Illegal metal detecting in Warminster area causes concern
Scratchbury Hill : WikiPedia
English Heritage and Wiltshire Police are concerned about a spate of illegal metal detecting at a nationally important archaeological site in the Warminster area.
The archaeology of the Warminster and Westbury area is exceptional and includes many important sites such as Battlesbury Hill, Cley Hill, Bratton Camp and Scratchbury Hill, all Iron Age hillforts over 2000 years old.
English Heritage staff recently visited the Scheduled Monument and have seen evidence of ground disturbance characteristic of the type made by metal detectorists and believe this heritage crime is not an isolated incident, with further holes likely to have been dug over the Christmas period.
Illicit metal detecting, also known as ‘nighthawking’is a form of theft, and those involved must not be confused with responsible metal detectorists who follow good practice guidelines, record and report their finds, and are valued contributors to the understanding of our shared heritage.
Inspector Lindsey Winter – Area Inspector for Warminster, Westbury, Tisbury and Mere said, “Many protected archaeological sites in Wiltshire are very popular places, but to hear that people are visiting these sites with the intention of stealing from the land is extremely disappointing.
The general public need to understand that illegal metal detecting is an offence, and that those people visiting sites for this purpose are not welcome. Wiltshire Police are working with English Heritage in relation to such matters and we will be dealing robustly with anyone we find committing offences.”
National Trust archaeologist Martin Papworth said: “This recent activity is of great concern. We have no idea what has been taken and the archaeological understanding and context of each item has now been lost.”
Mark Harrison, Policing and Crime Advisor for English Heritage said: “The practice of illegal metal detecting and stealing artefacts from the ground is an issue that English Heritage takes very seriously.
These are not people enjoying a hobby, nor professionals carrying out a careful study. Any objects removed belong to the landowner, and the history that is being stolen belongs to all of us. The theft of ancient artefacts robs us of important information about our heritage, and the artefacts themselves are lost to the public.
English Heritage will continue to work closely with our partners in preventing heritage crime and ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice.”