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Cadbury's, Treasure and Damage to the Archaeological Record

LM has consistently commented on the damage to the archaeological record sustained by unscientific digging. In the UK, and specifically in England and Wales, LM has discussed the damage sustained by (some) metal-detecting. I was asked by the editors of the Papers of the Institute of Archaeology to write a forum piece on the issue. Subsequent published research has considered the cases of the so-called Crosby Garrett helmet, and the Lenborough Hoard. I have been present at a meeting of the Cultural Property APPG and heard members from a major national museum refuting comments about the looting of archaeological sites in East Anglia. Contemporary concerns about looting have been raised in a review article for Antiquity. 

In this permissive culture there is little surprise that Cadbury's thought that it was acceptable to encourage individuals to go and dig up an archaeological site in order to find 'treasure'. The reaction from the archaeological community was resounding. People who would normally fail to hear the academic arguments were free to comment on social media.

The BBC ran a story, "Cadbury treasure hunt ad labelled 'stupid' by archaeologists" (17 March 2019), and now the Guardian has noted that the Cadbury's campaign has been suspended ("Cadbury pulls ad campaign that ‘advocates looting’", 18 March 2019). Minister Michael Ellis MP has even commented.

Historic England issued a statement to the Guardian:
Unfortunately Cadbury’s PR campaign encouraging digging for treasure potentially puts people at odds with the law. There are strict rules that protect England’s archaeological heritage, including laws governing metal detection.
Is it time for the DCMS to strengthen the protection of England's archaeological record?


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