The official reactions to the recent conviction of nighthawks at Beeston Castle say it all:

PC Ashley Tether, Cheshire Police: Once these items are lost or damaged they can’t be replaced and we lose the context and the story that may have helped us to understand our ancestors better“. Yes, but that applies far more to non-reporting by “legal” metal detectorists – why not say so?

Win Scutt, English Heritage: “Illegal metal detecting robs us of our past” … Yes, but that applies far more to non-reporting by “legal” metal detectorists – why not say so?

Mark Harrison, Head of Heritage Crime Strategy for Historic England goes further: “The overwhelming majority of metal detectorists comply with the legislation and codes of practice.” That’s true ONLY if you use the plural, “codes”, but there’s only ONE valid code, singular. NCMD and FID refuse to sign that and provide members with their own codes which give detectorists far more of a carte blanche to report finds or not while fooling farmers into thinking they are following the real one. Thus, only a MINORITY comply with the Code!

So it couldn’t be clearer: official fact-blindness enables detectorists to mislead farmers. So why can’t the Establishment say to farmers and the public, loud and clear, there is only one valid code, beware of anyone who says otherwise?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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