Friday 2 December 2011

Twinstead Theft: Police Appeal to "Law Abiding" Metal Detectorists

For those truly law abiding "metal detectorists" who were at the Twinstead rally and did not take part in the theft of gold coins, the police contact (for reporting those who did) is the Essex Police's heritage crime officer PC Andy Long.

Telephone: 01621 869851
Telephone: 0300 333 4444
Mobile: 07977512068

PC Long is quoted by the BBC, saying: "All the coins found on the site are protected by the Treasure Act. They are treasure trove and have to be declared to the county coroner. We would urge anyone who has taken any of the coins or knows of their whereabouts to contact us immediately". Go on, shop a law-breaker - these people are the so-called "nighthawks" that the responsible metal detecting fraternity despises and would (they say) like to see locked-up. Do it.

And what about the Castle Hedingham Scout Group whose dubious means of fundraising provided the opportunity for this theft to take place? Will they be accepting the money now the whole affair has been embroiled in national scandal? Since some of it will have been donated by those coin thieves who abused the rally entrance fee to steal from the farmer, accepting it hardly seems in line with the Boy Scouts' dib-dib-dib-dob-dob-dob 'Code of Honour'. But in today's Yobbo-UK, that probably counts for a lot less these days than when I was a lad.

Vignette: Britain's police.


kyri said...

this sums up metal detecting in a nutshell.i hope trevor austin is taking notice and maybe he will stop saying that metal detectors are just amautre archaeologists.i have never seen archaeologists fighting over a pot shard.
metal detecting is not the niche hobby it was 25 years ago,with new detectorists swelling the ranks of clubs up and down the country,its obvious that there are many unscrupulous people taking up the hobby.i feel sory for the old school detectorists that genuinely love their countrys cultural history and respect it.they are a dying breed.they are a minority in my opinion.
what these detectorists did is plain theft and its not the first time,or ,im sure the last.mind you it is ammusing to see all the back tracking and scare tactics to force the finders to do what they should have done in the first place.

Cartouche1953 said...

Paul, I read but have never felt the need to post on your blog but i'm icensed by this post. As an ex scout leader and with a son in the Scouts it is wholly unfair and outrageous to drag the Boy Scout Movement into this murkey mire.

I politely ask that you moderate your Blog and stop dragging the Boy Scouts into this.

Paul Barford said...

Absolutely not, the Scouts are right in the centre of this.

The Castle Hedingham Scouts rather disgustingly agreed to take money generated by the commercial non-sustainable plundering of the fragile and finite archaeological record for collectables. Whether they did this happily or reluctantly - or after no or much deliberation - I could not say, but the fact is the money was being raised to support them. Thus making the winstead grabfest one of those "Charity rallies" that tart-up the image of detecting (though in the case of Twinstead, with the unfortunate results that what lies behind the facade became all too visible).

Does the Boy Scout Movement now stand for (and eager to profit from) the commercial depletion of a finite resource for selfish reasons and personal gain? It certainly did not when I was a Scout, when I recall it as a rather environmentally conscious organization even then. Perhaps things have changed now. There is nothing here to indicate that today's Scouts gave the matter of profiting from a commercial artefact hunting rally a second thought.

Do you not consider that some of us have the right to feel that the Scouts should not be accepting money generated by unethical/immoral means? I think trashing the historical record for mere entertainment and profit is exactly the sort of questionable activity than an organization like the Scouts should be avoiding. What kind of "everything up for grabs" example are they setting the young lads like this?

When, however, in addition some of the money comes from an activity which involved criminal action - as here - if I were the leader of that scout troop, I would feel an OBLIGATION to refuse that money. Would not you?

Would you like your son to be associated with a Scout troop that not only got involved in money-making from erosive artefact hunting but also was taking money contributed by culture criminals? If your answer is "yes", where do YOU draw the line?

I would hope that the national coordinating body of Scoutmasters would as a result of this fiasco take a look at the sources of funds some of them profit from, and indicate that scoutmasters should no longer accept donations from, among other things, organizers of commercial artefact hunting rallies or similar erosive ventures.

It is not I "dragging the Scouts" into this, an Essex group of Scouts let themselves get involved IN it and I am commenting on that involvement of which I strongly disapprove, because I expect much more from an organization like that. This sort of thing demeans the ideals which that body for so long seemed - to us who were in it - to be upholding. If you disagree with me, then don't read any more posts where I say what I expect of the Scouts.

Anonymous said...

Exactly Paul.

