News from the Scheme

PAS Website and Database Unavailable Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th November

Published: About one month ago Author:

The website and database will be unavailable between Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th November while they are transferred to new servers. During this time you will still be able to visit the site and database, although viewing may be limited and you won't be able to make any edits.Any edits or work done within this period will be lost. Within that window, the site will be inaccessible for a period between 1 and 24 hours while IS test that the site is working on its new server.

Institute for Detectorists Survey Launch

Published: 9 months ago Author:

The Association of Detectorists are the recipients of funding from Historic England to explore the feasibility of setting up an Institute which represents and supports responsible metal detecting.

The Association has launched a survey to understand more about what detectorists and other interested people think about the idea of developing an Institute for Detectorists, including more information about its possible role and what it might offer potential members.

The survey includes questions about the role the proposed Institute may take in advocating for detectorists and detecting, and as a membership organisation offering training, recognition and other benefits.

Feedback will help the Association define the role, remit and structure of the proposed Institute, especially in relation to its strategic aims and priorities, and membership options for the differing interests of the detecting community.

To take part in the survey please visithttps://forms.gle/5H3W5VuYWstxDkMa9. The survey will close on the 15th March.

More information on the Association of Detectorists can be found here.

Garden finds boost numbers of archaeological discoveries recorded during Lockdown

Published: 12 months ago Author:

The current COVID-19 pandemic has seen a boost in finds from back-gardens recorded with the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme, as well as an increase in digital recording, especially during 'full lockdown' (22 March to 13 May) when metal-detecting was prohibited and in the second 'lockdown' (from 5 November), with restrictions on how people exercise. During the first lockdown, 6,251 finds were recorded with the PAS and the records of 22,507 finds on the database were updated; so far this year (2020) over 47,000 finds have been recorded. This has included some very special and intriguing discoveries:

A rare find of 50 modern South African Krugerrand 1oz solid gold coins were found by chance in a back-garden in the Milton Keynes area (BUC-944E2C); they were minted by the Rand Refinery in Germiston in the 1970s during the period of apartheid. How they ended up in Milton Keynes and why they were buried are, for the moment, a mystery. The Coroner, who will decide whether they are classed as 'Treasure' (under the historic crown right of treasure trove predating the current Treasure Act), will need to determine whether the original owner of the coins (or their heirs) are known. It is hoped that by making the find public, someone with information will come forward to either the Milton Keynes coroner or the British Museum.

63 gold coins and 1 silver coin of Edward IV through to Henry VIII, and deposited in about 1540, were uncovered in the New Forest area, Hampshire as the finders pulled out weeds in their garden (HAMP-EC901C). Ranging across nearly a century, dating from the late 15th to early 16th centuries, the hoard includes four coins from Henry VIII's reign, unusually featuring the initials of his wives Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour. The total value of the coins far exceeds the average annual wage in the Tudor period, but it is not yet clear whether this was a saving hoard which was regularly deposited into or if the coins were buried all at once.

Besides these finds, which will go through the Treasure process and which finders have a legal obligation to report, a number of other interesting items have been recorded in 2020 through the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme. These include:

A copper-alloyRoman furniture fitting, found in Old Basing, Hampshire (SUR-77CBD4), and dating from c.AD 43-200. It is decorated with the remarkably well-preserved face of the god Oceanus, including intricate seaweed fronds framing the god's face, beard and moustache. Tiny dolphins beneath each ear swim down towards the god's chin, whilst serpentine creatures rest on either side of Oceanus' temples - marine motifs related to the god. So far, no close parallel has been identified among the decoration on household fixtures and fittings for chests, couches or doors of this period, making this item seemingly unique.

Discovered atDursley, Gloucestershire (GLO-031814), was a lead-alloymedieval seal matrixin the name of David, Bishop of St Andrews, identified as David de Bernham (r. 1239-53). The pointed-oval (vessica) matrix shows the bishop standing in his vestments, with a crozier in his left hand. The inscription in Latin reads 'David, God's messenger, bishop of St Andrews'. High-status seal matrices are usually made of copper-alloy or even silver. Given the material, and the relatively low-quality manufacture of this piece, it is thought likely that this is a contemporary forgery, perhaps used to authenticate copied documents.

