In 2019, two men were jailed for stealing Viking treasure worth as much as £12 million.
The detectorists (people who enjoy searching for objects using a metal detector) found an astonishing hoard of 300 coins and jewellery in a field in Eye, Herefordshire, in 2015.
Under the law, George Powell and Layton Davies should have officially reported their haul, but they decided to sell it instead. Only a small portion of their discovery, which dates back more than 1,100 years, has been recovered.
There are different laws around the UK about what must be done when historical objects are found, but objects thought to be treasure must always be reported to local authorities. Powell and Davies decided to tell the National Museum of Wales about only two coins and three items of jewellery.
They sold the rest of the hoard. If the two men had been honest about their haul they would have received more than £500,000 each. Instead they will spend several years in prison.
This PDF resource includes this article, as well as accompanying activity ideas:
- Detectorists are often digging up valuable relics of the past that they have found with their metal detectors. Most of them are honest and report their findings, but not all. Is it time to ban metal detectoring unless it is being done as part of a recognised archaeological group? After all, such finds can reveal important insights into the lives of previous cultures, but only if they are dug up and recoreded in a careful way that doesn’t just focus on valuable objects. Or do you think detectorist should have the freedom to pursue their hobby independently? Most of them do behave appropriately so it is not fair to punish the many for the poor behaviour of the few. Anyway, they usually discover items that would never have been found by an official archaeological dig. What do you think?
- Write a set of instructions detailing what you should do if your metal detector has just signalled that it has found something that could be interesting or valuable under the ground. Remember to use sequencing conjunctions and imperative verbs
- Imagine you are a detectorist who has discovered a hoard of treasure. Write a diary entry describing your day, remembering to use the first person and powerful words to describe both your find and your feelings
- What are the top three biggest treasure hoards ever found in the UK? Say where and when each find was made and give an outline of what was discovered
Find the entire series of Topical Tuesday resources to download here.
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The Week Junior magazine looks at current affairs and helps children make sense of the world, provides context and clarity to complex issues, improves general knowledge and encourages discussion and debate.
To find out more about The Week Junior and to download its free resources, please go to schools.theweekjunior.co.uk.