Incidentally Harris Matrix, you're another that rings a bell with me - are you the metal detectorist that made multiple postings on the Heritage Journal saying you were an archaeologist and using the name “Harrismatrix man” and 3 other versions and in addition sharing your email address with both “Jennifer Grey” and “Geoff” and your IP address with both “Bozwaldo” and “Maximus”?

Cartouche1953 said...

I wonder whether or not you will publish this comment or not. If you don't, at least I know you will have read it but didn't have the guts or balls to publish it as part of the discussion or simply hide it away as being 'inconvenient' to your crusade. Let's see which you choose Paul?. Balls or contrition?

Do you honestly think the Scout movement is fully aware of the heritage conservation debate and all it postulations and ramifications. You yourself regularly mention how the UK press and it's pro detecting attitude seems to endorse the act of artefact finding and how this impacts on the UK populations mindset in an unfortunately positive manner. Is the Scout movement somehow ensconced from this attitude? Certainly not. Whilst their acceptance of fundraising in this matter may be (in our pinion) misguided, it is not premeditated or fully considered because they simply do not know the facts as seen from our perspective. Using your rationale, landowners who you now seem to be cosying up to are in the same boat as the scouts but I note in the recent tone of your Blog, you are now cosying up to landowners and saying they should be the ones to profit from metal detecting. Your message Paul seems to be a mixed one of late whilst you choose an eclectic path of dissemination of fact and fantasy.

The Scouts are not aware of the damage done to the Heritage record from our perspective, plain and simple. Media manipulation is the real enemy at the gate. The Scouts are just following the national consciousness regarding our lax attitudes. Misguided yes, guilty no.

So, lets see if you have the balls to publish this comment and discuss or will you conveniently (for you) hit the 'delete' button? I wait with bated breath.

Paul Barford said...


So, if the Scouting movement takes money from all who offer it without enquiring too deeply into where it comes from and what the implications are, then it jolly well deserves criticism.

I would say the Scouts SHOULD be aware of the conservation debate, if not the local troop leader in some titchy town in north rural Essex, the national body of scoutmasters who should be guiding them so they do not get themselves and the boys they "lead" into such a mess.

That they may or may not believe everything they read in the newspapers is no excuse. Ignorance is no excuse when surely one of the Scout messages is THINKing about the "CONSEQUENCES OF OUR ACTIONS".

No, I am not "cosying up with the landowners" in particular, rather concerned that it is clear that many of them are being ripped off by many of the artefact hunters, and I do not think that is right. It is not "cosying up" with a farmer who allowed a commercial artefact hunting rally to take place in his fields to say the LAW says the gold coins found there should have been reported and were not, and that until an inquest decides otherwise, the coins belong to him.

Paul Barford said...

@Heritage, would that be the same "Maximus" as on the "Candice Jarman" blog?

I've got this guy's ISP, I'll swap it off-blog and we'll see if its the same.

These stupid pseudonyms are a pain, why these people cannot state who they are properly beats me.

Cartouche1953 said...

I wonder what punishment will be handed out by the courts for those convicted?.Will they have the common sense to use this sorry state of affairs to send out a clear message that theft is not acceptable in whatever form.

Paul Barford said...

I wonder. So what about all those selling the other hoards, ancient dugup coin hoards illegally dispersed, from Bulgaria, Lower Egypt and so on, right under everybody's noses? When will they get what they deserve? Where are the police and customs investigations? How many hundreds, nay thousands, of times has the Dealing in Cultural property (Offences) Act been applied in the UK? How long can this go on? When is the clear message going to replace the government's "we will, some time in the future, maybe, do - perhaps - something about the illicit antiquities trade"?

kyri said...

karen,dont hold your breath,
in the history of the treasure act only ONE person [kate harding]has ever been convicted of not reporting a find.the result,a conditional discharge and a £25 fine.this is why nighthawking is so rife.
as a deterrent the treasure laws are toothless.a parking ticket costs more.
kyri. real greek name.

Cartouche1953 said...

The economic restraints upon goverments must be having a negative impact in this area as the funds and therefore the resources are simply not there to enforce the law. If a pol of the UK population was taken as to where a finite police budget should be spent, you can bet that cultural property offences would be down the bottom as it unfortunately does not even appear on most peoples moral radars. Meanwhile the rich people who got us in this economic mess are happily snaffling up the cultural property with their ill gotten financial gains. Time for a cultural revolution..........a cultural property revolution and lets take back what is rightfully ours.

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