Mwnt: Heritage Crime in Wales

Mwnt © David Gill

During December the small church at Mwnt in Ceredigion was vandalised not just once but twice (“Mwnt church vandalism prompts £20k fundraising appeal“, BBC News 3 January 2022). Windows and the entrance to the churchyard were damaged. These vulnerable structures need public protection.

A JustGiving page has been set up to help fund the restoration.

Looting at Corbridge

Corbridge © David Gill

Historic England has noted that metal-detectorists have been active on part of the scheduled Roman site at Corbridge in Northumberland.

Do we need to change the language used to describe such activity? Do archaeologists need to start talking about the intellectual implications of such illegal activity? What information is being lost from the finite archaeological record?

Further details can be found on Looting Matters.

UK UNESCO World Heritage site damaged

Brunton Turret, Hadrian’s Wall © David Gill

Part of Hadrian’s Wall at Brunton Turret has been damaged by metal-detectorists “‘Nighthawk’ metal detectorists damage Hadrian’s Wall“, BBC News 20 June 2018). Some 50 holes have been noted around this well-preserved section of the Roman frontier. This raises questions about how internationally significant heritage assets can be protected for future generations. Equally important is the question, how can the archaeological and heritage communities make it clear that such activity cannot be accepted?

Rendlesham Conference

Rendlesham Conference © David Gill

Some 450 delegates attended a conference at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds to hear about the results of the survey and excavations (2008-14) at the vicus regius of Rendlesham in Suffolk. One of the themes explored was the relationship between this apparent elite site on the Deben with the ship-burial site at Sutton Hoo. A further discussion was on the place of the former Saxon Shore fort at Walton Castle (near Felixstowe).

Papers were:

  • Sir Michael Bunbury, The landowner’s perspective
  • Faye Minter, How Rendlesham has been investigated
  • Jude Plouviez, Results: the Roman period
  • Christopher Scull, Results: the Anglo-Saxon period
  • Andrew Woods, Interpreting the early medieval coins
  • Charlotte Scull, Beasts and feasts: the animal resources
  • Kelly Kilpatrick, The place-names of a royal Anglo-Saxon landscape: a toponymic survey of Rendlesham and the Deben valley
  • Tom Williamson, Rendlesham in context: the changing geographies of early medieval England
  • Andrew Rogerson, Not always a backwater, the northern half of the East Anglian Kingdom in the 5th-9th centuries
  • Christopher Scull, Suffolk, East Anglia and the North Sea: the importance of Rendelsham in the 5th to 8th centuries AD

Martin Carver chaired the final session and emphasised the international significance of the discoveries. Christopher Scull outlined plans for publication (including an article in Antiquity) and future grant applications.

The conference was organised by Suffolk County Council with support from the Sutton Hoo Society, Council for British Archaeology East, and University of Suffolk.

The conference was sponsored by Suffolk Archaeology, Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, Suffolk County Council, British Sugar and the National Trust.

Lady Chapel at Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds Abbey © David Gill

Ministry signs helped to explain the layout of sties in state guardianship. Sadly the sign from the Lady Chapel on the east side of the north transept of the Abbey at Bury St Edmunds has been damaged. I presume it read: ‘Ch[apel]’. Does anybody have a picture of the original sign? It is a good reminder why we need to record these signs before they disappear or are removed.

The chapel was constructed in the late 13th century over the earlier chapel to St Mary. It is adjacent to the chapel of the St Martin, and alongside the crypt.

Images from Greek Police Raid Used to Identify Amphora due to be Auctioned in London

Image of Athenian amphora attributed to the Bucci painter seized in Greek police raid (2007). Source: Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

Dr Christos Tsirogannis has identified an Attic amphora due to be auctioned in London next week as the one shown in two images seized during a Greek police raid in 2007. The auction house concerned needs to demonstrate the full collecting history.

More details are available on Looting Matters.

Woodhenge Heritage Signs Stolen

Ministry of Works plaques stolen from Woodhenge. Source: Historic England

HF has a keen interest in heritage signs especially those linked to the Ministry of Works. It has been reported that the Ministry of Works signs from Woodhenge, an early example of interpretative plaques, have been stolen.

Further details are available from Looting Matters.

Lead Thefts in Suffolk

Lavenham Church, Suffolk © David Gill
Lavenham Church, Suffolk © David Gill

There have been a number of lead thefts across East Anglia and in particular from historic churches in Suffolk. St Peter and St Paul at Lavenham is one of the latest to have been stripped: there have been 12 instances in the county since July this year. The damage to Lavenham’s church has been put in the region of £150,000 (see news report). Earlier this month the church at Groton was the subject of a theft (see news report). Reports are highlighting the difference between the value of the lead and the cost of the repairs.

Source: Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
Source: Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich

The Church of England Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich has issued new guidance to churches (see here).

Bishop Martin said: “We live in a low crime county but our community’s heritage has recently been prone to major thefts. A number of churches have had their lead roofs stolen and therefore the launch of these guidance notes is very timely. Working in partnership with the Church, the police forces in Suffolk and Norfolk have produced an easy to follow leaflet for Parochial Church Councils and I hope that they will be read and acted upon in order to keep our places of worship open and available to all.”

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore added: “Our beautiful buildings need to be cherished and we must do whatever we can to combat heritage crime. The dedicated rural crime team is doing an excellent job. This team, supported by Suffolk’s two dedicated rural Special Constabulary units, has a very good understanding of the negative impact heritage crime has in rural areas. We all have a role to play to protect our county’s beautiful churches but so often they are in remote areas so I would urge everyone to keep their eyes peeled and report any suspicious activity.”

The Suffolk Constabulary has also issued a statement.

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