Farmer's fight against treasure hunters

A FARMER has told how he confronted a suspected metal detectorist on one of his night-time patrols to keep nighthawkers off his land.

Dave Gooderham

A FARMER has told how he confronted a suspected metal detectorist on one of his night-time patrols to keep nighthawkers off his land.

John Browning said his 56-acre field - a site of crucial archaeological importance - had been raided six times in the last three months.

He said he had no choice but to carry out regular nocturnal patrols as well as keep a diary of every incident that occurs.


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“I have lost count at the amount of people I have found on the site in recent years - I think it is about 50,” said Mr Browning.

Talking about the latest incident, on the land in Icklingham, near Mildenhall, on April 5, he said: “I found a man on my field and called the police.

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“My job is to see without being seen but I shouldn't have to patrol my land at night.

“But over the years, the average fine given for these offences has been the same as a parking ticket - it is disappointing.

“I carry out patrols on regular intervals when I think things could be vulnerable. Fortunately, the problems are almost over for now as the crops start to grow.”

According to Mr Browning's records, the farm land has been targeted six times since January 20.

Once a Roman settlement, the land is now a scheduled monument site of archaeological interest.

But it has brought about untold problems for Mr Browning over the last two decades following the discovery of valuable Roman artefacts including bronze heads and statuettes.

Last year, three men were fined for visiting the site equipped to steal - but were spotted by Mr Browning using a special nightscope.

Ricky McCabe, 34, David Miller, 38, and Alan Chapman, 37, all from Chadwell St Mary, each admitted the charge. All three were ordered to pay �250 in costs, McCabe and Miller fined �250 and Chapman fined �500 when they appeared before a judge at Ipswich Crown Court in March.

In the latest incident, a spokesman for Suffolk police confirmed that a 25-year-old Norfolk man had been charged with theft.

Andrew Chamberlain, of Front Way, King's Lynn, is due to appear before magistrates at Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday .

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