Friday, 23 November 2007

Nighthawking and bombs.

It seems that there is a problem of nighthawking; this is when metal detectorists illegally remove and keep antiquities that they have found on archaeological sites, during the night, and sell them on to collectors. There are others who legitimately use metal detectors and have added to the knowledge of the past.

I have always wanted to have a go at metal detecting, but like a lot of other things, (white water rafting and riding a horse to name but two) I have never got round to it. Perhaps this is just as well as I would probably unearth an unexploded WW2 bomb of some kind.

This thought may be due to an incident when I was a small child. My mother and I were staying with my grandparents in Folkestone one Christmas. After breakfast my mother and I walked down to the sandy beach, which looked very inviting, and was covered with snow that had fallen the night before.

My mother carefully lifted the barbed wire that was blocking the way to the beach (it was war time) and we squeezed under it and ran across the beach, stamping and making footprint patterns in the unmarked snow, and laughing. We were stopped in our tracks literally when a man with a megaphone began shouting at us to get off the beach, or words to that effect, as the beach was mined.

My mother carefully explained to me to walk in the footsteps we had already made in the snow, and to leave the beach. At the time I did not know what mines were, but the man almost incoherent with rage impressed me a lot. I do not think this adventure was mentioned to my grandparents when we got home.

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