News from the Scheme

Finds Day

Published: Wednesday 26th November 2003 Author:

Frank Basford, the Isle of Wight, Finds Liaison Officer is holding a finds day in conjunction with the Oglander Roman Trust.
The Trust administers Brading Roman Villa, which is currently undergoing a major refurbishment with a new cover building amongst one of their many projects.

The event will be held on Saturday 6 December 2003 at the Church Hall adjacent to Brading Parish Church between 1300 and 1600.

Frank will be glad to view your finds and record them on the Portable Antiquities Scheme's Database.

Please click on the link below for details on the Villa project.

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Treasure: Finding our past

Published: Tuesday 25th November 2003 Author:

Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
Sponsored by Anglo American and Tarmac
21 November 2003 - 14 March 2004
Room 35
Admission charge

The first major national exhibition of British archaeology in over 20 years, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past will show how much chance archaeological discoveries have revolutionised our understanding of our past. The exhibition is a result of a unique collaboration between The British Museum and four other major UK museums in Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle and Norwich. The exhibition will travel to each venue after London to allow people across England and Wales to view some of the most spectacular finds of British history.

The exhibition will feature some of the country's most important British treasures such as the magnificent Mildenhall tableware, which will be shown in its entirety and will tour the country for the first time and the iconic Lewis Chessmen which featured in the first Harry Potter movie. But the key aim of the exhibition is to celebrate the enormous contribution that the public has made in uncovering history as well as the success of the Treasure Act and the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The vast majority of finds in the exhibition have been uncovered by metal detectorists who now account for 90% of all treasure discoveries. Recent finds such as the Iron Age gold jewellery found in Winchester and the stunning Bronze Age gold cup from Ringlemere, Kent have revealed important new information about Britain's prehistory. Responsible metal detecting and reporting of finds has greatly enhanced our historical knowledge. It has enabled archaeologists to examine the context of finds as well as the finds themselves helping us to understand how they were used, their ritual or social significance and why they came to be at a particular site.

The exhibition also aims to challenge people's perceptions of what constitutes 'treasure'. Although many of the objects in the exhibition are exquisite examples of gold or silverwork or feature precious gems, the seemingly lowliest object can be hugely significant to understanding our history. Medieval pewter 'toys' found on the banks of the Thames by the 'Society of Thames Mudlarks', an amateur metal detecting group, have little financial value but are important social documents and tell us a huge amount about everyday lives in the Middle Ages. Tudor dress fasteners, which tend to be found as casual losses, rather than on specific sites, give us an insight into how people at the time wore their clothes and what they considered to be fashionable accessories.

On completion at The British Museum, the exhibition will travel to the National Museum's and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff (May-September 2004), The Manchester Museum (October 2004-January 2005), Hancock Museum, Newcastle ( March-June 2005 ) and Norwich Castle Museum (July 2005-November 2005).

For further information or images please contact Hannah Boulton on 020 7323 8522 or email

The book, Treasure: Finding our Past by Richard Hobbs accompanies the exhibition. It explores the key finds of British history, all with a unique story to tell and nearly all made by members of the public. Published by The British Museum Press on 1st September at £9.99. For further details please contact Penelope Vogler on Tel: 020 7079 0942 or email

Notes to Editors

The Treasure Act was introduced in 1997, as a revision to the medieval law of Treasure Trove. It established far clearer definitions of what constitutes treasure, and its scope extends beyond gold and silver to associated archaeological material and some categories of base metal objects. Since it was introduced, the number of treasure cases each year has risen nine-fold, from around 25 a year to 221 in 2000. For more information, please visit
The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary scheme to record archaeological objects found by the public and to broaden awareness of these finds for understanding our past. Since 1997 the Scheme's Finds Liaison Officers have examined over 100,000 objects, many of which might have otherwise gone unrecorded. Data is passed on to Sites and Monuments Records (SMRs) and is also published on the Scheme's website -
" The exhibition only covers material found in England and Wales, with the exception of the Lewis Chessmen. Scottish finds are excluded because different laws apply regarding Treasure finds; the Treasure Act and the Portable Antiquities Scheme apply only to England and Wales
" A number of the hoards/objects on display will feature in a BBC 2 series 'Hidden Treasures' to be broadcast this autumn. Tracing the route objects take to become part of our national heritage in the British Museum, viewers will learn the history of these amazing artefacts and how their market value is assessed.

