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Yeavering Bell looted
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From today's Guardian site - the fuckers.

Thieves pillage Iron Age fort

Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent
Monday October 21, 2002
The Guardian

Nighthawks, archaeological thieves operating with metal detectors, have ransacked the slopes of one of Northumberland's most important Iron Age hilltop forts, Yeavering Bell.
Working overnight, and on the far side of the hill from the nearest houses, they left the fort pitted with holes, 34 in all. Scraps of metal suggest they may have found and looted ancient bronze.

The attack, on a site which has never been excavated, is one of the most determined in recent years, and has shocked archaeologists in an area which has so far been relatively free of the scourge.

Lord Redesdale, head of the parliamentary committee on archaeology, who is also a landowner in the county, described the attack on the fort as tragic. "This is a national problem, and an area in which the government has been re ally feeble in coming forward with legislation."

Although digging with a metal detector without the permission of the landowner is an offence, unless the nighthawks are caught in the act the law is virtually powerless. There is still no specific offence in law of trading in illicit archaeological artefacts. Archaeologists have been demanding reform, and some would ban the sale of archaeological artefacts without a provable provenance.

Roger Bland, of the British Museum, coordinator of the portable antiquities scheme which encourages legal metal detector users to report finds, said the legislation - which the government has agreed to in principle, but has not found time for - is urgently needed.

"This wouldn't impact on the looters directly but it should make it harder for them to sell their ill-gotten gains, because it would introduce a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment."

Archaeologists from the Northumberland national park authority were anguished to discover tiny scraps of decorated bronze in some of the holes which may have been fragments of ornate vessels of ritual significance which would have thrown light on the history of the construction, use and eventual abandonment of the hill forts.

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Posted by Rhiannon
21st October 2002ce

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Re: Yeavering Bell looted (FourWinds)
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