Sunday, 1 October 2017

Evidence that they are a Separate Breed?

Tony Henderson, 'Raiders using metal detectors to plunder historic items from Roman town' Chronicle  29th Sept 2017
[Knowledge thieves] using metal detectors are stealing objects from the site of what is the only known major Roman town in the North East. Archaeologists from Historic England have found evidence of damage being caused by illegal metal detectorists [...] in the scheduled, protected area around the remains of the visitor-attraction Roman Town of Corbridge which forms part of the Hadrian’s Wall world heritage site in Northumberland. The Roman Town of Corbridge is a scheduled monument, which means that it is protected by law against ground disturbance or unlicensed metal detecting. The illegal operations are taking place at night the [in the] farmland protected area around the English heritage town site. This year – and also the last two years – [metal detector users] have moved in after ploughing has taken place, which can bring objects closer to the surface and within range of metal detectors. The latest holes left by the nighthawkers were discovered by English Heritage staff 50 metres to the south of their site. Mike Collins, inspector of ancient monuments for Hadrian’s Wall at Historic England in the North East, said: “Corbridge Roman town has been targeted repeatedly over the years by [metal detectorists].
Which is odd as it was one of the su=ites where looting was highlighhted back in the mid-1990s in the CBA?EH report (Denison and Dobinson) and recent attemopts have been made to suggest that 'now we have the PAS', uillegal collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record has been drasticallty reduced. not here it seem,s, opne of the sites being robbed out before PAS is still being robbed out after 20 years of PAS 'outreach'. Why?

And what is this word "nighthawks' used by this journalist? Why is it needed? (See Heritage Action's excellent - really excellent - latest Swiftian prose 'Hurrah! A journalist who didn’t get the memo about telling the metal detecting lie! 01/10/2017 ')

Meanwhile the Daily Mail wants these Treasure hunters stopped: 'Nail the nighthawksplea as Treasure hunters target Roman Corbridge' and here another newspaper: 'Nighthawks' put Corbridge Roman Town remains at risk ' .

But there is always one, isn't there?
Head of heritage crime and policing for Historic England, Mark Harrison, said: “ [...] We recognise that the majority of the metal detecting community comply with the rules relating to the discovery and recovery of objects from the land, but there are still a significant number who don't.  
That's like a church dismissing the issue of child abuse by priests by reminding at every opportunity that what is important to remember is that 'we have to recognise that the majority of the ecclesiastical community comply with social norms and the law relating to the touching of children's genitals  even though there are still a significant number who don't', and therefore the problem is not one that anyone should be concerned about and certainly no change in policy needs to be discussed.

What is the evidence these people are a separate breed? If we raided the home of the average detectorist, we'd find some objects for which a release form has been signed by a landowner for an object taken from their land  with their permission. But in the average collection, how many would there be  without that kind of documentation, when that permission cannot be demonstrated? In the case of a collector who has a mass of items which cannot be documented as legally obtained, what is their status?

vignette: no need to worry, they are a separate breed

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