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Collectors fair

Published: Friday 14th November 2003 Author:

Frank Basford will be representing the Portable Antiquities Scheme at a Collectors Fair at the Isle of Wight Council's Dinosaur Isle Museum. This will be held over the weekend of November 22nd and 23rd 2003; between 10:00 am and 16:00 pm.

Also present, will be the the Island's metal detecting club, Vectis Searchers and the Isle of Wight Young Archaeologists Club. Both of these clubs will be producing displays about their work.


Dinosaur Isle,
Culver Parade,
Isle of Wight
PO36 8QA

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Treasure, Metal detecting, Archaeology and Conservation - the life of detected finds after recovery

Published: Friday 14th November 2003 Author:

Do you want to know more about how to treat your finds'
Metal detectorists want conservation advice from conservators. They want to know how to look after their finds. How should conservators achieve this'
Is there enough information available to detectorists'
We need you to contribute to this debate.
The meeting will review the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and examine how well
archaeologists, conservators and detectorists are working together to gather information and safeguard finds for the future.

The day's proceedings will follow this format:

18 December 2003,       British Museum Lecture Theatre
9.30     Registration
9.55 Health and Safety Announcements  Claire Heywood,
10.00    Welcome Kirsten Suenson-Taylor, UKICAS & Neil McGregor, Director British Museum

Session 1. 
The Portable Antiquities Scheme: how is it working, current and future needs.
Chair: Roger Bland, PAS
10.10 Sally Worrell
10.30 David Barwell  Detectorist Chairman The National Council for Metal Detecting.  'Conversation, Communication, Conservation'
10.50 Hayley Bullock, Conservator, British Museum
11.10 Discussion
11.30 Coffee

Session 2 
Resources, successes, problems
Chair: Archaeologist tbc
12.00 Archaeologist, tbc.. 
12.20 Steve Bolger, Detectorist, 
12.40 Numismatist,  Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge tbc.
13.00 Discussion
13.20 Lunch/ Displays from metal detectors and conservators

Session 3 
Conservation and metal detectorists, case studies and experiences. 
Chair: Kathy Tubb
14.30 Susan La Niece, Archaeological Scientist, British Museum: What can science tell you about treasure
14.55 Jenny Jones, Conservator, English Heritage.
Portable Antiquities and conservation
15.15 Rebecca Lang, Conservator, Museum of London.
Mud, glorious mud.
15.35 Discussion
15.55 Coffee

Chair: Dean Sully
16.25 Neil Allen Chairman Romney Marshland MDC.
16.45 Julie Jones, Conservator, York Archaeological Trust
From Swords to Ploughshares: YAT conservators meet the detectorists.
17.05 Discussion
17.30 Close

The event will then be followed by a wine reception and a tour of the British Museum's latest exhibition.
Buried Treasure: Finding our Past  and talk from Richard Hobbs, Curator British Museum

For more details, or to book contact:
Kirsten Suenson-Taylor,
Telephone 01295 720350 or
Claire Heywood
Cheques payable to UKICAS should be sent to:
Kirsten Suenson-Taylor
Mill House
South Newington
Banbury OXON
OX15 4JE


Claire Heywood
Department of Conservation
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WCIB 3DG

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Hidden Treasure Exhibition - Museum of Canterbury

Published: Wednesday 12th November 2003 Author:

From 22nd November 2003 until 20th March 2004 the Museum of Canterbury will be hosting an exhibition focusing on archaeological finds made by members of the public in the Canterbury area.  The exhibition will aim to show the range and wealth of material uncovered by chance finders and metal detectorists in and around Canterbury, and to demonstrate how these finds add to the picture of the area's past.

 The exhibition will feature regular finds surgeries run by the Kent Finds Liaison Officer, Andrew Richardson, as well as educational and interactive events.  Many important finds will be displayed for the first time, including an important group of Roman cremation vessels found by local detectorists and excavated under the supervision of Andrew Richardson.

The HIDDEN TREASURE exhibition will take place at the Museum of Canterbury, Stour Street, open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm (last entry 4pm). Usual admission charge applies, but free to Canterbury residents. 

