Historic England thefts: Two more held over stolen artefacts

Artefacts raids Image copyright Cheshire Police
Image caption Police carried out raids on seven properties in Droylsden and Audenshaw, Greater Manchester on Tuesday

Two more men have been arrested after artefacts were stolen from protected heritage sites in northern England.

The suspects were detained as part of a probe into unlawful metal detecting at Beeston Castle in Cheshire and Roche Abbey in South Yorkshire, bringing the total number of arrests to six.

Items dating back up to 4,000 years were seized as part of the probe.

They included Bronze Age axe heads as well as Roman and medieval coins and other objects, a police spokesman said.

The confiscated artefacts will now be analysed by staff from the Portable Antiquities Scheme and archaeologists from Historic England.

Jeremy Ashbee, English Heritage's head properties curator, said unlawful metal detecting was a serious crime which could damage "precious" archaeological sites and lead to "the irretrievable loss of invaluable information".

He added: "Unlawful metal detecting robs us of our past and it affects us all."

All six suspects, aged 28 to 32, have been bailed pending further inquiries.

The arrests were made following raids on seven properties in Droylsden and Audenshaw, Greater Manchester on Tuesday.

It follows a similar operation in January, which saw two men held over "nighthawking" at Beeston Castle.

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