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Finders isn't keepers in Norfolk

metal detect

Published by Grace Mcgachy at 5:42am 3rd October 2018.

You might see yourself as Norfolk's answer to Indiana Jones.

But you could be breaking the law.

Police are warning us against nighthawking.



It can technically be theft

The term "nighthawking" is a term used to describe illegal metal detecting on farmland, archaeological sites and other areas of archaeological interest.

This is usually in order to steal coins and other artefacts for their historical and financial value.

Nighthawkers will enter land with metal detectors without permission from the farmer or landowner.

metal detect


Causing a lot of damage

Meaning all finds removed by them while trespassing may amount to theft.

Nighthawkers are most active in early autumn or spring when fields have been ploughed.

This is as the land is disturbed and artefacts are often brought closer to the surface (the land is also easier to dig).

Damage is often caused by this activity either by holes being dug or by the person walking or driving across fields to get to where they want to.



Nighthawkers will often travel vast distances to get to sites, on their own or in groups, and they often have very expensive equipment and even night vision goggles with them.

Historical treasures are often lost and unlike most metal detectorists who proudly share their finds, nighthawkers hide their finds away as they know they have been obtained illegally.

Norfolk has a large number of archaeological sites and is, therefore, a prime target.

dig 2


Please report any nighthawking incidents email or call 101.

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