A copper-alloy medieval mount, typically worn on low slung belts over armour, that has been gilded, silvered and enamelled, was found at Colyton, Devon (SOM-F219CB). Depicting the white boar of Richard III (r. 1483-85), used as the personal badge by Richard, formerly Duke of Gloucester, from at least the 1470s. Badges were produced in large number for his coronation, the investiture of his son (Edward) as Prince of Wales, and worn by his supporters. It is likely, therefore, that this example was from a belt, or similar, used by one of Richard's retinue or supporters.

The announcement comes as the British Museum launched thePortable Antiquities Scheme Annual Report for 2019, which details that 81,602 public finds were logged last year, an increase of over 10,000 on 2018's report. Norfolk yielded the most finds, with 13% of this total, whilst Hampshire and Suffolk account for 7% each. These finds have led to the discovery of exciting archaeological sites, ranging from a high-status Iron Age to Roman dispersed settlement with associated burials in Kent and an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Lincolnshire, but also a more general picture of how people lived in the past, and where they settled and worked.

The PAS database (finds.org.uk/database) holds information on over 1,514,000 objects, all freely accessible to the public. The Scheme exists to record archaeological finds discovered by the public to advance knowledge and understanding of British history through research and furthering public interest in the past. Most are found by metal-detectorists - over 90% of 2019's finds - and a responsible approach to searching finds (as outlined in theCode of Practice for Responsible Metal-detecting) that helps preserve our understanding of these objects and enhance our knowledge of the PAS. The PAS is a partnership project, managed by the British Museum (in England) and hosted by theAmgueddfa Cymru- National Museum Wales (in Wales), and consisting of 40 locally based Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs), whose job it is to record archaeological finds made by the public.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said "The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is a unique partnership, that brings together archaeologists, museum professionals, landowners and finders, especially within the metal-detecting community, to better understand, appreciate and protect Britain's rich past. The British Museum, together with our colleagues in Wales and a network of local partners across both countries, is proud of its role in delivering the PAS and reaching communities across England and Wales."

Caroline Dinenage, Culture Minister, said: "Like all of us, the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme has had to adapt in recent months but it is brilliant to see the scheme growing from strength to strength during lockdown thanks to garden discoveries and digital reporting. I'd like to thank every finder and Finds Liaison Officer whose commitment and hard work has kept this important scheme running smoothly this year."

Michael Lewis, Head of PAS and Treasure at the British Museum, said: "The Portable Antiquities Scheme has an essential role in recording archaeological finds made by the public and supporting the statutory provisions of the Treasure Act 1996. Even at this time, through the Covid-19 pandemic, our team of Finds Liaison Officers have continued to reach-out to metal-detectorists and others to ensure finds, important for understanding Britain's past, are not lost but instead recorded for posterity."

1.5 million archaeological objects have been unearthed by the public, British Museum reveals

Published: About one year ago Author:

The British public have discovered many hundreds of thousands of archaeological objects, and today the British Museum reveals that the number recorded to its Portable Antiquities Scheme has hit a milestone 1.5 million. These finds have radically transformed what we know about life through time on the British Isles.

The British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) was first set up in 1997 so that archaeological objects found by the public can be recorded to help advance our knowledge of past. It reached 1.5 million object records on Wednesday. The item that helped cross this historic milestone was a medieval lead papal bulla (a seal for authorising papal documents, such as edicts and indulgencies) of Pope Innocent IV (r.1243-54), that was found in Shropshire.

All the discoveries on the PAS database since its inception 23 years ago have been made by members of the public. Most of them are found buried in the ground by metal detectorists. Thanks to the public's efforts, including those made through responsible metal-detecting, our understanding of past communities living in Britain over thousands of years has radically improved. Many individual finds have transformed what we know almost overnight and have become some of the most famous historical objects in the UK, such as the gold treasures of the Staffordshire Hoard.

