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Please keep your eyes open for this Bronze age carved stone ball on auction and selling sites. It was stolen from Dunblane museum in November.

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A bronze age carved stone ball, measuring approx. 6cm by 6cm has been stolen from its display cabinet at the Dunblane Museum, The Cross, Dunblane, sometime between early and mid November, 2015.

The stone ball may have some identifying numbers marked on it however it would be possible for these to be removed. A photo of the stolen stone ball is attached.

Dunblane Officers are investigating the theft and are appealing for information. If you have any knowledge of who may be responsible or know the whereabouts of the stone ball, please contact them on 101 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Forth Valley Police Division

For donkey’s years the public has been assured that “bad” metal detecting is the province of nighthawks. Lately though officialdom has come up with a definition which blows that simplistic notion out of the water.

They say heritage crime is “harming the value of heritage assets and their settings”. On that basis a lot more than nighthawks are guilty. It works like this. Thousands of “legal” detectorists take finds home without showing the landowner (often with dodgy written agreements authorising them to). That in itself isn’t exactly indicative of a fair minded fine fellow that you’d want your daughter to marry but it’s what it can lead to that matters. If you have an agreement that valuable finds must be shared 50-50 the temptation to not tell the farmer about valuable finds is intense – and crucially it follows that you aren’t going to tell The Establishment either, lest the landowner finds out. Hence, without doubt, the value of heritage assets and their settings” will be harmed. So Officialdom has been hoisted by it’s own petard – or at least by its own definition. We’ll be glad to hear a contrary opinion but don’t anticipate one will be forthcoming. Call it the British Fib, it’s been going on for 17 years.

A particularly obnoxious manifestation will take place later this year, courtesy of Central Searchers. 350 detectorists will be working under the rule that anything found worth up to £2,000 (as privately assessed by the detectorist alone) belongs entirely to the detectorist and anything worth more has to be shared with the landowner. Yes, the landowner is likely to lose out (since it is the detectorist alone who sees and values the item). But more importantly its not beyond possibility (to say the least!) that anything worth anything near £2,000 or indeed anything worth vastly more, may not be reported to the authorities for fear the farmer will find out. That’s a heritage crime and The Establishment says not a word about it.

Here’s a police poster. Not a single solitary word about not reporting being a heritage crime. The police and The Establishment will tell you that the reason for that is you need to be committing a crime to commit a heritage crime and “non reporting” isn’t a crime. However, depriving a landowner of his share IS a crime, it’s theft, so not reporting a find to conceal the fact IS a heritage crime. The British Establishment and police are lying to themselves and to the British public.

Now listen to the stony silence!

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heritage watch.

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by Nigel Swift

Medway History Finders: "couldn't contact an archie, might have been stolen if left overnite, so ...."

Medway History Finders: “couldn’t contact an archie, might have been stolen if left overnite, so ….”

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It makes no sense when you think about it. In Britain unqualified people who seek out and find hoards (which have the legal status of national treasure) are then perfectly free (along with any amateur bystanders) to dig it up as fast and as badly as they wish, destroying the knowledge surrounding it.

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Weekend Wanderers at Lenborough: just one archaeologist there. A number of entirely unqualified people piled in to "help". Out before nightfall ....

Weekend Wanderers at Lenborough: just one archaeologist there. A number of entirely unqualified people piled in to “help”. Out before nightfall ….

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PAS hasn’t said but we can guess that the above debacle was not what the FLO would have preferred. On the contrary, at some point it must have become clear to her that the task was far bigger than first thought and ought to be halted until a professional team could be assembled. But around her were a lot of excitable people many of whom wouldn’t know a moral dilemma from a mozzarella, insisting it must be dug out immediately as overnight protection was impossible and nighthawks might get it. So she felt she had to carry on, fearing that if she stopped that some of them would dig it up anyway, (as hundreds of detectorists have previously) in a still more damaging fashion.

So that’s my guess. I think the FLO was a victim of circumstances and deserves sympathy. Of course it should have been postponed and of course overnight security could have been arranged but there was no legal requirement she could cite. The fault lies with the legal system. We get the archaeological losses the law allows. Sorry to be “elitist” about detectorists but this sort of thing wouldn’t have happened at a gathering of amateur archaeologists – fact! The “voluntary” nature of Britain’s portable antiquities policy was based on the assumption that the two groups were broadly interchangeable. That has turned out to be a damaging mistake. All that remains is an admission.

Who’ll bite the bullet?

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Lendorough, halfway through: "Hmmm, maybe we've got to a stage where we should cover it and ensure it's guarded until a team of archies can be assembled, so it can be done properly?" ..... "Hardly, mate! We're artefact hunters not conservationists or amateur archaeologists so we need to pretend there's an urgent need to get it out now and that no damage will be caused by so doing. "

Lenborough philosophical discourse, halfway through:  Hmmm, maybe we’ve got to a stage where we should cover it and ensure it’s guarded until a team of archies can be assembled, so it can be done properly?
….. “Hardly, mate! We’re artefact hunters not conservationists or amateur archaeologists so we need to pretend there’s an urgent need to get it out now and that no damage will be caused by so doing. “

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

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We received awful news yesterday afternoon from Emma Alsop on the Peak District Prehistory facebook group of yet another paint attack on a stone circle. This time its the latest in a long history of vandalism on the Nine Ladies of Stanton Moor.

Copyright Emma Allsop

Copyright Emma Alsop

She reports green and yellow paint on every stone, evidence of which you can clearly see in the photos. She also said “There are also newly scattered ashes round the circle (someone’s remains I presume)”. Hopefully the person who left that there may be able to help work out when this was done.

Copyright Emma Allsop

Copyright Emma Alsop

We have passed the information on to the relevant authorities. If you have any information which may help, please comment below and we will pass it on.

Update:
We have now visited and taken pictures of the damage to all of the stones – see here

Great job, Police and English Heritage, catching a nighthawk . The first time there’s been had been such a co-ordinated team approach. So long live ARCH – The Alliance to reduce crime against heritage!

What a crying shame this was said though: “Behaviour such as his removes part of our heritage and will not be tolerated.

Please, Police, English Heritage et al, in future if you’re going to highlight the “heritage loss” aspect of nighthawking rather than the theft aspect can you not give the public the least reason to believe that illegal metal detecting is the main cause of heritage loss through metal detecting. It isn’t. Legal detecting by those who don’t report their finds is far more widespread and the cause of vastly more heritage loss than nighthawking. And IS tolerated.

The public has a right to understand that. Thanks.

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More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting

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ARCH (Alliance to Reduce Crime Against Heritage) is holding three briefing sessions this autumn for interested parties to learn more about the Heritage Crime Programme and Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage. The objectives of these sessions are as follows:

To explain the Memorandum of Understanding on Heritage Crime for Local Authorities and Community Safety Partnerships.

To further understanding of what constitute a heritage crime and the impact of crime and anti-social behaviour on the historic environment.

To help identify, through the sharing of best practice, effective partnership interventions, enforcement options and opportunities for multiagency working and community involvement.

Dates and locations of sessions

  • 13 September – Cambridge
  • 27 September – Sheffield
  • 11 October – London

If you work in or are involved with the heritage sector and would like to attend, please visit the helm website to book a place. Heritage Action will hopefully be attending at least one of these sessions as part of our ongoing commitment to the work ARCH is doing.

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