Monday, 20 May 2013

900 looted artefacts recovered in Norfolk

Unlike the tragic situation in England and Wales, treasure hunters in the Republic of Ireland need a licence to search or dig and are obliged, by law, to report any finds or face up to five years in jail and a fine of 63,500 euro. Not everybody however plays along and the public interest is damaged:
Almost 900 artefacts illegally looted in Ireland by a treasure hunter with a metal detector have been recovered. [...] The items were recovered following a tip-off from the British Museum to the National Museum of Ireland last year when an important hoard of medieval silver coins had been exported illegally to the UK. Seamus Lynam, acting director of the National Museum, said the recovery underlines the continuing threat posed to Ireland's archaeological heritage by people using metal detectors. "Many items similar to those recovered have been offered for sale in recent times over the internet and are the subject of on-going investigations," he said. "The recovery shows the determination of the National Museum, the gardai and other State bodies to protect the nation's heritage and demonstrates the ability to recover important heritage objects even when they have been illegally removed from the jurisdiction." The collection was amassed by a British man living in Co Tipperary who worked closely with an associate in the Norfolk area to pass the goods on. The treasure hunter died in May 2012. 
["Pass the goods on" is of course a euphemism for "flog off"]. After the tip-off, officers from Norfolk Constabulary made a visit to his house and found a number of dugup metal objects including 30 hammered coins, a flat copper axe dating to the Early Bronze Age and Bronze Age spear-head. There was also an undeclared hoard of 28 medieval hammered silver coins from the reigns of Edward I- III (1272-1377). The Irish-based detectorist's widow (on whose behalf, perhaps, the British-based tekkie was selling them?) apparently surrendered the artefacts and they were seized. All are believed to have been illegally removed from Ireland between 2009 and 2012. Some of them are said in the reports to be worth "several thousand euros" - one wonders to what extent the landowners on whose property they were found and who let the detectorist take them were actually appraised of the prices they would realise on the open market.
The recovery of the items, which are believed to have been taken from a number of sites in Tipperary, was the culmination of an investigation that began last year after the British Museum was alerted to messages on the internet where metal detecting in Ireland was being discussed.
Blooming stupid, isn't it, that one side of a line on a map they look after the buried heritage, while the other side of the line, in the same group of islands off the coast of Europe, they do not. In their attempts to dominate the island, the English have long look(ed) down on the Irish, but here's at least one area where the Irish have surpassed their backward insular neighbours.

So, who was the dead tekkie who flaunted the law? 

Anon, '900 looted artefacts recovered', Belfast Telegraph 20th May 2013.

Elaine Keogh, 'Looted artefacts recovered in UK to go on display', Irish Times  20th May 2013.


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