Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Eight "Metal Detectorists" arrested

Innocent until proven guilty: eight arrested men
Today, eight men aged between 33 and 48 were arrested after investigations apparently brought about by them posting on the internet a film showing them digging up artefacts on land where they had the permission of the landowner. As a consequence, they have reportedly been charged with destroying archaeological sites and stealing artefacts. If convicted, they could face up to five years in prison and loss of their equipment. It seems that the matter started when the police were informed by a member of the public in December 2015 that a film had appeared on the internet showing illegal excavations where men were digging in a ploughed field where a metal detector had detected buried metal. But we are told that these men were not content with "detecting" it, they wanted to take it away, as a result, they dug up old coins and pocketed them. This is what many "metal detectorists" do.  The police reportedly traced the men and found they belonged to an informal group that had been operating together to seek for historical artefacts on "digs" they organized for over a year in several regions of the country. In effect, the police appear to have found a "metal detecting club". They reportedly arrested eight of the men identified as belonging to this club, searched their homes in three different towns and then seized the artefacts they had collected, coins, militaria (ammunition, helmets) and other historical artefacts. It is reported that the men have admitted to the charges.

Is Bonkers Britain at last getting tough with history pilferers and knowledge thieves? Sadly not yet. In Britain these folk get a pat on the head and invitations to work as "partners" with archaeologists. The events described above happened in Europe, in the very centre of Europe to be precise, near Łódż in Poland.  Here archaeological artefacts belong to the state and you have to have a permit to go and look for them. No doubt these eight men will have a chance to show any search permits they have in court.

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