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This website is brought to you by a team of very passionate historians and metal detectorists. We are not part of the grab it and run brigade.
History is extremely important to us and recording finds and working alongside archaeologists is of utmost importance.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Staffordshire Hoard: More fragments found in Hammerwich


About 90 more pieces of treasure belonging to the Staffordshire Hoard have been found.

The discovery was made by archaeologists in the same Staffordshire field at Hammerwich where 3,500 pieces were found in 2009.

Some of the new pieces are fragments that fit with parts of the original hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver.

Parts of the original hoard are currently on display in Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham.

South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh will rule at an inquest on 4 January if the new metalwork pieces are part of the Staffordshire Hoard and should be declared treasure.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery jointly own the hoard, which includes gold and silver artefacts.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Mystery Axe Hoard


A hoard of bronze age axes, unearthed in Jersey recently, is turning into a mystery.

Examination of two of the axes has shown they are largely made of lead, which is not good for cutting. That in turn throws doubt on whether or not they were in fact functional tools. They could have been items of prestige.

The two axes were removed from a bronze age pot, which it has been determined through x-ray, contains another 21 similar axe-heads. These will now be removed and examined further.

The Late Bronze Age Hoard was discovered by metal detectorist Ken Rive on 7th October 2012.

Full Story


Viking treasure unearthed in North Yorkshire


A PAIR of metal detectorists stumbled across a fabulous hoard of Viking treasure as they scanned a field in North Yorkshire.

Stuart Campbell and Steve Caswell, who both work in the animal feed business, were checking farmland near Bedale when they came across a stash of gold and silver metalwork dating from the Viking age.

The hoard included an iron sword pommel inlaid with gold foil plaques, four gold hoops from the hilt of the sword and six small gold rivets.

There were also four silver collars and neck-rings, a silver arm-ring, a silver ring fragment, a silver brooch, and 29 silver ingots.

Full Story

Bid for lottery money to put priceless Roman coins found in Bath on show


Lottery money is being sought to put on display a priceless hoard of Roman coins found in Bath.

Experts have been amazed at the discovery of the Beau Street Hoard - a collection of around 22,000 coins dating back to 270AD uncovered by work on a new hotel in the city.

Now Bath and North East Somerset Council is hoping to win hundreds of thousands of pounds of lottery funds to acquire, conserve and display the treasures.

It has already secured £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help it plan a range of activities celebrating one of the largest hoards of Roman coins ever found in Britain.

The authority is planning a programme of 26 learning and community activities centred on the hoard and will be making a second application for a further £480,000 of HLF cash next summer.

It wants to take a roadshow around the B&NES area showing off some of the coins, and to properly display the hoard at the Roman Baths.

Full Story

Warrington woman's wedding ring safe thanks to metal detector club


WHEN Sandra Jackson’s wedding ring slipped off her hand and landed in Ackers Pit, Stockton Heath, the mum-of-two was convinced she would never see it again.

But thanks to South Lancashire and Cheshire Metal Detecting Club, based in Widnes, the Lower Walton grandma was delighted to be reunited with her ring of more than 38 years.

The 67-year-old, of Gainsborough Road, said: “I was so excited and upset at the same time when they said they had found it.

“We had tried and tried but had no joy for weeks and I thought swans could have eaten it or it was lost in the mud and then the metal detecting club found it in less than five minutes.”

Full Story

Norwich Castle Museum set to acquire 'curious' treasure


A gold earring disc, found in Norfolk by a metal detector enthusiast, has left treasure experts baffled as to the exact meaning of its decoration.

Discovered in Keswick, near Norwich, the disc "is an unusual find for the Roman period", said a Norwich Castle Museum spokesman.

It features a scorpion, phallus, snake and crab, but the meaning of the combination "is lost" an expert said.

The Norwich museum hopes to acquire the disc for its collection.

Full Story




Spanish treasure finally revealed after five year legal battle with US firm


Spanish authorities have revealed some of the treasures from a ship that sank more than 200 years ago.

The Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes galleon sank off Portugal’s coast near the straits of Gibraltar in 1804 with more than 500,000 silver coins.

Spain won a five-year legal dispute to claim ownership for the treasures found by a US firm.

Full Story

North Elmsall Brooch find is a real treasure


A silver medieval brooch that was found on farmland in September 2011, was confirmed as treasure by West Yorkshire coroner, David Hinchliff on Monday.

Under the Treaure Act of 1996, all items that are more than 300 years old and contain at least 10 per cent of gold or silver, must be reported to the coroner in the district they were found.

The treasure trove hearing was told how a Castleford man had been metal detecting on farmland with the permission of the farmer, when he came across the round brooch.

Recognising it as a ‘significant find’ he reported it to the local Portable Antiquities Service, which has been liaising with the British Museum in accordance with the law.

Mr Hinchliff said: “According to a museum expert, the find dated back to the 13th or 14th century.”

He added: “It’s nice to do these things rather than dealing with death and destruction like we usually do.”

Full Story

Priory and Roman settlement in Lewes to receive £188,000 boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund


The town of Lewes has played a vital but largely overlooked role in medieval religion, the birth of parliamentary democracy and in the development of Roman Britain.

Now the recognition of this historical importance will be given a major boost thanks to two projects made possible by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grants totalling almost £188,000.

The subjects of the grants are seen as being of national, if not international, significance. One is the ruined Priory of St Pancras, the other the site of a hitherto unmapped Roman settlement just north of the county town.

Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, said: “Taken together, these projects shine a light onto centuries of history when the town of Lewes and its surrounding area was a witness to some pivotal moments in the development of Britain.”

Putting Lewes Priory on the Map aims to give much greater prominence to the Priory of St Pancras, which was founded in the 11th century by William de Warenne – who had fought alongside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings – and his wife Gundrada.

Full Story

GLADIATOR GENERAL’S TOMB FALLS VICTIM TO ITALY’S AUSTERITY CUTS


On its discovery in 2008, it was hailed as one of the most significant Roman finds in decades. Digging down between the railway line and mechanics’ workshops where the Tiber winds its way north out of Rome, archeologists found the remains of a 45ft high structure fronted by four columns. This was what was left of the luxurious tomb of Marcus Nonius Macrinus, the swaggering Roman general whose ceaseless campaigning in the 2nd century helped inspire Russell Crowe’s film Gladiator.

But now cuts mean the tomb may be buried all over again, according to Rome’s extremely unhappy state superintendent for archaeology. “I fear we are going to take into serious consideration the idea of protecting these sensational finds by re-covering the entire site with earth,” said Mariarosaria Barbera.

Full Story

Roman coin hoard found in St Albans on display in British Museum


A ROMAN gold coin hoard discovered in St Albans, the second largest find of its kind in the UK, has gone on display at the British Museum.

The 159 late fourth century Roman gold coins, or ‘solidi’, were introduced to the Treasure and hoarding focused Citi Money Gallery on December 4.

Museum assistant Henry Flynn said: “The coins were minted during the final period of Roman control in Britain and there are practically no other comparable finds from this late period so it’s quite an unusual one.”

He added: “If you look closely at the coins in the case, you will see that many of them are still muddy.

“They are all legible and can be identified, but the traces of dirt nicely show that this is a very recent find that came from the ground.”

Richard Abdy, curator of Roman coins at the British Museum, said “This is a hugely exciting find.

“During the period of the Roman occupation of Britain, coins were usually buried for two reasons; as a religious sacrifice to the Gods, or as a secure store of wealth, with the aim of later recovery.

Full Story

Metal detector finds treasured family rings in field near Easthorpe


A RYEDALE woman has been reunited with two rings belonging to her late father after they were lost in fields four months ago.

Louise Boddy, from Amotherby, had been wearing the silver and gold rings on a chain following her father’s death in July.

While walking her dog on the gallops near Easthorpe, the chain had snapped without her noticing it and it was only when Louise returned home that she discovered the rings were missing.

