Thieves apparently searching for scrap metal raided a storeroom belonging to the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and made off with thousands of rare Anglo-Saxon and Iron Age artefacts. The Trust’s Director, Paul Bennett, likened the raid (somewhat over-dramatically I have to say) to Isis’s destruction of ancient archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq.
Bennett told the Daily Telegraph, “It is one of the biggest thefts of archaeological artefacts in the world,” adding, “It is almost like in Syria, Iraq and the archaeological sites there and Libya, where I also work.”
The Trust is livid with its landlord, Canterbury City Council, because it says, the council failed to inform it, or the police, about metal thefts on an adjacent derelict site.
Trust Archive Manager Andrew Richardson reckons the theft could have been prevented if the Trust had known about the nearby break-ins on the neighbouring site.
“We probably hold one of the biggest archaeological archives in the county in that store, it would have been relevant for the council to tell us that they were having a massive security problem on the adjacent site. If we’d known we would have taken measures well in advance of anything happening to up our security.” Charges refuted by the council.
A council spokesman is reported as saying, “We completely refute any suggestion that they were unaware of security concerns in the area. Now we have seen the items that have been taken, we are surprised they did not have much more robust security in place. We’re very supportive of the work they do to investigate and preserve Canterbury’s heritage, but on this occasion we have to strongly disagree with their criticism of us.”
The council however has said that it has had close contact with the Trust regarding several issues, including security
The Daily Telegraph also reported the Trust’s Director, Paul Bennett, as saying it was it was a ‘disaster’ for the country.
“It ranks with the theft of the Benghazi treasure in 2011 at the end of the revolution.”
The items are reported to have been stolen from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, in Kingsmead Road, overnight on 22 and 23 January and again on 23 and 24 January.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Kent Police on 01843 222289 quoting ZY/4200/18.
This very sad case raises more questions than answers.
If the theft is, as Trust Director, Paul Bennet claims, that of being one of the “biggest thefts of archaeological artefacts in the world,” and on a parallel with ISIS’s activities in Syria and Iraq; why then were such valuable artefacts – both historically and financially – not stored in on-site safes, or at least, in the safety of a museum?
Were the Canterbury Archaeological Trust’s premises alarmed? If not, why not? Certainly, all the hallmarks of a seemingly unfit-for-purpose storage facility coupled to what seems to be a casual approach to in-house security, are as far as one can determine on the published evidence, sadly present.
If then, this stolen collection of items is as “devastating” to the national heritage as Paul Bennett, claims – and he should know being the expert he is – then heads must role if the Trust is found wanting whereupon, it should never again, be allowed to curate historical artefacts.
Indeed, who will reimburse the nation for the loss of these allegedly high value items?
On Monday 5th February 2018, our old friend, PAUL BARFORD (aka ‘Warsaw Wally’ an undistinguished heritologist but prolific guess-timater), heralded that the Berlin Wall had stood for 10316 days, and on the 6th it would be 10316 days since its demise. Whether he wrote this with a sense of regret, or jubilation, is unclear but given the socialist tenor of his interminable anti-collecting ‘right-on’ evangelising, I rather suspect the former. The Wall was the Eastern Bloc’s infamous symbol of human rights suppression during the Cold War.
In 1986 – ‘Wally’, who describes himself as a “British archaeologist living and working in Warsaw…” went East to embrace the Polish communist regime; the same year that communist East German Border Guards manning the Wall – the Volkspolizei or Vopos – shot dead four of their own countrymen trying to reach democracy and freedom in the West.
Whereas, our pal ‘Wally’ was able to stroll casually and bullet-free into Socialism’s Polish Shangri-La to be glad-handed by the then ruling Communist regime, who, according to the Preface of his turgid book, not only bankrolled his literary ambitions but also awarded him with a post in the ancient monuments inspectorate.
All this happened simultaneously while the indigenous Poles were struggling to free themselves from the totalitarian and frequently brutal yoke of Communism, who had for years hankered after democracy and freedom. In the end, liberty and democracy won the day.
In 1990 – Lech Walesa was elected President of Poland. Market reforms, and large-scale privatisation initiatives established.
1991 – Saw the first democratic parliamentary elections since fall of Communism.
The total number of East Germans killed attempting to find to freedom in the West was, some researchers claim, well over 1,000. In some cases, captured escapees found themselves shipped to the Soviet Union for execution; but not before enduring the not-so-tender mercies of the KGB’s brutal interrogators in the notorious Lubyanka prison.
No one as far as I’m aware, was shot dead climbing over the Berlin Wall nor anywhere else along the length of the Iron Curtain’s razor-wire border to get into the Warsaw Bloc’s communist Utopia.
Odd that, innit?