Metal detector gangs illegally targeting Britain’s buried treasure

One of Britain’s most cherished monuments is being attacked by metal detector gangs hunting for buried treasure, it has been claimed.

Hadrian's Wall, one of England's great monuments

Hadrian's Wall, one of England's great monuments Image by quisnovus / CC BY 2.0

Heritage groups have warned that this “nighthawking” will rob Britain of its past if it is not stopped, BBC news reported. Such illegal sweeping is commonplace across the spine of the east of England, which is also causing damage and strife to landowners.

Areas such as Lincolnshire, Sussex, East Anglia and Kent, which are sites of some of England’s earliest settlements, are among those earmarked by criminals scouring the land looking to take possession of valuable relics left by our ancestors.

One place coming under attack is Hadrian's Wall which attracts half a million visitors every year. The unlawful excavations in the Northumberland National Park have been found at Steel Rigg and Peel Crags. This site is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and it is a criminal offence to use metal detecting equipment unless there is express permission from English Heritage.

The National Trust countryside manager for the Hadrian's Wall Country Group, Eric Wilton, said they had spent a lot of money on preserving the site, adding that it was devastating when nighthawkings happened.