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Anglo Saxon Gold “Pyramidal” Sword Belt Fitting found at Bembridge, Isle of Wight

Published: Monday 3rd November 2003 Author:

The Isle of Wight has long been noted for the rich grave goods found in the Anglo Saxon cemeteries of Bowcombe Down and Chessell Down, which date back to the Island's pagan past in the sixth century AD. Now an important new Anglo Saxon find has been discovered in Bembridge Parish. This item of Treasure, a gold sword belt fitting, was found on 22nd September 2002, by Darren Trickey, using a metal detector. The BritishMuseum has provided a technical report on the sword belt fitting for the Isle of Wight Coroner. Details of the find, given below, are taken from the BritishMuseum report.

The sword belt fitting is the most elaborate piece of metal-work or jewellery to have been found on the Island since the excavations at Bowcombe and Chessell in the nineteenth century. The gold fitting has an octagonal base and is decorated with sixteen panels divided into cells. Originally these cells were inlaid with garnets, only one of which now survives. At the base of the fitting is a bar through which a leather strap would have been threaded. The BritishMuseum has dated the find to the seventh century AD. We know that in the seventh century the pagan Jutes came under the political domination first of the South Saxons and then of the West Saxons, whose king Caedwalla "laid waste Kent and the Isle of Wight" in AD 686, according to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle. The eighth century historian, the Venerable Bede, credits Caedwalla with converting the local Jutish population of the Isle of Wight to Christianity. If this is the case, his conversion methods sound rather drastic! According to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, however, the Island had accepted Christianity some twenty five years earlier when it was first ruled by the South Saxons.

Sword fitting

We cannot date the sword belt fitting more specifically than to say it is of seventh century date - nor can we be certain that it belonged to an Island resident. As it was found on the beach it may have been dropped by someone visiting (or even invading) the Island. We can be confident, however, that its owner was of very high rank, as the sword was the weapon worn by men of wealth and position in Anglo Saxon society. The Bembridge sword belt fitting is particularly fine and its octagonal form makes it a unique example of such an item. These fittings were generally made of either copper-alloy or silver but the Bembridge example belongs to a small high-status group made of gold or gold sheet, one of which comes from the seventh century royal ship burial at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. We can thus make certain assumptions about the owner of the Bembridge sword belt fitting although his identity will always remain a mystery.

Frank Basford Finds Liaison Officer & Coroner's Officer Isle of Wight Archaeology & Historic Environment Service 17 August 2003 01983 823810

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Time Team Big Dig Finds Surgeries

Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2003 Author:

As part of Time Team's Big Dig, excavation at the site of Marton Village, Middlesborough will continue this weekend 25-26 October.  Phillipa Walton will be holding Finds Identification surgeries on both days (from 10am until 4pm on Saturday and 10am-1pm on Sunday). There will also be the opportunity to handle finds from various periods.

@ Captain Cook Birthplace Museum
Stewart Park

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Large increase in treasure finds on the way says Arts Minister Estelle Morris

Published: Friday 17th October 2003 Author:

Large increase in treasure finds on the way says Arts Minister Estelle Morris

The Treasure Annual Report published today shows that reported cases of Treasure can be expected to increase further with the expansion of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

From December there will be a network of Finds Liaison Officers across England and Wales actively working with finders to ensure the reporting of Treasure finds. A study in the latest Annual Report demonstrates that the presence of a Finds Liaison Officer can increase the number of finds reported as Treasure by up to five times.

Arts Minister Estelle Morris said:

" Once again this report demonstrates the success of the Treasure Act. It also shows how improvements to the Act and the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme have led to a substantial rise in the number of significant new finds that would otherwise not have been reported.

" I am also pleased to see that many objects are going to regional rather than national museums. This will enable people around the country to gain a greater understanding of their local heritage.

" Every now and then a superb find like that of the Ringlemere gold cup reminds us of our hidden heritage - the treasure that lies under our soil waiting to be discovered. It brings the past to the surface and provides tangible evidence about the lives and skills of those who preceded us. We now have a framework in place through the Treasure Act which enables the significance of such finds to be properly assessed by archaeologists and historians. That adds immeasurably to the understanding we all have about the history of this country."

