Monday 25 August 2014

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Illegal Metal Detecting in Wales

Readers may remember the two metal detectorists who targeted the site at Llanymynech caves in Powys, Wales. It is now being reported (Ben Goddard, 'Row over bones discovery' News North Wales, 24 August 2014) that the search which discovered bones in a Roman copper mine on the Powys border may have been done illegally.
Chris Martin, head of curatorial services at Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, says that the site is labelled a ‘scheduled ancient monument site’ by the Welsh Government's historic environment service (Cadw) meaning no metal detecting should have taken place or digging done without permission. He said: “It is very possible that nobody told the metal detectors that this was a protected site and certainly no bones should have been dug up or removed in this way. “It’s also quite possible the police didn’t know they shouldn’t have been doing this. To use metal detectors on this site they would have had to seek permission from the government. [...] This is one of the largest ancient monument sites in Wales and any digging on the site would have had to have permission by Cadw.” 
There seems to be something in the British archaeologists' brain which reacts to the trigger-word "metal detectorist" by switching to some alternative-logic circuits and makes them say stupid things.  Chris Martin should perhaps consider whether "nobody told me you need a driving licence" and "nobody told me you should never drink and drive" or "take lead from church roofs" and "bulldozer a Medieval castle flat" is any kind of excuse for criminal activity. Of course it is not. There is a Code of Practice for responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales which talks about things like scheduled sites and human remains - but it's voluntary - innit?

Obviously what would raise public awareness is a name-and-shame prosecution here. Mr Martin, if these reports are true,care to submit a statement in an official capacity to the Dyfed-Powys Police?

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