Archaeologists ask robber to return items and receive two-week history rehabilitation

By Culture24 Reporter | 27 February 2014

Archaeologists say "learning stuff" could provide a "real way out" in a show of compassion for a robber which has sparked debate among supporters

A photo of a replica body in dark brown mud
This replica bog body was stolen from an archaeology vehicle in Liverpool© Big Heritage
In an astonishingly generous offer of forgiveness to a thief who swiped items including an iPad, pottery and a replica body from a van at a roadshow, one of the country’s leading archaeology companies has invited their light-fingered pilferer to embark on a two-week apprenticeship.

Liverpool-based experts Big Heritage, whose recent projects have included investigations at Stonehenge based on the unwitting discoveries of rabbits, reasoned that the robber, who prised kit from a vehicle at the Community Superstar Awards in Anfield, must have a “pretty crap” life.

“Return what you can to us, and come work for us for two weeks as an archaeologist,” wrote Dean Paton, the Managing Director, appealing to supporters to share the post on the group’s Facebook page.

“Understand the importance of the history of where you live, the skills we use to learn about the past and the way to get from the crap circumstances you are in to a better place.

“We'll cover your travel costs and you can keep the iPad if you want.

“We'll support you to find a training and education provider and you'll understand why a few crap bits of pottery from the bag you half-inched are worth more than 10 iPads.”

Assuring his target reader that the proposal was a “serious, genuine offer”, Paton added that a bog body left in the boot was only a replica, allowing its temporary guardian to “sleep a bit better tonight”.

The post received hundreds of replies within days, ranging from disdainful questioning (“what sort of message are you sending to these thieves?”) to supportive admiration (“I think this is one of the most amazing things I’ve read,” said one, praising the “compassionate” nature of the company).

Despite some pessimism surrounding the prospect of the historic items ever resurfacing, the life-changing potential of the project was addressed in several replies, with one describing the offer as a “golden opportunity” for rehabilitation.

Many were envious. “My best mate says I should lie and say it was me,” pondered a writer with a degree in archaeology. “I’d kill for two weeks interning with you.”

The furore comes at the end of a month the team is unlikely to forget. After being tipped off by Eddie Williamson, a staff member at Land’s End who noticed a network of burrows created by lively rabbits near Greeb Farm, archaeologists discovered the animals had unearthed flint scrapers and arrowheads dating back 5,000 years, leading to an Iron Age hill fort, a Bronze Age barrow cemetery and a Neolithic passage grave.

“It’s amazing how a family of rabbits have set in motion an incredible journey of discovery,” says Paton.

“Within the immediate vicinity of Land’s End, we were able to see a visible time-line of Britain, stretching deep into prehistory.

“At a site famous for having the first and last house and a first and last inn, we’ve been able to add the first and last hillfort and cemetery.

“While the landscape will have changed considerably over time, it’s likely that the stunning natural beauty of the site would have always been significant to humans.”

They are now working with planners to create an archaeobunnies trail, following in the footsteps of the furry diggers.

  • Big Heritage have launched an online competition inviting members of the public to see their favourite monument brought to life in 3D. Visit bigheritage.co.uk/competitiontime to take part.

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