Now Paul Barford has drawn attention to a recent newspaper report about John Browning, the farmer at Icklingham ("Thieves target historic site", East Anglian Daily Times, November 7, 2008). The paper reports:
Last night [John Browning] told how his fields had been targeted three times in the past five days by night-time thieves carrying metal detectors. It is understood they dig up the area looking for valuable Roman artefacts following the discovery there of a number of bronze heads and statuettes.There are several things to notice. First, that (some) metal detectorists target known (recognised) archaeological sites. Second, that deliberate destruction of an archaeological site (looting?) continues apace. Third, such activity is intense.
They are the latest in a string of incidents involving treasure hunters. At least 50 people have been caught and penalised over the years and Mr Browning believes more than 100 incidents have gone unpunished.
And if this is true for Icklingham, what about other scheduled archaeological sites in England and Wales?