Here’s Sheeps Tor, just sold by auction together with 160 acres of surrounding moorland and Yellowmead Stone Circles, for £145,000. The purchaser won’t be able to change it or prevent anyone going on it and will simply be the curator of it for the next generation!

But here’s the Ryedale Hoard, dug up by a couple of far less public spirited metal detectorists, and just sold for personal gain through celebrity telly auctioneer Charles Hanson for £185,000. No-one knows if the public will ever see it again. What a shame the detectorists didn’t donate their share (or even sell it cheap to a museum) and encourage the landowner to do the same. But then, more than 90% of detectorists don’t.

In our opinion there is too little public contempt by officialdom for metal detectorists who don’t donate and for dealers and auctioneers who abet them. Yes they’re within the law, but what stinkers! (And that includes the auctioneer in this case, who seemed unaware of what was being done and said, over and over and over as he sold it: “I’m honoured and humbled… We’re making memories… From the rich soil of England … Long live Marcus Aurelius.)


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting