Thursday 7 April 2011

Arrests in UK Underwater Artefact Hunting Case

Two men are reportedly being questioned in connection with the seizure of artefacts from a home in Ramsgate, Kent (Jamie Stephens, 'Artefacts seized from Ramsgate home', KentOnline, 6th April 2011). They were seized by Kent and Essex Police working with English Heritage as part of a recently launched heritage crime initiative.

It is believed the artefacts were looted from the historic wreck of HMS London, a 64-gun warship blown up accidentally in peacetime, just a year after its launch, off Southend (Samuel Pepys wrote about the event in his diary at the time). The wreck was rediscovered in 2008 and the routes of shipping channels through the Estuary changed to prevent further damage and allow archaeologists to investigate.

A 44-year old man from Ramsgate and a 54-year old Dover man have been arrested in connection with the theft of items from a protected wreck in the Thames Estuary. Both men are being questioned at a police station in Kent.

Mark Harrison, Policing Advisor of English Heritage, said: "The police acted very swiftly and English Heritage archaeologists were also on site to assess the significance of the seized articles. "This kind of close partnership is important to tackling heritage crimes like these and we are very pleased that it is producing results".
The 150 artefacts found in the house include a 2-tonne cannon, a Trinity House bell estimated at £50,000. A sum of £7,000 in cash was also seized in the raid.

Vignette: You can visit wreck sites without looting.

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