Sunday 10 February 2013

Continued Theft on Staffordshire Hoard Field: Including from "Security" Firm

Having recorded some digging activity at the Staffordshire Hoard findspot last week, Heritage Action's Nigel Swift went back there one week later and again inspected the site from outside the fence. He reports that there are new traces of activity. This includes fresh footprints around the holes he photographed last week. He asks whether they were traces of inspections by archaeologists or further interest in this area of the site by illegal artefact hunters. My own thoughts are that archaeologists with authorisation to be there would enter the site by the gate, not hop over the fence, and if some dangly straps got caught on the barbed wire, if they were visiting in broad daylight they'd retrieve it. A strap with d-ring clip caught on the barbed wire by the footprints does not look like the leavings of professional archaeologists. It is interesting that the stone I drew attention to here as a potential marker has been removed in the intervening week. Another of Mr Swift's recent photos resolves a mystery from last week. This photo - taken last Saturday - shows one of the holes recorded last week, and the photographer's attention was drawn by something shining with a 'metallic' (he suggested "gold coloured") glint in the field. We did not show it last week, but since the area has anyway been gone over by somebody in the last few days, there seems no point in not showing it now. I could not make out what two black lines on a fence strut at the bottom of the photos were.

Photo of holes is Staffordshire Hoard field just south of hoard findspot 2nd Feb 2013 (c) Nigel Swift
 Now all is clear:
Photo of holes is Staffordshire Hoard field just south of hoard findspot 9th Feb 2013 (c) Nigel Swift
Some time before last week, thieves had nicked the signs. Since Nigel's post (or maybe because of Nigel's post), the security company have been back, discovered their signs had been taken and put new ones up. If however they are not able to provide any security for their own signs on the outside of the site, directly visible from the road, how good is their security coverage of the area of this field (including the hoard findspot) which is not visible from the road? Who is paying this firm to 'watch' the site? The landowner? English Heritage? The County Archaeologist? The British Museum? The finder (to protect his reward from future reported finds)? A metal detecting club? An anonymous benefactor concerned about Britain's buried heritage?  Or is it a scam? [like my idjit neighbours who mounted a fake camera on the wall above an illegal car park and put up a notice claiming it was monitored]. 

[PS just for the record, last week it was my conclusion that the shiny thing in the field in the top photo was most likely bottle glass caught by the low sun]. 

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