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Finds Liaison Officers Examine Over 1,300 Objects at BBC Hidden Treasure Roadshow Event – 11 October 2003

Published: Monday 13th October 2003 Author:

To coincide with the BBC Hidden Treasure series the Portable Antiquities Scheme organised 'finds roadshows' in Cambridge, Cardiff, Liverpool, London, Market Harborough, Taunton, Worcester and York.

Finds experts from the Portable Antiquities Scheme were on hand to identify and records archaeological finds discovered by the public. Over 490 people visited the roadshow events, with the Finds Liaison Officers examining over 1,300 objects of which 509 are to be recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme finds database -


Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones opened the BBC Hidden Treasure event at Cambridge Central Library. Cambridgeshire County Council's Archaeological Section put on various displays, including finds from recent archaeological excavations and finds handling sessions. The most interesting find recorded was a polished Neolithic axehead, but the finds experts also examined other amazing finds, including Roman coins and a single collection of over 100 objects from a village near Cambridge.


The event in Cardiff took place in the Archaeology Education Room at the National Museum & Gallery of Wales. Visitors to the museum were also treated to talks on 'recent coin treasures from Wales', the 'conservation of archaeological finds' and 'identifying Roman pottery'. Amongst the finds recorded was a Roman ring, seal matricies and a large collection of worked flint.

 Mark Lodwick (Finds Co-ordinator Wales) records finds at the finds roadshow in Cardiff.

Image: Mark Lodwick (Finds Co-ordinator Wales) records finds at the finds roadshow in Cardiff.


Nick Herepath (North-West Finds Liaison Officer) was interviewed by BBC Radio Merseyside prior to the finds roadshow at Liverpool Museum, and the event was videoed by two journalism students from John Moores University. The finds recorded included a silver Roman ring, complete with intaglio, a silver-gilt Tudor clothes fastener and a millstone found in the garden of a former mill. One finder brought his entire collection of finds discovered over many years.

The silver-gilt Tudor clothes fastener recorded at the Liverpool finds roadshow.

Image: The silver-gilt Tudor clothes fastener recorded at the Liverpool finds roadshow.


The London event, at the Museum of London, was opened by Jenny Jones - the Deputy Mayor of London. Visitors included Ian Potts who produced the BBC Hidden Treasure series and archaeologist Neil Faulkner who wrote the series book. The West Kent Detecting Club and Conservators at the Museum of London organised displays for the public. The finds recorded included a medieval strap-end, a theatre token and a rather nice collection of clay pipes.

Ros Tyrell 

Image: Ros Tyrell (Buckinghamshire Finds Liaison Officer) and Nicole Weller (London Finds Liaison Officers) examine a collection of clay pipes brought to the finds roadshow in London. 

Market Harborough

Mr Wallace, the finder of the Leicestershire Iron Age Coin Hoard which featured in the BBC Hidden Treasure series attended the event at Harbour Museum. On display were detector finds, 'dig boxes' so that children can excavate finds and the museum's 'archaeological simulator', which shows how archaeological excavation works. Amongst the finds recorded on the day was an Anglo-Saxon cruciform brooch, a pilgrim's flask and silver Roman coins.

Tom Brindle (Northamptonshire Finds Liaison Officer) said 'it was notable that people recording finds at the event had not previously done so, and now the event had highlighted the work of the Scheme they said they would continue to record their discoveries in the future'.

 The Anglo-Saxon brooch recorded at the finds roadshow in Market Harborough.

Image: The Anglo-Saxon brooch recorded at the finds roadshow in Market Harborough.


The event at Somerset County Museum included behind the scenes tours of the archaeology section at the museum and tours of the archaeology galleries, which proved very popular. There was also a demonstration of the online version of the Somerset Sites and Monuments Record. The most interesting find recorded on the day was a medieval mirror case with stamped decoration.    

 Medieval mirror case

Image: The Medieval mirror case recorded at the finds roadshow in Taunton


At the Commandery in Worcester visitors were able to see a display about how Portable Antiquities data and the Sites and Monuments Records have added to our knowledge of a local parish. Amongst the objects recorded was an Iron Age bucket mount, an Iron Age gold stater, a C17th seal matrix and some flint artefacts.


