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Metal Detecting News 2018

Metal Detecting News 2018

The world of metal detecting never stands still. There’s always some new controversy with which members of the community must contend. 

Here, we present a rundown of the top metal detectorist news stories from 2018, month by month. We’ll cover everything from the latest complaints from landowners to detectorists unwilling to share their hoards. Read on to find out more: 


January

Metal Detectorists Unearth A £250,000 Roman Gold Haul, Only To Later Find It Is Worthless

Imagine unearthing a haul of gold coins you believe are worth more than £250,000, only to later discover that they are entirely worthless. 

Well, that’s precisely what happened to Andy Sampson and Paul Adams when they stumbled upon a haul of what they believed were 54 pristine gold Roman coins. 

Adams called out to his partner, exclaiming “Roman gold! Roman gold!” excited by the find. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. 

It later transpired that what they had actually found, in an ironic twist of fate, were props from the BBC show, The Detectorists, which follows the story of a pair of hapless metal detecting enthusiasts as they for treasure in the British countryside. 

Sampson later described the pair as the world’s unluckiest detectorists. 


April

Detectorists Dig Up 800-Year-Old Coins In Oswestry

Things never stay quiet in the metal detectorist world for long. In April 2018, the news broke that Shropshire local Chris Langston had unearthed a set of 800 rare coins, dating from between 1180 and 1247 AD. 

Mr Langston was walking with a group of fellow metal detectorists from the USA and Australia when he stumbled upon a treasure trove of riches. 

The short-cross coins he found added to the already substantial toll of similar coins found throughout the county, bringing the total to 14. Archaeologists hope that the new findings will let them piece together more of the history of the area and find out where trade was happening. 


June

Police In Bognor Regis Release CCTV Footage Of A Man Engaged In Illegal Metal Detecting, Sparking Local Outcry

Police released footage in June 2018 purporting to show a man metal detecting in Bognor park, something that the police said was against the law. 

Locals were furious that the police were dedicating resources to chasing a man peacefully scanning the park with his detector instead of going after shoplifters and other criminals that plague the town. 

A former councillor said that it was a “joke” that the police spent time trying to track the man down. 

The police later claimed that illegal metal detecting is a scourge. Each time a metal detectorist finds a treasure and sells it on, the community “loses a part of its history.” 

 

Rogue Metal Detectorists Pillage Hadrians’ Wall


Hadrian's Wall is one of the best-preserved Roman historical sites in Britain. The monument stretches nearly 72 miles from the west coast to the east. 

In June 2018, however, the news broke that metal detectorists had made more than sixty holes along the length of the wall in search of ancient, valuable Roman treasure. 


Historic England says that ancient monuments like Hadrians Wall are easily damaged by illegal detectorists, causing loss and damage to “shared cultural history.” 


The organization admitted that the vast majority of metal detectors comply with the law but stated that illegal nighthawkers were becoming more of a concern. 


Historic England claims that illegal detectorists are breaking the law and “robbing the knowledge and understanding” that objects of the past provide. 


August 

Detectorists Uncover Evidence Of High-Status Community Dating To The Founding Of York

York has a long history. The Romans called it Eboracum, but most archaeologists don't believe it was initially a significant settlement.  

York’s position in the region, however, is now being reinterpreted, thanks to a find by detectorist pair Robert Hamer and Robin Siddle of Priscan Archaeology. 

The two men unearthed a large stash of gold coins near York, suggesting that the city may have been a high-status settlement for the Romans from the start. Archaeologists must now do more work to interpret the findings. 

 

Metal Detectorist Finds His Late Wife’s Wedding Ring On A Beach After Losing It On A Fishing Trip

They say it is a small world, but for Alan Hall, that old aphorism became all too real. 

Janet Hall, Alan Hall’s wife, died in September 2017. Following her death, he began wearing her wedding ring as a symbol of her memory. 

Unfortunately, during a fishing trip, the ring fell off Mr Hall’s finger onto the beach as the tide was coming in. 

