Looters Are ScumFebruary 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Posted in News | Leave a comment
In our “Scavenging Code of Ethics,” Commandment #5 demands: “Don’t remove historical or archaeological artifacts from areas where they are protected…. As tempting as it might be, never ever remove any artifacts of any kind from protected sites such as these. It might feel like scavenging, especially when no one else is around, but there’s another name for it: looting. And it’s a scavenging no-no.” Historical-site plunderers give all scavengers a bad name. And they’ve become a real problem lately in Norfolk, on Great Britain’s east coast.
“Illegal metal-detectorists or ‘nighthawks’ are plundering historical sites in Norfolk on a weekly basis,” Norfolk Evening News 24 reports, “but too little is being done to arrest, prosecute and punish them…. Norfolk is one of the richest areas in the country for archaeological finds, but has the second highest number of cases of nighthawking after Lincolnshire, according to a survey published by English Heritage. Suffolk was in third place. Of 240 sites reported as raided between 1995 and 2008, 23 were in Norfolk, including a number of protected scheduled ancient monuments. Roman sites at Saham Toney, Brampton, Brancaster and Walsingham were among those targeted. In 1994 more than 400 holes were dug illegally inside the Roman town at Caistor St Edmund, near Norwich. Elsewhere, liaison with local metal-detectorists, landowners and the police has resulted in a number of successful prosecutions. David Gurney, acting county chief archaeologist, said: ‘I would be surprised if a week went by without somebody in Norfolk going on to a site illegally. It is a widespread problem. Many sites are being raided all across Norfolk but it is hard to know how many people are involved. Sometimes they can be quite organised. There have been instances with vans and quite large numbers of people in the back. They will post a couple of look-outs and then go about their business.’”
The looted items are usually kept by their finders or sold on the black market.