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Illegal Metal Detecting in the UK and Crown Dependencies

Bronze Age AxeWelcome to the Nighthawking Survey website.

What is nighthawking? Metal-Detecting is a pastime enjoyed by many people. Most Detectorists act responsibly and greatly help our understanding of the past. However, a number of people use detectors to steal objects from the ground, often with the intention of selling them for personal profit. They usually operate at night, and in great secrecy, and have become known as ‘Nighthawks’.

What is the problem?

Nighthawking can seriously damage archaeological sites, by removing vital evidence and damaging the undisturbed layers. Also, the good reputation of responsible metal detectorists is greatly harmed by Nighthawking.
To tackle the problem we need to know more about it.
English Heritage, along with many concerned bodies, have commissioned this survey as a first step.

What will this Survey tell us?
How widespread a problem is Nighthawking?
In what parts of the country is it happening?
How often it is happening?
Is the law currently dealing with Nighthawks?

With the information that you can provide us in this survey, we will be able to build a more accurate picture of the effect Nighthawking has on the historic environment which may then be used to inform Government and law enforcement strategies.