Mr Hall looked for the ring for several hours but eventually had to call off his search as the waters rose. 

He was very upset. The ring was a reminder of the 48-year relationship that he had had with his wife. 

Later, the 69-year-old returned to the site with his metal detector and found the ring, still there on the beach, much to the relief of the rest of his family. 


Roman Mega-Villa Bigger Than The Taj Mahal Found In Oxfordshire By Metal Detectorists

Amateur metal detectorist Keith Westcott was searching in a crop field close to Broughton Castle near Banbury when he found a host of ancient artefacts, including coins and boar tusks from ancient times. 

Following the discovery, a team of archaeologists then descended on the site and began a four-month excavation that would see the unearthing of an enormous 85 metre by 85 metre Roman Villa, the largest ever discovered on British soil and bigger than the Taj Mahal. 


September

The Big Detectival Attracts 1,000-Plus People To Leafield Near Witney In Oxfordshire

Right at the heart of the UK’s metal detectorist scene is the two-day Big Detectival, a festival that attracts metal detectorists from as far away as the United States. 

In 2018, more than 1,000 people attended the event, hosted on a plot of land near to Witney, a small town in rural Oxfordshire. 

Metal detecting is popular all over the world, but the laws in the UK are more relaxed than elsewhere, including Europe. Thus, Britain is prime metal detecting real estate, especially given its rich history, stretching back to the start of the neolithic. 

Every year, the Big Detectival organises a mass metal detecting expedition to unearth buried treasure for archaeologists to analyse. In 2017, detectorists uncovered an impressive 500 distinct objects of historical importance. 


Aarhus University And Museums In Denmark Launch The DIME Tool To Track Metal Detecting Finds 

For years, metal detectorists have been clamouring for a tool that will allow them to track finds and share them with other people. 

Now, Aarhus University along with the Historical Museum of Northern Jutland, Odense City Museum and Moesgaard Museum has announced the launch of a service for metal detectorists called DIME.

The collaboration hopes to make it easier for people in Denmark, Germany and France to share locations of possible archaeological significance. 


November

Four Metal Detectorists Face Jail After Uncovering Angle-Saxon And Viking Treasure And Selling It On The Black Market

In November the news broke that four metal detectorists from Herefordshire had failed to declare their discovery of historical treasures to the authorities. Now each faces a possible prison sentence of up to seven years. 

The four men, named as Simon Wicks, 56, Paul Wells, 59, Layton Davies, 50 and George Powell, 37, found an assortment of relic near the town of Leominster in 2015, including gold and silver coins, arm bracelets and a crystal sphere. They did not declare the find and conspired to sell them on the black market. 

The men were charged with breaking the law under the Dealing in Cultural Objects Offenses Act of 2003. 


December

Dorset Detectorist Paul Wood Sells Aristocratic Seal Ring For £10,000

Back in 2016, Paul Wood, a 64-year-old metal detectorist from Dorset, was exploring an area around Witney in Oxfordshire, when he stumbled across an incredible find - a gold seal ring believed to date between the late 1500s and early 1700s. 

At the time the find was hailed as a discovery of a lifetime. Nothing more related to the story happened, however, until Wood sold the ring at auction for a massive £10,000. Auctioneers believe that the seal ring belonged to the wealthy Skynner family who resided in the Oxfordshire area from the 13th century.


Nighthawkers Illegally Descend On Suffolk Farm

Following the success of the BBC television series, the detectorists, the country saw a massive rise in the number of people taking up metal detecting as a hobby. 

While most did so legally, some did not, descending on farms in the dead of night without the permission of the landowner. 

The police dubbed these detectorists “nighthawkers,” a term which has added greatly to their mystique. Who are these people who stalk the land at night, looking for buried treasure? 

Seargent Brian Calver of Suffolk’s Rural and Wildlife Crime Team said that nighthawking had been a problem in Suffolk for many years, thanks to the promise of Anglo-Saxon treasures lurking beneath the soil. Most of the crime, he said, happens on nights immediately after farmers freshly plough their fields. 





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