Saturday 16 March 2013

Metal Detecting at Whitby Abbey

Delphine Jasmin-Belisle outside Whitby Abbey  
Police are investigating after staff doing a daily patrol of the grounds at Whitby Abbey earlier on this month found that some areas of them had been dug up by opportunist metal detectors. There are five separate sites of earth which appear to have been disturbed with spade marks clearly visible in the ground. Graffiti had been left on the walls and signs at the site.
Staff at the abbey said they had not heard of metal detecting taking place in the grounds before and while signs could be replaced, the damage within the grounds was far more serious. Delphine Jasmin-Belisle said: “Little things like that are frustrating. We can replace signage but for me as the supervisor of the site and having a background in archaeology, the metal detecting is far worse. “There was some excavation in the 1920s and 90s but there are large parts that have not been explored and they are particularly dangerous. If someone was to go with a metal detector and have a look around with a shovel we don’t know what we could lose. “They could have found a coin a visitor dropped last year or a ring from the 12th century.” Whitby police say the incidents took place between Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 March. PC Melanie Smith added: “Whitby Abbey is a historic property and it is beyond comprehension what anyone has to gain by damaging our heritage
But that is exactly what artefact hunters do, day in day out on historic sites all over the country. What is really beyond comprehension is that British law lets them. As for why they do it, its to find metal objects which they greedily keep or flog off, that - PC Melanie Smith - is what they have to gain. they selfishly gain, the rest of us lose something. 

Whitby Gazette, ”Vandalism shock at Whitby Abbey" Whitby Gazette 11 March 2013

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