Treasure Annual Report 2004

The cover of the 2004 Treasure Annual Report

Full version of this report available in pdf format - 6.6MB

This is the seventh Annual Report to Parliament on the operation of the Treasure Act 1996. Like its predecessors, it lists all the finds that were reported as potential Treasure to the British Museum, the National Museums & Galleries of Wales and the Environment and Heritage Service, Northern Ireland. This Report contains details of 506 new cases reported during 2004. Of these cases, 231 new Treasure finds have been, or are being, acquired by Museums across the country, while 206 have been disclaimed, 67 were deemed not to be Treasure and two cases are still to be determined.

The number of finds being reported as Treasure continues to increase rapidly: in 2001 there were 214 cases, while in 2004 the total stood at 506. This is largely due to the expansion of the Portable Antiquities Scheme in 2003, when 21 new Finds Liaison Officers were appointed across the country. Finds Liaison Officers play a crucial role in the effective operation of the Treasure Act, encouraging finders to report their finds and guiding them through the Treasure process. Since this point, there has been, on average, a 153 per cent increase in reported Treasure finds. In some areas, the increase has been as great as 1,186 per cent. I would like to congratulate those finders who promptly report their finds in accordance with the Code of Practice on Responsible Metal Detecting.

I am glad to record the results of their actions in this Report and to praise them for their enthusiasm for and commitment to the responsible practice of their hobby. 93 per cent of the finds in this Report were found by metal-detector users and I would like to acknowledge the role that the National Council for Metal Detecting has played, not only in disseminating advice and information to its members, but also in communicating the views and experiences of those members back to my Department.

I would also like to praise the contribution made by the staffs of the British Museum, of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and of the Ulster Museum. The Treasure process requires input from their curators, conservators, scientists and a central treasure registry, all of whom continue to achieve high standards of service despite an increased workload.

I am most grateful to the Treasure Valuation Committee for its provision of independent advice on the valuation of Treasure finds. I commend particularly the Chairman, Professor Norman Palmer CBE, for his dedication and am delighted to note that his services to art and law were recognised in the 2006 New Year’s Honours List. Professor Palmer, Dr Jack Ogden, Mr Trevor Austin, Mr Thomas Curtis, Dr Arthur MacGregor, and Ms May Sinclair, have continued to give freely and generously of their time and expertise.

The work of the Committee receives vital support from the panel of expert advisers from whom the Committee commissions provisional valuations: Mr Michael Sharp of Dix Noonan Webb, Mr James Ede of Charles Ede Ltd, Mr Tom Eden of Morton and Eden, Ms Elizabeth Mitchell of Sotheby’s, Ms Joanna van der Lande, Mr Peter Clayton of Seaby’s, Mr Richard Falkiner, Mr Peter Spencer, Mr Timothy Kent and Ms Charlotte Sayers. I would like to express my appreciation of their knowledge and advice.

Funding bodies play an essential role in supporting the acquisition of Treasure finds by museums, particularly the Art Fund, the V&A/MLA Purchase Grant Fund, and the Headley Museums Treasure Acquisition Scheme (www.headleytreasures.org.uk), which operates in conjunction with the Purchase Grant Fund. Since the period covered in this Report, there have been a number of initiatives to address the increased number of reported treasure finds.

In January 2006, my Department launched a new initiative to encourage finders and landowners to consider donating finds to museums, by giving certificates to all those who have waived their rights to a reward. It is very encouraging that in this Report interested parties have waived their rights to a reward in the case of 28 finds, a very substantial increase on the nine cases reported in the 2003 Annual Report.

The Coroners’ Service, which has always played a central role in the Treasure system, is about to undergo a period of general reform which is likely to have an effect on their handling of Treasure cases. In June 2006, the Department of Constitutional Affairs published a draft Coroners’ Bill which proposes the establishment of a single coroner to deal with all Treasure cases from England and Wales and proposes a number of other amendments to the Treasure Act. I am grateful to all the coroners for their work, and continue to appreciate the part played by Victor Round, H M Coroner for Worcestershire, and Secretary of the Coroners’ Society of England and Wales.
 

In April 2006, my Department issued a consultation paper on transferring a number of administrative responsibilities for Treasure for which it is currently responsible to the British Museum (both the consultation and the Department’s response to it are available online via http://www.culture.gov.uk/Reference_library/Consultations ).We will ensure that there are adequate safeguards to avoid any conflict of interest between the British Museum’s role of administering the system when at the same time it continues to acquire finds of Treasure. It is our belief that these proposals will improve both the delivery and the efficiency of the process and I hope to be able to take them forward later this year.
In addition, we are currently in the process of expanding the Treasure Valuation Committee by two additional members.

David Lammy Minister for Culture October 2006
 

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