Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Two face looting rap at Roman site?

John Harrison ('Pair investigated on suspicion of attempting to loot buried treasure from Northamptonshire Roman town' 27 September 2011) reports in the Northampton Chronicle that "several alleged crimes" involving the use of metal detectors were being investigated at Chester House Farm, in Irchester, a nationally important Roman small town site in Northamptonshire. Local police are now liaising with experts from English Heritage "and a national police expert about pursuing a case, which if prosecuted, could be one of the biggest of its kind in the country".
Two people are being investigated by police on suspicion of attempting to loot buried treasure from the site [...] Police confirmed the two suspects remained on bail on suspicion of illegally using a metal detector, the theft of treasure, damage to the land and other offences at a site of “tremendous historical and archeological importance”. They are believed to have attempted to take Roman coins and other historical artefacts.
The area has an unfortunate history:
In 2004, Northamptonshire County Council received a grant of £1.2 million from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (now the Department for Communities and Local Government) and purchased Chester Farm, including the walled Roman town and the deserted medieval village of Chester on the Water. Wellingborough's Local Plan states that "planning permission will be granted for a heritage park in association with the archaeological remains of the Chester camp ancient monument" as part of the planned River Nene Regional Park. The aims of the development of the park are to make Chester Farm accessible to the public and provide opportunities for education, leisure and recreation. However, the park plan stalled, due to the lack of "a viable business plan and subsequent pressure on resources." A county council report of November 2007 stated that "In order to safeguard the heritage asset, Cabinet is asked to... declare Chester Farm surplus to the operational requirements of the Council and to approve its sale." Subsequently, in 2010, the farmhouse was gutted by fire (Source: Wikipedia).

Plan: Irchester Roman site.

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