July 29 2014 Latest news:
By Matthew Gooding
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
A man is due to appear in court to answer charges that he stole a coin worth £15,000 that he discovered through nighthawking.
The 51-year-old from Grays, Essex, will appear at Basildon Magistrates Court on Thursday to face two charges of theft.
One of these relates to a Carolingian Gold Solidus coin of Louis the Pious, dating back to medieval times, which was stolen from Meldreth in October 2009.
Nighthawking is illegal metal-detecting on archaeological sites - or other areas of archaeological interest - and private land in order to recover treasure or other items of value. It is performed where permission to survey and dig has been refused or never sought.
Essex Police have been leading investigations into this illegal practice, and have been gathering intelligence on various national targets. In April 2013, officers were contacted by the British Museum who reported a suspected case of someone failing to declare treasure under the Treasure Act.
The following month, officers executed a search warrant at a house in Grays under and seized two coins.
The second charge relates to a gold Roman coin from the period of the Emperor Valentinian, valued at £200, that was stolen in Castle Acre in Norfolk in August 2009.
Following several months of liaison with English Heritage, the man was interviewed by officers in June 2013 and he has now been summonsed to appear in court.
Louis the Pious was King of Aquitaine, an area of South-Western France, and went on to be the Holy Roman Emporer until his death in 840.