A number of discoveries are so important to the history of the life in Britain that they have been acquired or displayed by museums for the public to enjoy. But all the information recorded on the PAS database is freely available to anyone, and is used by students, scholars, researchers and the public alike.

To celebrate this important milestone, the British Museum with BBC History Magazine today also reveal 10 discoveries by the public and recorded on the PAS which experts have judged to have most transformed our knowledge of the past. These include a silver-gilt badge in the shape of a Boar found near the site of King Richard III's death in battle, and the discovery of thousands of Roman 'grots' - worn-down coins - which has reshaped our understanding of Roman Britain. The full list can be seen in this month's edition of BBC History magazine.

There is a large diversity amongst the 1.5 million discoveries. They range in size from vast coin hoards - the biggest was the Frome Hoard of 52,500 coins - to one-of-a-kind single pieces such as the 3,500-year-old Ringlemere Cup. The oldest items include prehistoric-worked flint from 700,000 years ago; the youngest include 20th-century military badges. Recorded finds include arrowheads, axes, beads, brooches, buckles, coins, combs, finger-rings, gaming pieces, knives, sculpture, spindle whorls, tokens and vervels.

PAS was first created as a pilot scheme in 1997. In 2003, it was expanded across the whole of England and Wales (thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant) to ensure that knowledge and information about finds was recorded for public benefit. The PAS is a partnership project, managed by the British Museum (in England) and Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales. It is funded in England through the British Museum's grant-in-aid from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), with local partner contributions, and is one of the main ways the museum reaches across the UK through its national activity.

The front line of the Scheme in England is its network of 40 Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs) who are archaeologists trained to identify and record finds. They are all locally based covering the whole country, employed within museums and other heritage organisations, but overseen the British Museum.

From 23 March to 12 May 2020, metal-detecting and other forms of searching for archaeological finds were essentially prohibited under the coronavirus lockdown. Only a handful of objects were still being found, mostly by people digging in their gardens. These include some coin finds, pottery fragments and worked flint.

But while the number of new reported discoveries decreased during lockdown, work to record a backlog of finds continued. Over 6,000 objects that were found before 23 March were uploaded on to the PAS database during the six-week lockdown period, helping to push the overall figure towards the 1.5million milestone.

Since the relaxing of lockdown rules from 13 May 2020, it has been possible for finders to go out searching for objects again as long as they maintain social-distancing rules. There remains a legal obligation for people to report Treasure finds and stop if they find any archaeology in situ (so that a find, such as a coin hoard, remains undisturbed from when it was deposited). For other finds, finders are being asked to make a note of the findspot and hold onto these (in most cases) until they can be brought in to the FLO for recording.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said "1.5 million finds is an historic milestone for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and the British Museum wishes to thank everyone who has voluntarily come forward to record their discoveries so we can all learn more about our shared past. We are proud of our work with the PAS and it is a unique partnership between the British Museum and our national and local partners across England and Wales. We look forward to many more objects being recorded, and who knows what exciting discoveries are yet to be found."

Michael Lewis, Head of PAS and Treasure at the British Museum, said: "There is no doubt that these finds have transformed our understanding of the history and archaeology of England and Wales, and that of Britain more generally. Some of these items are spectacular and are finds of a lifetime. But even the smallest and most modest items offer clues about our history, so we encourage everyone who makes a find to continue to come forward."

Search the full PAS database at finds.org.uk

Searching for archaeological objects during COVID-19

Published: About one year ago Author:

For current government advice on searching for archaeological finds (with a metal-detector, field-walking or mudlarking) in England during COVID-19 please see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-on-searching-for-archaeological-finds-in-england-during-covid-19

PASt Explorers Conference 2019 – Save the Date!

