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Full Version: Plundering our national treasure: Inside Out on trail of the South's illegal treasure hunters
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A new BBC South Inside Out investigation has revealed the threat posed to the South of England's heritage by illegal treasure hunters.

For the programme, to be screened tonight (Monday 9 November) on BBC One in the South, Joe Crowley and the Inside Out team use heat-seeking cameras and infra-red equipment to catch the criminals in the act at a protected heritage site in Sussex.

To save the site from further attack, by what is called "nighthawking", its location is not revealed.

But one of the nighthawks is not so lucky and, when asked why he's out in the middle of the night with a metal detector and a spade, he threatens to assault the BBC crew.

And the man's concern about being caught is understandable as Joe discovers that nighthawking can be a very profitable business.

There are sites like the one in Sussex across the country, designated as "scheduled monuments", that are of tremendous historical importance.

Often these sites haven't yet been excavated and their underground monuments need to be preserved intact to be carefully and delicately excavated by archaeologists at a later date if necessary.

But, as the programme highlights, these sites' hidden treasures are becoming ill-gotten gains for unscrupulous individuals. :face-plain:

Inside Out and The Nighthawks can be seen on BBC One South at 7.30pm on Monday 9 November 2009 or watch again on BBC iPlayer at
Could be interesting. I'm not going to be able to watch it tonight, can anyone put some comments up after seeing it?

gilescarey - clip from programme - is all I've seen. But makes for interesting viewing and at least it raises the issue of nighthawks. I just hope that this filters through to the relevant people in the Crown Prosecution Service. They seem to need a reminder that heritage crime is still crime and needs treating as such!
I agree heritage crime is still crime and needs treating as such!
I can tell you that many people are now working on tracking these guys down.

A Night hawker is a thief with a metal detector.. not a metal detectorist.
Are all car drivers drunk drivers?


i agree with you totally gary; my comments were aimed solely at nighthawkers.

The full programme

and hearteningly detectorists are standing up against them. Named, shamed.

This is something that both detectorists and archaeologists can get behind ? Who knows - English Heritage might discuss the idea of Topsoil SAM detecting - I contacted them a few times this year, but was told they wer busy and would get back to me after Easter. Cooperative pre-emptive work on disturbed soils. Good for us all and bad for the nighthawk! :face-confused:


Don't English Heritage "seed" these sensitive sites to gve false signals to these criminals?
No... indeed it would be a good idea (that has been put to them) that the most 'hawked' sites are cleared of topsoil finds every year... making them less attractive. Together we can make a difference.

A detector can easily discriminate out certain signals. plus... happy is the farmer who has all this seeding! It has been tried before with washers.. however, it just means you discriminate it out and look for whatever 'they' are trying to hide.
Indeed .. now that the programme is out. Here is the Nightime Butterfly Hunter (in the attachments). and the thermal image of them on the Scheduled monument (allegedly!)

[Image: e3364eb6c258f7bf806f26829e590ab99c750287.jpg]


Using washers might have worked in the 1980's, but I'm sure that the addition of bits of tin foil or the like would work quite well today. Maybe EH could produce a subsidised fertiliser for the farmers with added chaff :p
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