Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Artefact Hunters Damage Hadrian's Wall Again

Brunton Turret (Copyright Historic England)
Illegal treasure hunters have damaged part of Hadrian's Wall, experts claim. BBC 20th Jumne 2018
[..] metal detectorists are blamed for more than 50 holes found around the 1,900-year-old Brunton Turret section, near Hexham, Northumberland. Historic England said those responsible were searching for loot such as Roman coins and military regalia. Other areas of the ancient wall, a World Heritage site, have been targeted. Historic England said it was working with police to try and find those responsible. But it added it was not practical to install security measures like CCTV along the stretch of the wall. The 73-mile (117km) wall stretches between Wallsend in North Tyneside and Bowness on Solway in Cumbria and has about 160 scheduled monuments, which include Roman camps, forts and signal stations. Anyone using a metal detector without authorisation on these sites is committing a criminal offence.
Mike Collins, Inspector of Ancient Monuments, is the one roped in to do the usual bit of fluff-talk "We know that the majority of the metal detecting community complies with the laws and regulations regarding discovery and recovery of objects from the land. "But the small number of people who steal artefacts and damage ancient sites [...]" Mr Collins might like to tell us how we know that. Can he? Or is this just waffle? How does he 'know' how many people do things they are hardly going to be bragging about?
He said the majority of items taken were sold on, some via online auction sites, with others being bought by individual collectors.
Again, how do we know that? No artefact hunter acting illegally in the UK has a collection of their own? That would be going against what we know of illegal artefact hunting in other countries. The upshot of what Mr Collins is saying is if we block those sales, we'll stop the majority of what he calls 'nighthawking'. Is that true? Dealers, what do you say about this?


David Gill said...

I made this point about Hadrian's Wall in my review of 'heritage crime' in Antiquity.

Unknown said...

Detectorists are not criminals, criminals are criminals regardless of what tools a thief uses they are simply a thief.

Paul Barford said...

But was it or was it not artefact hunters who damaged this site? Its the activity that is a problem, not the tools they use. Neither does it make a difference who they are and whether they have the law on their side or not, the activity itself is DAMAGING and is a matter for concern.

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