Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Nightime Artefact Hunting in Shropshire Cemetery

According to the Shropshire Star (hat tip to Mo) Metal detectorists plunder Shropshire cemetery, 27th October 2010:
Late-night metal detectorists [...] are plundering a south Shropshire cemetery in the hope of unearthing valuable relics from a historic battle, it was claimed today. A meeting of Ludlow and Clee local joint committee last night called on police to take action against those who target the cemetery in the hope of selling the booty on to unscrupulous dealers for huge profit. It is believed [they...] are targeting the cemetery and the area around Park Road because there had been a battle at Ludford Bridge in the 1400s. Councillor Imogen Liddle, vice-chairman of Ludford Parish Council near Ludlow, said: “[...] They have spades, metal detectors and torches. People have been threatened with spades. Despite the fact that we’ve given car registration numbers, it still persists.” Councillor Liddle said residents had told her they had spotted holes that had been dug up in the cemetery.
This is wholly indicative of the way some of these people exercise their "right" to hunt for artefacts wherever they feel like it and in total disregard for the feelings of those who would rather they did not in certain places. The description of the aggressiveness which they exhibit when challenged is also typical of the milieu in general. The reaction of the local law enforcement officer is telling, though the information about the Treasure Act is not entirely accurate (and its not just so-called "rogue" metal detectorists who will continue to search a site from which a Nationally important Treasure has been found in the hope of finding more):
Local police constable Paul Sparrow urged people to continue monitoring the situation and send in registration numbers. He told the meeting it was not just a problem in the Ludlow area. He said that police would deal with people who were breaking the law. He added: “People who go metal detecting may be engaged in other activity that is unlawful. We will deal with them, but if they have gone on land with landowners’ permission there may not be anything we can do.” “Nighthawks” trespass on to land and any finds are sold on to unscrupulous dealers, rather than officially declared. The nighthawks are unintentionally aided by the Treasure Act of 1996 which stipulates that all finds must be published, thereby alerting rogue detectorists to sites. Nighthawks also gain information by joining legitimate metal detectors’ clubs.
I'd like to know more about the PC's source for his statement: “people who go metal detecting may be engaged in other activity that is unlawful". What is an "illegitimate metal detectors' club"?


Anonymous said...

I know this place and have some direct knowledge of it all.

Park Road is a cul de sac with the battlefield at the end. People with metal detectors are constantly going up the road and are tend to be aggressive to the locals when challenged evidently.

Immediately adjoining the field is not the main cemetery but a green cemetery which has some marked but many (I assume) unmarked interments and it looks like an area of grassland. I presume these people jump over the wire fence from the field thinking no-one else will have thought to search there but of course they all think exactly that.

The awful thing is that the green cemetery is pretty new so all the graves are very recent. I have been told by Park Rd residents that soon after it was opened metal detecting went on in the battle site one night and in the morning three holes were found around the graves of three children from the same family that had recently all died in a car crash.

On a more general note:

PC Sparrow is under fire from metal detectorists for besmirching their good name! I guess the poor chap thought that since everyone openly admits there are “bent coppers” no-one would be averse to him pointing out there are also criminal metal detectorists. How wrong could he be!

According to them and PAS the moment a metal detectorist does a crime he is no longer allowed to be called a metal detectorist but a nighthawk, thus no metal detectorist has ever committed a crime and never will. PAS will confirm this reputation-saving duality – and transmits it to the public every day, which I think is utterly scandalous. Some metal detectorists are criminals; it’s a fact; some of them are in the metal detecting clubs (detectorists confirm) and some get unwittinglt backslapped by PAS at rallies. Why should a government agency not admit there are "criminal metal detectorists" when the Home Office admits it about policemen? Well that’s easy – policemen aren’t blackmailing the Home Office and the country by threatening mass misbehaviour if anyone says any of them are bent!
In the Gospel according to detectorists and PAS PC Sparrow shouldn't have called these thugs metal detectorists but nighthawks. Orwellian or what?!

Paul Barford said...

"the moment a metal detectorist does a crime he is no longer allowed to be called a metal detectorist but a nighthawk, thus no metal detectorist has ever committed a crime and never will".

What do they call it when something is within the law but clearly wrong? What is the official PAS term for that, please?

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