Men of a certain age and persuasion have been causing trouble again, with the usually sedate world of the metal detector user triggering a small crime wave in Northumberland.
The ancient site of Corbridge, a Roman settlement near Hadrian's Wall, has seen late-night metal detectorist action of a criminal sort, with holes being found in the morning from illegal detecting that's being conducted overnight. This infers that late-night detection enthusiasts have been plundering Roman finds from the site, which is protected under Scheduled Monument rules.
Historic England's Mike Collins said: "We're assuming they've retrieved considerable amounts of Roman artefacts, such as coins or any metallic domestic items, but because they're acting under the cover of darkness it's difficult to quantify. It's very clear the activity is happening overnight when the detectorists can't be seen from the surrounding countryside."
Collins says such sneaky digging has been going on for years, but activity has reached a new high recently, probably because all the detectorists' kids want the new £1,000 telephone for Christmas. [BBC]