“I thought I had lost them for good but then a friend said she had seen a poster for a metal detecting club and I decided to get in touch,” she said.

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Treasure finds up 12% last year!


Annual reports for the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) have shown rises of 12% and 8% respectively in finds recorded in England and Wales for the year 2011.

Figures published last week show that 97,509 finds and 970 treasure cases were recorded during that period.

Public awareness of the work carried out by the PAS is rising, with peak viewing figures of 4.5 million tuning in to the ITV1 series Britain’s Secret Treasures this year.

The programme, which was screened in July, highlighted 50 important finds recorded through the PAS.

According to the PAS annual report, the scope and impact of the scheme’s website is also increasing. The award-winning online database now features 820,000 finds from England and Wales and almost 400,000 images, and was accessed by nearly half a million people last year.

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Bronze Age discovery at North Cove by Gisleham treasure hunter creates a stir


A treasure hunter has said he made “a one in a million find” after unearthing an axe and gold rings in north Suffolk that maybe 3,000 years old and the first discovery of their kind for the region.

And as well as making his best find as a metal detectorist of 15 years, Steven Walker hopes the Bronze Age axe and rings inside its socket found near North Cove, near Beccles will take centre place in the British Museum.

Although the axe maybe the most eye-catching of the find, it is the gold rings that have historical experts excited as they may be the first discovery of its kind in Suffolk

The axe and gold rings were found buried 9in in land near North Cove on August 7 last year at the end of Steven Walker’s first day exploring the area with the land owners’ permission.

Experts at London’s British Museum, who hope to buy the find, said the hoard dates from between 1,000 and 800 BC.

Yesterday Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean declared the find as a treasure meaning it should be sold to the British Museum with Mr Walker and the landowners sharing the money.

It was not made public how much the find is worth.

Describing the axe and gold rings Dr Dean said: “It is a rather splendid find.”

Full Story

Green Waste debate hits house of commons!

On Wednesday 12th December Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester brought up the issue of the Green Waste issue that is blighting the British Countryside. 

In a well balanced argument he put forward his concerns, which metal detectorists have been voicing loudly over the last 12 months or more. This was brought to his attention by Mt Stuart Elton, known as stuE on many metal detecting forums.



A transcript is below:

Bob Russell (Colchester, Liberal Democrat)
The nation owes a debt of gratitude to its metal detector enthusiasts. As I will explain, individually and collectively they have identified a serious environmental disaster that must be averted.

At first glance, the concept of spreading garden waste across farmland seems to be an excellent idea—more “green” than burying it in landfill sites. The idea has been taken up with enthusiasm by councils across the country, encouraged by a combination of financial incentives and regulations to reduce, if not eliminate, landfill. Indeed, local authorities, spurred on by Government targets, compete against one another to see who can collect the most recycling materials. In principle, that is a worthy objective, but it has led to unintended consequences in the collection of so-called green waste from gardens. Once households had their own compost heaps. I still do. That is one basic we should go back to.

It is those serious, environmentally damaging consequences that I shall highlight this evening, in the hope that action will be taken with immediate effect by central and local government to prevent any further damage to the soil and water courses as a result of the contamination caused by discarded materials mixed in with what is often wrongly described as green waste and spread on food-producing fields.

I was first alerted to this worrying situation on 7 June this year, when a constituent, Mr Stuart Elton, attended my advice bureau. Metal detecting is his hobby. What he told me appalled me. Nowadays, when he and fellow metal detecting enthusiasts, with the permission of the land owner, go out looking for buried treasures from the past they are more likely to find a wide variety of metal, cut, crushed and mashed among the rotting green waste. That is not so much a needle in a haystack, but rather the contents of a scrapyard strewn across fields.

That led me to write to the president of the National Council for Metal Detecting, Mr John Wells. I was keen to learn more about the matter, both from a metal-detecting perspective and because of the obvious pollution and environmental consequences that my constituent had drawn to my attention. In due course, Mr Wells travelled from his home in Coventry to have a meeting with me at the House of Commons, which in turn led me to apply for tonight’s debate.

