Monday 23 May 2022

UK Detectorist: "Only The Pandemic Stopped Me Trespassing"


The BBC reckons it needed to run a story about an artefact hunter explaining why he did it illegally ('Nighthawking: Metal detectorist explains why he broke the law' 21.05.2022)
A metal detectorist has explained why he broke the law to go "nighthawking" on private land in search of buried treasure. Peter, from Southampton, used to go out at night two or three nights a week [...] Peter has been metal detecting for 18 years, and said he only gave up going out at night after a famer gave him permission to search on his land. [...] Peter, 64, said [...] that his finds over the years had not made him rich. "I found a gold ring once, a roman brooch, buckles, but never any gold coins," he said. "I used to keep it but I met a collector and cashed it all in and paid off my rent arrears. Everyone thinks it makes you rich, but it doesn't.
In fact this article does NOT explain why "Pete" "broke the law", or even thought he was entitled to. It lightly passes over the promised meat of the story just to say that he "stopped" when one landowner gave him search-and-take permission. This should have been explained in more detail, a "nighthawk" is just a bloke who'd not got aound to asking?

Then there is the usual. After an object-centred "what if?", Mark Harrison Head of Heritage Crime Strategy at Historic England said illegal artefact hunting was "stealing our past" but "the majority of detectorists were law-abiding and reported their finds". Well, the latter part of that sentence is complete bollocks. The two do not go together at all, and the majority of finds quite clearly are not being reported, no matter how you measure it.

Meanwhile Barely-repentant "Pete" is not reported to be feeling that he should be giving back those artefacts to the landowners he took them from. Neither are teh circumstances that led to him asking for and getting that first "permission" and what any of that had to do with the pandemic.

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