On the 21st of June a partnership of leading Heritage organisations
launched The Nighthawking Survey, a major investigation into the problem
of nighthawking - the illegal search for and removal of antiquities from
the ground using metal detectors, without the permission of the
Not only does nighthawking damage archaeological and historical sites,
it can cause great distress and disruption to farmers and landowners,
and it blackens the reputation of law-abiding metal detectorists, who
contribute much to the understanding of our past. The practice of
nighthawking has been around for more than three decades, and there is
plenty of anecdotal information about it, but attempts to stop it have
been hampered by a lack of hard information on the extent of the
problem. How widespread a problem is it? Where does it occur? How often
does it occur? How many people are involved? What happens to the stolen
The survey will cover the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and the
Dependencies of The Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey and is being
undertaken by Oxford Archaeology. The project is funded by English
Heritage, Historic Scotland, Cadw, The National Museum Wales and the
Portable Antiquities Scheme, with support from Guernsey Museums, Jersey
Heritage Trust, Manx National Heritage, National Museum of Scotland and
Northern Ireland (Environment and Heritage Service).
The centrepiece of this survey is an online questionnaire, aimed at
members of the public, archaeologists, landowners, antiquities dealers -
anybody who may have information on nighthawking. The questionnaire will
be backed up by voluntary personal interviews, and a review of the
current legislation and its effectiveness.
The aim of the survey is to provide information that will help the
political and law
enforcement agencies to devise ways to combat nighthawking and help
preserve our heritage.
The questionnaire is available at www.nighthawking.thehumanjourney.net
and will stay open until the end of 2007.
For further information email [log in to unmask]