Friday, 18 November 2022

Detectorists' Finds Among Items Reportedly Missing from Northern UK Council Store

The Express newspaper has reported UK police are investigating the disappearances of potential treasures from council storerooms: "Metal detectorists' possible treasures 'worth thousands' vanish from safety of store room" (Ian Randall, Nov 14th 2022):

An investigation has been launched after a spate of disappearances of potential treasures from secured council storerooms — amid fears of an inside job. The missing artefacts were unearthed by metal detectorists across Cumbria and Lancashire over the last four years, and are believed to have been worth thousands of pounds in total. The finds had been handed over to the authorities, pending an inquest to determine whether or not they officially constituted treasures. However, the detectorists fear that the missing items may now have been secreted into the antiquities black market. One unnamed metal detectorist told the Sun: “This is devastating for us personally but also for the nation. “Some of these items had not been held by human hands since the Bronze Age. “But after we found them and passed them to officials, they have vanished into thin air.”

Another detectorist, Peter Major of Barrow — whose finds had included a set of 3,500-year-old, Bronze Age [pal]stave axe heads — added: “For two-and-a-half years I heard nothing, so went to see them and was told that one of my axe heads and all the coins had vanished. “I began speaking to other detectorists and was shocked to find I wasn’t alone.” [...] A British Museum spokesperson said: ‘As the investigation is ongoing it would not be appropriate to comment any further at this stage.’
'Further'? On the forums, information gathering is in full flow:
Post by justinbell » Mon Nov 14, 2022 9:11 pm Missing items from PAS Evening all, I wondered if any other members have had notification about finds being either lost, misplaced or even stolen from / by the PAS in Cumbria". [...] "This topic has 31 replies You must be a registered member and logged in to view the replies in this topic".
So the public cannot see what is happening to the public's heritage, eh? Smart move guys.

Comments underneath the Express article include:
Phoenixxxx 6 HRS AGO
So let me get this right? By law you have to give it to a bunch of toffs at the Council and they then potentially go on holiday and build an extension?

Rombalds way 1 DAY AGO
And they have the cheek to bang on about night hawks and stealing the nations heritage. This is disgusting and I'd be absolutely fuming if it was my finds stolen.

Walter Drizzle 1 DAY AGO
A cop out by the British Museum... no comment. It's all going the way of not my problem. Then who's responsible for finds to be kept safe.

happy wanderer 3 DAYS AGO
Do the right thing then find it’s been stolen. Better not handing it in then
Let us just be clear, because it seems the Express' journalist is not, if any objects have been mislaid in or from the Preston storerooms, it is not just the finders that are deprived of them but landowners are deprived of their property. Did the BM press release on behalf of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and its partners neglect to say this?

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