Bronze Age axes sold on ebay
8:50am Monday 16th February 2009
BRONZE Age axes found in Buckinghamshire using illegal metal detection were sold on internet auction site ebay, English Heritage warned today.
It said the practice, known as “nighthawking” was putting the country’s heritage at risk.
The axes were sold to a collector in the Netherlands who, realising its importance, reported it to the authorities.
The axes are now in the Buckinghamshire County Museum.
Yet English Heritage said although the axes were recovered, vital information about where they were found was lost forever.
A statement said: “The police initiated an investigation but were unable to trace the original finders. As a result, the exact location of the find spot could not be identified.
“We are left with an important collection of old Bronze objects but with no possibility of finding out whether they are an isolated deposit or associated with a settlement.
“All details of how they were buried were lost forever, along with it information on the people who buried them.”
Yet the county was not among those with the highest incidences of nighthawking, English Heritage said.
The body warned prosecutions are “at an all time low and penalties are woefully insufficient”.
It said: “Illegal metal detecting is the search and removal of antiquities from the ground using metal detectors without the permission of the landowners or on prohibited land such as scheduled monuments.
“It is a form of theft and can be prosecuted under the Theft Act.”