Why not? Just so long as metal detectorists come up with a sampling strategy, get the resulting project design approved by Historic England, record finds with cm accuracy, arrange and pay for post excavation conservation and publication and don’t get to keep anything?

To which Henery Iggins added: “and don’t get to keep anything? That’s buggered it!”

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Here are a couple of examples of the surroundings of castles being “protected from nighthawks” by holding rallies on them:

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“Heritage heroes” saving the environs of Corfe Castle from exploitation by nighthawks (they were very thorough – that was about the fifteenth rally there!)

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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