ARTEFACTS were confiscated from a treasure hunter who was caught illegally metal detecting at one of Colchester’s most important archaeological sites.

Essex Police were called to Gosbecks Archaeological Park, off Maldon Road, on Wednesday after members of the public spotted a metal detectorist in action.

Essex Police Colchester said on Facebook: “Thanks to the vigilance of the public, quick work by the rural engagement team and Essex Police Colchester, a person who was unlawfully metal detecting on a Scheduled Ancient Monument at Gosbecks was apprehended.

“These offences cause untold damage to our ancient sites not to mention the artefacts which are stolen purely for personal gain.

“Artefacts were recovered and detecting equipment has been seized. The individual has been reported for relevant offences.”

Read more >>> Illegal metal detector caught at Gosbecks Archaeological Park

Gosbecks is a Historic England Scheduled Ancient Monument as it is widely regarded as one of the most significant Iron Age and Roman archaeological sites in the country.

It is home to the remains of the largest of the five known Roman theatres in Britain, and a Romano-Celtic temple was also located within a large four-sided precinct.

During the Iron age it was home to King Cunobelin, who reigned over a large area of south-east Britain for 40 years.

A spokesperson for Colchester Council, which owns the land, said it takes illegal metal detecting seriously.

He added: “We are grateful for the vigilance of the public and the police in apprehending the detectorist before they had any further opportunity to disturb the fragile archaeology of this nationally-important site.

“Colchester Council owns the land on which Gosbecks Archaeological Park is situated and takes crimes seriously.

“Metal detecting on a scheduled monument, like Gosbecks, is a criminal offence under the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

“As the guardian of this and other sites of antiquity across the borough, the council prohibits detecting on its land, whether it is scheduled or not, except in exceptional circumstances.

“The actual and potential damage caused to important archaeological sites like this by illegal detecting, or night-hawking, is significant and we will continue to work with Essex Police and the public to ensure sites like Gosbecks remain free from unlawful detecting.

“Responsible detectorists will know that using a metal detector on any privately-owned land without permission is illegal, as is accessing privately owned land without permission, which can be prosecuted as trespass.

“Anyone who would like more information about responsible metal detecting should visit the Portable Antiquities Scheme website or contact the local Finds Liaison Officer.”