There was a time when the world of archaeology was variously sniffy or even hostile to those engaged in metal detecting, claiming that such activity was harmful to archaeological sites and discoveries. Quite often landowners were oblivious to what was going on. That is no longer the case. The National Council for Metal Detecting and its members have an excellent record of partnership working with all interested parties and have been responsible for some breathtaking finds that have added to the sum of our knowledge of the past. As I represent the first capital of Roman Britain, I am delighted to report that in Colchester we have an excellent metal detectors group, whose members epitomise best practice. It is currently full, with 100 members, and has

a waiting list. As recently as 30 November, its chairman, Mrs Sue Clarke, was reported in the Colchester

Daily Gazette

as saying:

“Colchester is a great place to be part of a metal-detecting group. There is so much history around here. There is never a boring rally.”

The term “rally” in this context refers to members, with the permission of a landowner, going as a group to search for artefacts.

To get back to the subject of my debate—the consequences of the contamination of green waste—I hope that the Minister will acknowledge that the serious environmental and pollution issues literally cannot be covered up any longer. Not everyone in the green waste industry is up to the job, whether we are talking about deliberate deceit or failure to comply with the strict regulations. The Minister’s briefing will, I trust, include accounts of people being prosecuted for spreading pollutants and other contaminated material along with so-called green waste.

One example that I have been told about involves a company called Vital Earth GB Ltd, which, in August this year, was fined £75,000, with costs of £13,535, at Derby magistrates court for offences under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The compost delivered by the company to a farmer was found to be contaminated with mixed waste, such as plastics, paper and metals, including kitchen knives, bottle tops and cigarette lighters—not at all environmentally friendly, and not friendly to those engaged in metal detecting, either. The compost quality protocol states that if quality compost is mixed with other waste materials, the resulting mix will be considered to be waste, and will therefore be subject to waste regulatory controls. Spreading it across England’s green and pleasant land is not what should happen to it. After the court hearing in Derby, an Environment Agency official said:

“This is a serious environmental crime. By depositing controlled waste Vital Earth have fallen significantly short of their environmental duties. We will not hesitate to prosecute in such cases.”

Perhaps the Minister could state how many prosecutions there have been under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 against those who have contaminated fields with compost that contains contaminated materials. This serious crime of pollution, which affects fields growing crops for human and animal consumption, and watercourses into which the pollution leaks, is a matter that needs to be addressed with the utmost urgency.

Mr Elton told me that a colleague contacted him to say that

“a farm near Colchester is covered in the stuff and is virtually undetectable. How long will it be before the whole of the Colchester area is affected?”

This afternoon he e-mailed me to wish me luck with the debate, and added:

“Although it was my metal detecting interests that brought me to this problem originally, having seen the dreadful state of some of the treated fields I believe everyone would want to stop this non-biodegradable rubbish turning our countryside into one big landfill site.”

I have been provided with other eye-witness accounts that include references to finding, in “green waste” on fields, medical waste, such as bandages. Another metal detector enthusiast observed that

“many local historical sites are becoming saturated in aluminium and making it extremely difficult to recover metallic artefacts

such as coins and brooches and that side of things whilst not as important as the food we eat or environment we live in...will affect our national heritage and academic learning from the past.”

Mr Alan Charlish, from the west midlands, reports that

“Despite the known problems of contaminated compost we in the UK are allowing the stuff to be spread across our fields without, it seems, any form of control. It is not only the obvious contamination that we as metal detectorists see all the time, such as old batteries, various metals, plastics, etc, it is also the unseen chemicals that are going in.”

He added:

“Left much longer the problems will become irreversible. The fact is that despite the claims that screening takes place there are so many contaminants that are entering the food chain via local authority recycling schemes.”

