Five men from Tameside, Greater Manchester, admitted to illegally detecting at Beeston Castle in Cheshire and Roche Abbey in South Yorkshire.
As well as being fined a total of £4,000, they were handed a five-year Criminal Behaviour Order. This bans them from being in possession of a metal detector on National Heritage sites. On other sites they must have express written permission to detect from the landowner, who must be made aware of the CBO. Their metal detectors, considered to be worth £1,000 each, were also seized.
All the stolen artefacts have been forfeited. These included coins and Bronze Age axe heads, which have been gifted to a local museum.
Reaction from Historic England
Mark Harrison, Head of Heritage Crime Strategy for Historic England said “A decade ago, we did not have the skills and techniques necessary to investigate this form of criminal behaviour. We have now developed the expertise, capability and partnerships to identify and prosecute the small criminal minority of nighthawks. The overwhelming majority of metal detectorists comply with the legislation and codes of practice.”
Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s regional director for the North West said “The overwhelming majority of metal detecting is done legally, but these guys are outsiders, a small minority, stealing valuable history; it’s unacceptable and it’s illegal. The last thing we want to do is say don’t go out metal detecting. If you are interested, go and join a properly formed group. We love the fact people are interested about history. Go out and explore history – but do it the right way.“