The Yorkshire Post, the Yorkshire Evening Press and the Northern Echo all covered the Hidden Treasure Roadshow at the Yorkshire Museum. Amongst the visitor attractions was a slide show of recent finds reported through the Scheme and a display of detector finds. A large number of finds were brought in for identification including a gold and garnet Anglo-Saxon pendant from North Lincolnshire, Roman brooches from North Yorkshire and a Neolithic handaxe.

 The Anglo-Saxon pendant recorded at the finds roadshow in York.

Image: The Anglo-Saxon pendant recorded at the finds roadshow in York.

For those unable to attend one of the Hidden Treasure roadshows the Portable Antiquities Scheme is still enthusiastic to record your finds. For the contact details of your local Finds Liaison Officer logon to or phone 0207 323 8611.

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ToadHMS makes Portable Antiquities Scheme Database unique

Published: Tuesday 30th September 2003 Author:

Oxford, 30 September 2003:  Technology from Oxford ArchDigital is driving the Portable Antiquities Scheme, the national scheme that records archaeological finds by members of the public and makes them available on the Web.  ToadHMS is a complete, web-based data and image management system and it uniquely allows users, such as the Scheme's Finds Liaison Officers as well as members of the public, to enter data directly through their web browsers.  Its integrated Workflow and Data Quarantine facility ensures that all data is accurately validated by specialists before it is published on the Internet.

Roger Bland, Co-ordinator of the Portable Antiquities Scheme said:

"ToadHMS has enabled us to create a living heritage resource on the Web. Instead of being mere observers, members of the public will be helping to create the resource and so feel a sense of ownership in it as it grows," says  "The contents of the site will never be the same two days in a row, and yet the data that appears on it will be fully validated.  As a result, we have a valuable, evolving tool for all who are interested in our past, whether they are professionals, or members of the general public."

ToadHMS enables the Portable Antiquities Scheme to be a completely web-based system.  It can be accessed by project officers and members of the public via any browser on a PC or laptop and runs on Windows, Linux and UNIX operating systems using a large number of underlying databases, including MS SQL, MySQL or Oracle.

The system is watertight in allowing for data to be validated before it is published on the web.  For example, when a member of the public submits data, it enters a 'quarantine' area for checking by a specialist.  Alternatively the person could give their information directly to one of the Scheme's 37 Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs). Then in turn it is validated by one of the four Finds Specialists who are part of the Scheme. Subsets of the data can be taken offline, added, edited and then synchronised with the server at a later date, which helps FLOs to enter data in the field or when using computers with slow Internet access. 

Searching the database couldn't be easier as it seamlessly integrates text, images and mapping data in a single, intuitive interface.  Selecting any find will bring up the full record relating to that find, including a photograph if one is available. One more click will show a map of Britain where it was found. Security is provided by a hierarchical system of user and group-level access control, a particularly useful feature when it is necessary to restrict access to sensitive information such as specific map references.  

Image management is fully integrated, rather than based on supplementary HTML pages, supports all of the common image file formats and is totally copyright protective.  When an image is selected, the system delivers a proxy over the web which, depending on the end user's credentials and requirements, is watermarked or re-sampled.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme has been live since 1998 and its popularity is growing rapidly. This year alone, the website ( is on course for over 1.5 million hits, 500,000 higher than the previous period. There are currently 53,000 records on the system which are all available for the public to browse through.  The Scheme is designed for expansion, and future plans include developing its educational applications and making more raw data available to the research community. 

"However, the success of national TV shows such as Time Team and Meet the Ancestors prove the enormous amount of public interest in archaeology," continues Roger Bland.  "So we are working hard with Oxford ArchDigital to ensure that the site develops to have the widest possible appeal."


The Portable Antiquities Scheme:
Additional Information on ToadHMS:
Oxford ArchDigital:
The British Museum:

For further information please contact Antony David, Spriggs David, Tel: 01865 512662 Email:

Oxford ArchDigital (OAD) provides systems and advice to museums, archaeologists, local authorities and other heritage bodies whose responsibilities include the care and management of artefacts, historical sites and collections. The company was launched in early 2001 with funding from The University of Oxford and private investors and benefits from cutting edge IT developed within the University specifically for the task, together with the wealth of experience the founders brought with them.

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