As if those problems were not enough, I have been advised that we must now add ash dieback to the unwelcome ingredients in green waste, because leaves from infected trees are apparently finding their way on to farmers’ fields. I understand that last week, a soil conference conducted by the all-party group on agro-ecology was held at the House of Commons. Various speakers discussed the need for good soil and protection of the environment.

In addition to drawing the Minister’s attention to that meeting, I wish to advise him of the magazine “Digging Deep” which is published by the National Council for Metal Detecting. In issue 9 Mr Wells sets out the concerns of his members about the problem that is the subject of my debate.

I sense that what I have told the House this evening is only a snapshot of a major national scandal. The UK is the fourth largest producer of cereal and oilseeds in Europe, with cereals grown on more than 70,000 farms. There are more than 42,000 beef and dairy farms in England and Wales.

In his article Mr Wells states:

“Green waste is biodegradable waste that can be composed of garden or park waste, such as grass or flower cuttings and hedge trimmings, as well as domestic and commercial food waste. The differentiation green identifies it as high in nitrogen, as opposed to brown waste which is primarily carbonaceous.

This definition identifies those elements that when composted singly or together form nitrogen rich material that when added to existing soil serves to enrich and aid development of plants and crops.”

Thus, in theory, the spreading of green waste on farmland is sensible. Sadly, the reality is different. As Mr Wells so rightly observes:

“The so-called green waste now being spread upon fields cannot be classed as green waste. A high percentage of the content is not compostable and needs to be controlled in exactly the same way as refuse going to landfill or incineration plants.”

In his article he explains how things go wrong in the collection of garden waste, its onward transfer to a contractor, and the manner in which it is then processed and finally spread on fields. Frequently, at each stage, there are failures, the consequences of which are catastrophic.

Elsewhere Mr Wells writes:

“Farmers, in the belief that they are doing the right thing for the community, are being conned, and have their land contaminated with plastic, aluminium, glass and all kinds of other products, containing chemicals and substances which not only destroys the appearance of the countryside but also puts at risk the health of wildlife, our waterways and our human beings.

Thousands of tonnes of this toxic rubbish, containing syringes, bottles, gloves, toys, glass—some of which will not decay for hundreds of years—are being tipped on the fields each year.”

I conclude with a rallying cry from the president of the National Council for Metal Detecting, which I am confident will be echoed by every environmental campaigner in the country:

“The dumping of green waste on farm land is not only ruining our hobby, it is also contaminating the land for decades to come. If this continues, metal detecting in this country will become a thing of the past. The dumping of this material is nothing short of legalised fly-tipping—and has to be stopped.”

I invite the Minister to promise the necessary action to do just this.

Link to this Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 12 December 2012, c419)
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8:17 pm

Richard Benyon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Newbury, Conservative)
I am grateful to my hon. Friend Sir Bob Russell for raising this worthwhile subject. He shows why there is a need to achieve a balance between encouraging the recycling of waste of all types and securing protection for people, animals and the natural environment.

No one should challenge the idea that it is right to encourage the treatment of green waste to produce valuable compost or soil conditioner. We strongly support measures that encourage the recycling of green waste. Over the past 10 years we have invested about £7 million in helping to develop new markets for quality compost. The composting sector in the UK has grown tenfold in the past five years as European and national legislation has encouraged local authorities to collect biodegradable garden and kitchen waste for processing into useful products, rather than consigning it to landfill. Let us not forget that organic waste sent to landfill produces methane, which has strong climate change effects. Composting is now a key component of many local authorities’ waste strategies, as my hon. Friend pointed out, as they work to improve the sustainable management of their waste.

The demand for composted products has continued to increase. The industry turned over an estimated £226 million in 2008-09, 36% above the figure for 2007-08. Agriculture is the most important single market for compost, accepting 1.8 million tonnes of a total production of 2.8 million tonnes in 2010. Green compost, when produced to the right quality standard and used in the right way, benefits agriculture, particularly on arable—cropped—soils. It replaces fertilisers or the use of peat and other material, thus conserving natural resources.

