‘Nighthawking’ crime-wave figures proved groundless

Oxford Archaeology Ltd (OA) is, as their website claims; “one of the largest and longest established independent archaeology and heritage practices in Europe” and was chosen to undertake the £66,000.00 investigation and published under the title:- The Nighthawking Survey, published in 2007/8. It makes sobering reading, not for detectorists, but  the gobby, single brain cell narcissists on the outer fringes of archaeological acuity. Two of the more vacuous, mouthy anti-detectorist clowns’ figures are exposed as fiction…

So what did OA uncover about the purported colossal ‘Nighthawking’ binge of the nation’s archaeological sites by thieves that some pig-ignorant, near illiterate propagandists lay at the door of the UK’s Tekkie community? That the aforementioned pea-brains are little more than ‘fake news’ merchants.

I quote from OA’s report: – The Nighthawking Survey:-

“Nighthawks are not to be confused with responsible metal detectorists. It is clear that many metal detectorists follow good practice guidelines, record and/or report their finds, abide by the Treasure Act (1996) and are valued contributors to archaeological understanding.

A total of 240 sites were reported affected by Nighthawking between 1995 and 2008 of which 88 were Scheduled Monuments. The number of reported attacks on Scheduled Monuments has decreased from 1.3% of the resource to 0.41% since the last survey in 1995. A total of 152 non-scheduled sites have also been raided (this category was not examined in 1995). Results suggest that from 3-6% of archaeological excavations are also raided, although the number of archaeological units that reported instances of Nighthawking was down from 37 out of 50 in 1995 to 15 out of 54 in 2007 (19 units responded, reporting 35 affected sites).”

The above figures are official.No question. They are not synthetic, unlike data dreamed up by archaeology’s Loony Toons wing. The OA’s data thoroughly discreditsthe so-called ‘heritage crime figures’ propagandists steer towards and heap on worthy and distinguished detectorists. To OA’s credit they reported the data ‘as found’.

For example:-

240 sites are cited as being allegedly“affected by Nighthawking” over a 13-year period (1995-08). Thus, 240 divided by 13 equates to an average of 18.461 incidents per year.

 Or put another way:

If the number of sites, allegedly“affected by Nighthawking” per year (18.461), is divided by the number of months in a year equates to 1.538 incidents per month.

 Or put another way:

If the number of sites per year, 18.461, allegedly “affected by Nighthawking” is divided by the number of weeks in a year, averages out to LESS than ONE incident a week: That figure being 0.355.

Yes…that’s 0.355 incidents a week. A crime tsunami? Hardly!

Nevertheless, those farmers and landowners who responded to OA’s questionnaire might well have confused the ‘evidence’ of so-called looting with that caused by nocturnal animal activity – and there’s no evidence in the survey either way apart from photographs of holes in the ground. This of course is the Survey’s major flaw rendering much of the Survey utterly misleading and therefore useless.

But let’s be generous; let’s go along with OA’s data and let’s further suppose for the moment the ‘looted’ sites really were excavated clandestinely; so what was stolen? Anything, or, nothing? No one knows. So the propagandists guess. Indeed, were these sites ever looted in the first place? NO ONE KNOWS, neither do the Loony Toons.

The Nighthawking Survey – despite its imperfections – clearly shows that clandestine metal detecting (in the UK at least) is not, nor has been, a threat to the heritage. So, when next some gobby, fact-free archaeological jihadist mouths-off, quote The Nighthawking Surveyin reply.

That said, anyone who steals from a Scheduled Site – even the weekend bobble-hatted flint fondlers – deserve the full force of the law.

Don’t forget to checkout the latest ‘Smart Arse Corner’ (link above)




4 thoughts on “‘Nighthawking’ crime-wave figures proved groundless

  1. You do know John that our detractors don’t deal with facts? It’s all guess work on their end and If you have any doubt just look at the whacked out Artifact Erosion Counter….


    • Hi Dick:
      The majority of those in the heritage industry appear to be making a decent fist of things. However, some at the outer limits of archaeological integrity – often heritage has-beens, and the less distinguished – seem to have few scruples when it comes to presenting dubious data to bolster spurious agendas.
      Peer review is currently the public’s main backstop as happened when six highly respected international scholars drove a coach and horses through Dr Sam Hardy’s Research Paper into metal detecting. His Paper got precisely what it deserved…the waste bin.
      Nevertheless, we need and deserve better that peer review. I for one am not sure that archaeology can, is willing, or even has the courage to ‘police’ itself.


    • Most in the heritage biz accept the status quo and relations are good. However, our pastime tends to attract those with oddball psyches, trolls, and assorted undistinguished archaeological dross, like flies to a turd. Mostly they are best ignored, being unimportant players – much to their distress – in the overall scheme of things. My friends in archaeology tell me these “pig-ignorant clowns” are an embarrassment and contribute nothing. So, when will they tire of these games? When they eventually lock ’em up in padded cells.


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