Treasure Annual Report 2001

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This is the fourth annual report to Parliament on the operation of the Treasure Act 1996 and contains details of 214 new cases discovered or reported during the year 2001. This Report, like its predecessors, lists all 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.
The number of reported Treasure finds made during 2001 was 214, slightly lower than the figures for 2000 (221) and 1999 (223). This decrease can be attributed to the restrictions to public access to farmland during much of 2001 as a result of Foot and Mouth disease. It is, however, just a temporary decrease and the long-term trend continues to be upward: 306 cases have been reported in 2002 and 155 during the first 6 months of 2003. Given that 25 finds a year were being declared Treasure Trove before the introduction of the Treasure Act in September 1997, this represents a very significant increase.

Extension of the Treasure Act

In Tessa Jowell’s Foreword to the Treasure Annual Report 2000 she described the review of the Treasure Act which resulted in the publication in October 2001 of the Report on the Operation of the Treasure Act: Review and Recommendations (available on the Department’s website at www.culture.gov.uk/cultural_property.htm). Since then, we have implemented the two most important recommendations of this Report: an extension of the Act to include prehistoric basemetal deposits and a revision of the Treasure Code of Practice.
The Order that gave effect to the extension of the Act and the revised Treasure Code of Practice were approved by Parliament in October 2002, following debates in both Houses, and came into effect on 1 January 2003. Under the terms of the Order any finds that fall into either of the following two categories will, if found from 1 January 2003, be Treasure. The two categories are:

  • any object (other than a coin), any part of which is base metal, which, when found, is one of at least two base metal objects in the same find which are of prehistoric date; and
  • any object, other than a coin, which is of prehistoric date, and any part of which is gold or silver.
     

The revised edition of the Treasure Code of Practice was published in December last year (2002). It contains a number of clarifications and improvements to the previous Code. It also contains more practical information: for example, all the local advisers on Treasure are listed (in England these are the Finds Liaison Officers), as well as the principal funding bodies. A separate version of the Code has been published for Northern Ireland. In March, the Department published a new version of its leaflet providing information for finders of Treasure. Both these publications are available on the Department’s website (www.culture.gov.uk/cultural_property.htm).

Portable Antiquities Scheme

Last year Tessa Jowell was pleased to announce that the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to fund in full a bid from Resource: the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, for an expansion of the Portable Antiquities Scheme for three years from April 2003. The aim of the Portable Antiquities Scheme is to record all archaeological objects found by members of the public on a voluntary basis for public benefit. The data is published on the Portable Antiquities website (www.finds.org.uk) and is also being made available to the Sites and Monuments Record. All the Treasure cases in this Report will be available on the Portable Antiquities website.

Since 1997 there have been pilot schemes providing coverage of less than half of England and all of Wales. Resource’s lottery bid, which includes 63 national and regional partners, means that this year the Scheme is being extended across the whole of England and Wales. By the end of 2003 there will be a national network of 37 finds liaison officers, together with four finds adviser posts and a central support team of five. The Portable Antiquities Scheme has funding until 2006. We will therefore be looking sympathetically at the case for putting the Scheme on a permanent footing in the next spending review.

Although the Finds Liaison Officers have a much wider role than just dealing with Treasure finds (over 95 per cent of the objects they record are not Treasure), providing advice to finders on Treasure is a very important part of their remit. In the revised Code of Practice the Finds Liaison Officers have been given the role of co-ordinators for dealing with cases of Treasure in their areas. Thanks to the proactive approach of the Finds Liaison Officers, a significant number of finds have been reported as Treasure that would otherwise not have been. The presence of Finds Liaison Officers has a substantial impact on the reporting rates of Treasure from their areas, as can be demonstrated by the contrast in the number of Treasure cases reported from neighbouring counties where Finds Liaison Officer posts currently exist and where they do not. For example, Norfolk, which has 1.5 posts, recorded 188 finds between 1997 and 2001 (the equivalent of 1 find per 28 km2 of land), whereas Lincolnshire produced 45 finds (1 find per 131 km2). Similarly Suffolk, which also has 1.5 Finds Liaison Officer posts, had 96 cases (1 per 23 km2), whereas neighbouring Essex had only 37 (1 per 53 km2). Thus the presence of a Finds Liaison Officer may increase the reporting rate of Treasure finds by a factor of between two and five.

The national museums

While the expanded team of Finds Liaison Officers is now taking on a greater role in dealing with Treasure cases, the bulk of the expertise in providing advice on such finds rests with the British Museum, the National Museums & Galleries of Wales and the Ulster Museum. A recent survey within the British Museum found that dealing with Treasure occupied the time of the equivalent of ten full-time members of staff, compared with three before the introduction of the Treasure Act in 1997. The British Museum’s decision to create a Treasure Registrar post in October 2001 has been very helpful in facilitating the administration of Treasure casework and we also welcome the Museum’s plan to develop a case-tracking system which will further aid this process.