However, we must ensure that compost is produced to the right quality standard. That starts by ensuring that we keep green waste separate from other waste and avoid the introduction of contaminants, be they physical ones, such as pieces of metal, or less obvious ones, such as oil, rubber and residues found in street sweepings from the public highway. We need to ensure that the composting process is carried out in an environmentally sound manner and does not result in the production of polluting leachate that escapes into water courses or odours that cause a nuisance for those living nearby. The Environmental Agency has an important role in regulating composting and other waste recovery operations.

As has been graphically described, we do not want contaminated waste spread on land. We have in place quality protocols that are supported by publicly available standards—PAS 100 for compost and PAS 110 for the digestate for anaerobic digestion. Those specifications allow only source-segregated biodegradable inputs, including biodegradable garden and kitchen wastes collected from households. The PAS 100 specifications include stringent limits on physical contaminants, such as metal, plastic and glass, that can be present in the finished composts. Those limits were revised down from a total of 0.5% of dry weight to 0.25% in 2011. They are now the toughest in Europe. If those standards are met, the output is considered to be completely recycled and is no longer subject to waste management controls. Producing waste to those standards helps producers to guarantee compost that is safe to be marketed or spread on agricultural land as a quality product and helps to improve confidence in composted materials among end users.

Link to this Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 12 December 2012, c422)
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Bob Russell (Colchester, Liberal Democrat)
I must express disappointment at the Minister’s response so far. He is describing the theory, but the reality is what metal detecting enthusiasts from across England and their hobby group are telling me. What he describes is simply not happening out there in the field.

Link to this Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 12 December 2012, c423)
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Richard Benyon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Newbury, Conservative)
I think that the point I was coming to might answer my hon. Friend’s concerns. I will say now what I was going to say later: the Government are in absolutely no way complacent about this. We might have the most stringent standards in Europe, but we want to see that we are enforcing them. Having the most stringent standards is just a factor on a piece of paper; we are concerned with outcomes. I want to assure him that we will follow up any cases where we believe there has been a failure to comply with standards, and I will move on to explain how the principle that the polluter should pay will continue to be a key component of what we do.

Of course, not all compost needs to be produced to such a standard. Lower grade compost and compost-like outputs can be legitimately used on land, for example as mulch. In those cases, the compost remains a waste and its use on land is subject to environmental permitting or registered exemption controls in the same way as the composting process itself. That is monitored and closely enforced by the Environment Agency. We are aware of cases of sham recovery where, under the guise of composting, some operators have seemingly been more interested in disposing of unwanted materials than producing a worthwhile product. Where such cases are identified, the Environment Agency will investigate and consider enforcement action in accordance, importantly for my hon. Friend, with its enforcement and sanctions guidelines.

The controls on compost spread to land are in place, but we are keen to guard more generally against adverse impacts resulting from the spreading of a wider range of waste and non-waste materials on land. For this reason, officials in the Department and in the Environment Agency have set up a joint project to look at the impacts of other materials spread on land and whether we have the right controls in place. Nobody has total possession of all wisdom in this regard, and we are happy to take up any cases that we hear about from hon. Members,

local authorities, or members of the public and organisations such as the one that my hon. Friend mentioned. In doing so, we will need to be absolutely clear about the rationale for any further intervention and avoid unnecessary or disproportionate regulation. We believe that there are sanctions in place that can deal with every one of the cases that he raises. If that is not happening, we as Ministers want to know why, and we look to him and others to provide cases that we can take up with the Environment Agency, which we will do with vigour.

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Tessa Munt (Wells, Liberal Democrat)
Will the Minister consider the fact that it is possible to look at the outcome as opposed to the process and perhaps offer some facility for the Environment Agency to recognise the integrity of agricultural and food-producing land and to offer some protection for that land? We already protect water voles and all sorts of other things in a number of different ways. If we looked to the protection of the land, any offence on it could be worked against by the Environment Agency rather than trying to classify every assault on the land.

