Men convicted of nighthawking in Durobrivae, near Water Newton, Cambridgeshire

Durobrivae: Roman Town Between Fen and Uplands

Durobrivae: Roman Town Between Fen and Uplands - Credit: Archant

Two men have been convicted of unlawful metal detecting at Durobrivae Roman town, a protected Roman site in Cambridgeshire.

Keith Stacey and Samuel Wildman were sentenced to a 12 month community order, 200 hours unpaid work and will have to pay £300 costs after being found guilty at Peterborough Magistrates Court (13 July 2016) of offences including attempted theft, going equipped to steal and using a metal detector on a protected site without a licence from Historic England.

In May 2015, Stacey and Wildman were found in possession of metal detecting equipment on private farmland within the Romano-British town of Durobrivae, near Water Newton.

The area is protected as a ‘scheduled monument’.

The detectorists’ activity was witnessed by a farm worker who was able to take photographic evidence and reported the incident to Cambridgeshire Police and Historic England.

This case forms part of ‘Operation Chronos’ - the national campaign to tackle ‘nighthawking.’

John Neale, assistant planning director of Historic England in the east of England, said: “This case sends a clear message that illegal metal detecting on protected heritage sites is not acceptable. The local community is vigilant and encourage a determined response.”

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Mark Harrison, national policing and crime advisor of Historic England, said: “This conviction is the first for unlawful metal detecting at Durobrivae Roman town and sets a precedent in the fight against heritage crime.

“Historic England will continue to work with the police, Crown Prosecution Service and the metal detecting community to identify the small criminal minority who are intent on causing loss and damage to our shared cultural heritage and to bring them to justice.”

The Romano-British town of Durobrivae and its suburbs have in the past been the target for illegal metal detecting or ‘nighthawking’ and perimeter fencing has recently been installed to secure vulnerable points along the A1 in an attempt to prevent this form of criminal behaviour.

Historic England continues to work closely with landowners, Natural England, Cambridgeshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service to help protect the site from heritage crime.

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