Coroners

The Coroners’ Service has a central role in the Treasure system. We much appreciate the part played by Victor Round, H M Coroner for Worcestershire, and Assistant Secretary of the Coroners’ Society for England and Wales, for his role in assisting and advising his fellow Coroners about Treasure. My Department, with the British Museum, held a seminar on Treasure for Coroners in December 2002, which was attended by some thirty Coroners and their officers, together with representatives of the National Council for Metal Detecting and the Finds Liaison Officers. The meeting provided a very valuable opportunity for all parties to discuss issues and problems relating to the administration of Treasure and we hope to make it an annual event.

Finders

As the Secretary of State has done in previous years, I would like to acknowledge the role of finders in reporting their finds promptly, as required by the Treasure Act. Metal-detector users have found the great majority of the treasure finds reported here; without their active co-operation the Act would be ineffective. The National Council for Metal Detecting has continued to make a positive contribution to the process. It is a pleasure to record that in three cases (nos. 109, 203 and 212) the finders and landowners waived their right to a reward.

Treasure Valuation Committee

I am particularly grateful to the Treasure Valuation Committee and its panel of expert advisers for their work. The Committee, which provides Ministers with independent advice on the valuation of treasure finds that museums wish to acquire, is now dealing with over a hundred cases a year. During the past year the Committee has advised on a number of finds where there have been grounds for abating the reward to the finder and/or the landowner (see below, nos. 178 and 190). The Committee has also reduced the reward to the finder in a number of cases where it has decided that the finder has cleaned the object inappropriately (see, for example, no.1). It is important to stress to all those who find Treasure that they should follow the guidance in the Treasure Act Code of Practice (paragraph 47) and leave objects in the condition in which they are when removed from the ground, as far as possible. Inappropriate cleaning can easily destroy vital evidence about the context of the find, besides reducing its commercial value. The Committee will abate the reward to the finder in such cases, following the provision of paragraph 79 (viii), which states that finders may expect to receive an abated reward or no reward at all 

‘where significant damage has been done deliberately or recklessly either to the actual object, or to a surrounding monument...’

I am very grateful to the Committee and its Chairman, Professor Norman Palmer, for the very careful consideration they have given to these and all the other cases that have come before them. I would like to thank the other members of the Committee: Mr Thomas Curtis, Mr Dennis Jordan, Dr Arthur MacGregor, Dr Jack Ogden and Ms May Sinclair for their contributions.

I would also like to pay tribute to the members of 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 of Bonham’s, Ms Susan Hadida of Faustus Ancient Art, Ms Mary Fielden, Mr Peter Clayton of Seaby’s and Mr Richard Falkiner. Their expertise plays an essential role in the valuation process.

Acquisition of treasure by museums

During the current year more finds have been disclaimed (89), or found not to be treasure (26) than were declared to be treasure and have been, or are being, acquired by museums (99). As in previous years, the great bulk of finds (95 per cent) have been discovered by metal detector users, two per cent by chance finders and three per cent during the course of archaeological investigations.

Funding bodies play an essential role in supporting the acquisition of treasure finds by museums, particularly the V&A/Resource Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is, nevertheless, a matter of concern that in 12 of the cases listed in this report a museum initially expressed an interest in acquiring the find, but subsequently withdrew, generally because it was unable to raise the money to pay the reward. These 12 cases concerned six different museums (15 and 57: British Museum; 34 and 64: Maidstone Museum; 59 and 93: the Yorkshire Museum; 63: Hull City Museums and Art Gallery; 84, 88, 97 and 112: Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds and 87: Norwich Castle Museum). In three more cases where the local museum was unable to proceed, the British Museum was able to acquire the find: nos. 42 (Worcestershire County Museum), 82 (Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds) and 126 (Hull City Museums and Art Gallery).

Lastly, I would like to record my thanks to the 41 contributors for their entries in this Report. It has been our aim to ensure that these Annual Reports on Treasure, besides fulfilling the statutory obligation to report to Parliament each year on the operation of the Act, also serve as a useful first publication of the finds presented herein. That this is so is thanks to the scholarship of the experts listed overleaf.

The Act has certainly succeeded in its primary aim of ensuring that more finds of important archaeological objects are offered to museums for public benefit. In addition, there has been a substantial gain in our knowledge of artefact types and their distributions since the introduction of the Act – knowledge that would otherwise be lost. With the forthcoming expansion of the Portable Antiquities Scheme there will be more resources to ensure the more efficient running of the Treasure Act besides a great increase in the numbers of non-treasure finds that are recorded for public benefit.

Estelle Morris, Minister of State for the Arts July 2003

 

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