Link to this Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 12 December 2012, c424)
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Richard Benyon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Newbury, Conservative)
I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. What Government have to do is to create standards, and we do that in accordance, in the main, with European designations on such matters. However, that is a very prosaic and rather unambitious reason to do it. We also do it because we want to do so. We want to see a healthy environment. We want our food grown in a healthy way, and we want to be mindful of the health of the consumer and, of course, the impact on the environment. We are very concerned with outcomes, so we are genuinely worried when we hear such issues raised. As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, we are in no way complacent. We take our responsibilities very seriously. We are absolutely desirous of having good outcomes from all the measures that are in place. Many people say that far too many regulations are imposed on our food-producing industry and that we need to try to rationalise them, but we do not do that at the expense of the health of our environment or the consumer.

We have covered a lot of ground in the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester and the intervention by my hon. Friend Tessa Munt. I understand the attraction of metal detecting as a hobby, because a lot of people in my constituency do it. It is not only a good way of getting out into the countryside and doing a worthwhile activity; it is part of our agenda of more people having access to the countryside. It is also, as my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester points out, a fantastic way of collecting and identifying some extraordinary artefacts. We have all heard some of the wonderful stories that have happened in recent years, especially in and around the ancient Roman city of Camulodunum, now of course Colchester. I appreciate the frustration of the members of the National Council for Metal Detecting and note its recent petition on the subject. I particularly note the concern of those in my hon. Friend’s constituency, and I agree that we cannot accept the inappropriate spreading of what is alleged to be green waste, or the wilful damage to our environment.

The Government have a fundamental duty to continue to support and encourage the recycling and recovery of

waste so as to conserve natural resources. We also have a responsibility towards the established principle in modern society that the polluter pays. That is an important sanction against the kind of pollution that my hon. Friend has described, and I reaffirm that if he can bring us evidence of this kind of thing happening, perhaps from his contacts in the National Council for Metal Detecting, I can assure him that there will be no lack of will among Ministers or those in the Environment Agency to take up those cases.

I hope that I have managed to reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester and the House that there are good regulatory systems in place, and sanctions that should be working. There are also quality protocols which, if complied with, can add immensely to helping our environment. Where they are not being complied with, the perpetrators can be punished.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.

British Museum pays tribute to hordes of metal detectorists and their hoards of ancient relics, helmets, coins and weapons


When the battered metal helmet turned up in a field on the outskirts of Canterbury, the archaeologists had to peer at it carefully to be sure it wasn't a relic from a careless American GI in the second world war — albeit one with eccentric tastes, since it contained a mass of burned human bone.

The helmet, revealed for the first time as last year's haul of archaeological finds by metal detectors was unveiled at the British Museum, is in fact an artefact from a much earlier conflict.

It is an exceptionally rare Iron Age Celtic helmet from the time of the first invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar, who landed only a few miles away on the Kent coast. The bones haven't yet been analysed, but the presumption is that they are those of the helmet's owner, who must have been a warrior — and could in those complicated times have been a Gaul fighting either by Caesar's side, or with the defending Britons.

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The Crusaders' last stand: Pot of gold worth £300,000 found in fortress where it was buried by doomed force of Christian knights


A pot of gold from the Crusades worth up to $500,000 has been found buried in an ancient Roman fortress in Israel.

The coins were buried by Christian soldiers of the order of the Knights Hospitalier as the Crusaders faced an unstoppable attack by a huge Muslim army.

The knights were annihilated in April 1265.

The coins - worth a fortune even in 1265 when they were thought to have been buried - were deliberately hidden inside a broken jug to prevent them being discovered.

The fortress was destroyed in April 1265 by forces of Mamluks who overwhelmed the Crusaders - and the treasure only survived due to the quick thinking of one of the defenders.

'It was in a small juglet, and it was partly broken,' Oren Tal of the University of Tel Aviv told Fox News.
'The idea was to put something broken in the ground and fill it with sand, in order to hide the gold coins within. If by chance somebody were to find the juglet, he won’t excavate it, he won’t look inside it to find the gold coins. Once we started to sift it, the gold came out.'

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