Thursday 15 April 2021

Newly-Discovered UK Roman Site Raided by Thieves (Updated)

           aerial view of core of site under excavation.         

Yesterday the heritage body Historic England announced that the ruins of a unique circular building with a bath-house had been found in the village of Eastfield near Scarborough and that the structure did not match the design of any other villas discovered in either Britain or Europe. And overnight, the site was raided by thieves  (Grace Newton, 'Nighthawkers [sic] have illegally accessed the remains of a Roman villa in a village near Scarborough just hours after Historic England publicly revealed the find', Yorkshire Post Thursday, 15th April 2021)
The excavation commenced when surveys on the land suggested there could be archaeology present after developer Keepmoat was given permission to build housing on the site. Keepmoat have funded security as Historic England staff believed trespass attempts by 'nighthawkers' - metal detectorists who seek to illegally remove artifacts from historic monuments - were 'inevitable' after the details of the planning application to Scarborough Council entered the public domain. They managed to breach security on Wednesday night and inspector of ancient monuments Keith Emerick confirmed that they had damaged the buildings and possibly removed items. A full inventory is now being carried out and Keepmoat have upgraded their security provision. North Yorkshire Police have been informed. The incident has marred celebrations by archaeologists who have overcome lockdown restrictions and adverse weather conditions to record the discovery of a generation.
This shows again how vulnerable archaeological sites are in the UK where theives act with impunity and treat them as places where they can just help themselves to anything they want.

Update 17th April 2021

Despite efforts of metal detectorists to play this down, new details have emerged: is unclear why metal detectorists would try to make excuses for thieving metal detectorists and pretend this is not happening. the article says also: "It has also been revealed that there have been previous episodes of illegal metal detecting in the Eastfield area".

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