With Cadw, Historic Scotland, National Museum Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, English Heritage funded Oxford Archaeology to undertake a survey of ‘Nighthawking’ (the illegal search for and removal of antiquities from the ground using metal-detectors) to attempt to establish the impact and suggest appropriate responses. The survey covered the whole of the UK and Crown Dependencies, with support in kind provided by Guernsey Museums Service, Jersey Heritage Trust, Manx National Heritage, The National Museums Scotland and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
The survey sought information from as many groups and interests as possible, including farmers and landowners, metal detectorists, archaeological societies and members of the general public, as well as Heritage professionals. Representatives of the National Council for Metal Detecting acted as observers on the Project Board.
Understandably data proved difficult to collect as the project was concerned with illegal and clandestine activity, as had proved to be the case in a previous survey undertaken in 1995 (C Dobinson and S Dennison Metal detecting and Archaeology in England, CBA). The 1995 survey was primarily concerned with illicit detecting on scheduled monuments and raids on ongoing archaeological excavations, although wider issues were covered. The present survey sought to cover all illicit activity, whether sites benefit from any type of protection or not.
The Nighthawking Survey
Publication Date: 16 Feb 2009
In November 2006 Oxford Archaeology was commissioned by English Heritage to carry out a survey looking into the extent of illegal searching and removal of antiquities from archaeological sites.
Nighthawks & Nighthawking
Publication Date: 01 Apr 2009
Between 2007 and 2008 Oxford Archaeology, commissioned by English Heritage, conducted a major investigation into the crime of Nighthawking, the illegal search for and removal of antiquities from the ground by criminals using metal detectors.
The Guide to Heritage Protection in England
We have written the most comprehensive online guide to the heritage protection system. The Guide to Heritage Protection in England contains 90 pages of textbook advice on how the law, policy and guidance that protects England's heritage assets works, with links to all the source documents.
It also contains a glossary of nearly 200 heritage terms of art authoritatively defined. The guide will be kept up-to-date with any changes in law and policy. We hope that this will become the starting point for all enquiries as to how the protection systems works.
The guide includes a section on unauthorised works and heritage crime.