More success for Treasure and the Portable Antiquities Scheme
The Treasure Annual Report, announced today, records another dramatic increase on the amount of finds reported in the last year, with 749 objects reported in 2007 (up from 665 in 2006). The current report includes all finds which have passed through the Treasure Process in 2005 and 2006, 1,257 finds in total. Key finds include one of the best Iron Age torcs to be found in the last 50 years. The ‘Newark Torc’ provides an excellent example of the value of the Treasure Act, in that its discovery has forced historians and archaeologists to re-think the importance of the Trent Valley area 2,000 years ago. The proper recording of this find, and indeed all the finds listed in the report, have contributed inestimably to our understanding of our past.
Culture Minister Barbara Follett said:
“The treasures of the past that are found in the fields, farms and fells across the UK are vital pieces in the puzzle that help us understand the origins and development of our culture and identity. Since the implementation of the Treasure Act in 1996 – which ruled that finders and landowners will be eligible for rewards for finds – museums have reported a ten-fold increase in the treasure items offered to them. I am delighted that through the work of all those involved in the scheme more archaeological material is now available for all to see at museums, helping us to learn about the lives and behaviours of people of the past.”
Museums across England and Wales have benefited from the increase in Treasure finds in terms of their collections. Thanks to funding from sources such as the Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund, 282 of the finds from last year have been acquired by museums across the country. 2006 has also seen an increase in donations of Treasure finds to museums, following an initiative by the Government to encourage
finders to gift their discoveries to local museums. 44 finders generously donated finds to museums in 2006, up from 25 the previous year.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) plays an increasingly important role in the operation of the Treasure Act. Since 2003, when the PAS was extended to the whole of England and Wales, there has been an average increase of 193.68% in the reporting of Treasure. The highest increases have been in the Isle of Wight (1507%), Sussex (964%) and the North East (440%). The Scheme is managed by the British Museum on behalf
of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.
The PAS was established to record all finds found by the public; not just Treasure. In 2007 a further 77, 606 archaeological objects were recorded on the PAS database (www.finds.org.uk), with the overwhelming majority of finds discovered by people metal-detecting. The database currently lists more than 360,000 objects and is widely used by scholars, archaeologists and the public alike. The British Museum is delighted
that funding has been secured for the continuation of this excellent scheme.
For further information or images please contact Hannah Boulton on 020 7323 8522 or
FINDS AT THE LAUNCH
A wide range of significant objects have passed through the Treasure process in 2005 and 2006, below are some key examples:
- A stunning Iron Age Torc. Date, c. 200AD – 50 BC. Made of a combination of
gold and silver, this torc was found by Mr Richardson in 2005 near Newark in
Nottinghamshire. Mr Richardson was searching for a crashed WW2 aircraft when he
discovered this important find. Although torcs have been found in the UK, most
particularly in Norfolk, this is the first time one of these objects has been found in this
part of the country. It has therefore forced archaeologists to re-think the importance of
the region 2,000 years ago and to question how and why this high-status object
travelled from East Anglia to Nottinghamshire. Valued at £350,000, the torc has been
acquired by Newark Heritage Service and is the most expensive single Treasure find in
recent history. 2005 T52 (Cat 82)
- A beautiful Anglo-Saxon mount. Date, 7th century AD. Made of gold and garnet,
this small object was found by Mr Minshall whilst metal-detecting in Essex in 2006. Its
exact function is unknown but it may have been part of a necklace pendant. The object
has been acquired by Chelmsford Museum for £3,000. 2006 T440 (Cat.252)
- An Anglo-Saxon roundel. Date, 10th – 11th century AD. This gold and enamel
roundel is probably from Hampshire. It was found by Mr K Hollyfield while metaldetecting
between 1980 and the early 1990s, and reported Treasure by his son. Though
it was not declared Treasure – because it was found before the commencement of the
Treasure Act 1996 – the object was such a rarity that it has been purchased by the
British Museum. This object shows the Hand of God descending in a gesture of blessing
or divine acknowledgement. The setting almost certainly derived from a larger object
of some kind and in terms of design shows similarities to the famous ‘Alfred Jewel’.
2006 T242 (Cat.286)
- A Medieval silver seal matrix. Date, 13th century AD. This matrix features a
Roman red jasper intaglio and was discovered in Swanley, Kent in 2005 by Mr Mann.
Whilst it is not unusual for a Medieval seal matrix to contain a Roman intaglio, this is a
unique find as the intaglio shows the only known surviving gem portrait of Roman
Emperor Antoninus Pius (r.138-81). Antoninus Pius was the successor to Hadrian. It
has been acquired by the British Museum for £2,750 2005 T75 (Cat.536)
- Large Roman Coin Hoard. The hoard found in Snodland, Kent consists of more
than 3,600 coins and associated pottery deposited in about 347 AD. Found by a digger
driver during a geo-technical survey prior to development, it was excavated by the Kent
Finds Liaison Officer. The hoard is currently under investigation at the British Museum
2006 T467 (Cat.1118)
Notes to Editors:
- All finders of gold and silver objects, and groups of coins from the same finds, over 300
years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996.
Prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1 January 2003 also qualify as Treasure.
Treasure finds must be reported by law to the local coroner, which is normally done
through the finders local PAS Finds Liaison Officer. The Treasure Process is
administered by the British Museum. More information is available on
www.culture.gov.uk or www.finds.org.uk
- The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is a voluntary scheme managed by the British
Museum on behalf of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to record
archaeological objects (not necessarily ‘Treasure’) found by members of the public in
England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of
these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going
about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding
our past. More information can be found on www.finds.org.uk
- The MLA is government’s agency for museums, libraries and archives. Leading
strategically, we promote best practice to inspire innovative, integrated and sustainable
services for all
- The British Museum and MLA have also developed an agreement with eBay to monitor
the site for unreported Treasure, and the Department of Portable Antiquities & Treasure
(British Museum) works closely with the Metropolitan Police’s Art & Antiquities Unit in
this aspect of its work. In 2007 intelligence on 144 cases was passed to the police.