A series of unauthorised archaeological excavations along Hadrian’s Wall has raised concerns about the impact such activity is having on the ancient structure.
Concerns have been raised by the Police, English Heritage, National Trust and Northumberland National Park Authority following the recent discovery of damage from illegal metal detecting on Hadrian’s Wall, and the impact that this activity, sometimes known as ‘nighthawking’, is having on the archaeology of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.
Recent months have seen the appearance of a series of unlawful excavations on National Trust land at Steel Rigg and Peel Crags, both sites are situated along Hadrian’s Wall within the Northumberland National Park. These sites are legally protected as Scheduled Ancient Monuments, and it is a criminal offence to use metal detecting equipment without proper authorisation from English Heritage.
Mark Harrison, English Heritage National Crime Advisor said: “The practice of ‘nighthawking’, particularly from such important sites as Hadrian’s Wall, is an issue that we take very seriously. We recognise that the majority of the metal detecting community comply with the laws and regulations relating to the discovery and recovery of objects from the land, but just as it is against the law to break into someone’s house and steal their possessions, so it is illegal to damage land and steal valuable historical artefacts. The objects they are stealing belong to the landowner, in this case the National Trust, and the history they are stealing belongs to all of us.”