Published: 2 years ago Author:

This year will be our final PASt Explorers Conference as the project draws to a close in October. We'd be delighted if you could join us to celebrate the project on Friday 21st June 2019 at the British Museum. So please save the date and we look forward to seeing you there! Details of speakers and timings to follow.

Last few conference tickets remaining!

Published: 3 years ago Author:

PAS Conference 2018 Recording Britain's Past 12 October 2018

The British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has recorded over 1.3 million finds - each one a unique discovery made by a member of the public. This conference celebrates 15 years of the Scheme, with a day or discussion and debate. These explore how thePASis advancing knowledge, sharing information about the past, encouraging best practice and supporting museum acquisitions of Treasure and other finds.

Talks on 'advancing knowledge' (Dr Tom Brindle), 'best practice' (Faye Minter), 'sharing knowledge' (Dr Adam Daubney) and 'supporting museums' (Dr Andrew Woods), with panel discussions led by Prof Carenza Lewis, Dr Mike Heyworth, Dr Helen Geake and Gail Boyle.

Other panellists include Sir Barry Cunliffe, Dr Kevin Leahy, Dr Amanda Chadburn, Dr Neil Wilkin, Dr Sam Moorhead, Dr Tim Pestell and Dr Julia Farley.


Friday 12 October, 11:00-17:00
BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum, London
£12 (£10), advanced booking required


Book tickets now

http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/events_calendar/event_detail.aspx?eventId=4695&title=Recording

+44 (0)20 7323 8181

PAS Conference 2018 Recording Britain’s Past

Published: 3 years ago Author:

The British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has recorded over 1.3 million finds - each one a unique discovery made by a member of the public. This conference celebrates 15 years of the Scheme, with a day or discussion and debate. These explore how the PAS is advancing knowledge, sharing information about the past, encouraging best practice and supporting museum acquisitions of Treasure and other finds.

Talks on 'advancing knowledge' (Dr Tom Brindle), 'best practice' (Faye Minter), 'sharing knowledge' (Dr Adam Daubney) and 'supporting museums' (Dr Andrew Woods), with panel discussions led by Prof Carenza Lewis, Dr Mike Heyworth, Dr Helen Geake and Gail Boyle.

Other panellists include Sir Barry Cunliffe, Dr Kevin Leahy, Dr Amanda Chadburn, Dr Neil Wilkin, Dr Sam Moorhead, Dr Tim Pestell and Dr Julia Farley.


Friday 12 October, 11:00-17:00
BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum, London
£12 (£10), advanced booking required


Book tickets now

http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/events_calendar/event_detail.aspx?eventId=4695&title=Recording

+44 (0)20 7323 8181

Essential maintenance notice

Published: 3 years ago Author:

Between the10th and 12thMarch 2018the Portable Antiquities Scheme website and database will be unavailable while undergoing essential maintenance work. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and hope you can bear with us until we are back online. See you on the 13th March!

David Williams

Published: 3 years ago Author:

David Williams excavates the Watlington Hoard

We heard yesterday that our friend and colleague David Williams, FLO for Surrey and East Berkshire, passed away at the weekend.

David had worked for the PAS since 2003. He was a loyal colleague, always ready to respond to a call for help from his fellow FLOs, whether it be attending a rally miles away from his own home or excavating an in situ find. The most recent example of this is the Watlington hoard of Viking coins, ingots and jewellery, acquired earlier this year by the Ashmolean museum. Day to day, David was an unwavering support to his FLO colleagues, always ready to share his invaluable knowledge with others.

David was passionate about forging good relationships with both finders and landowners. At rallies he was often to be seen walking the fields, chatting to finders and encouraging them to record their finds. He had many loyal finders and David always had time for them, not just to record their finds but as good friends.

David was an involved member and great supporter of the Finds Research Group and contributed a number of datasheets, most notably those on 'Stirrup Terminals' and 'Anglo-Scandinavian Horse Harness Fittings'. Probably his best-known publication amongst finds specialists is the regularly-thumbed CBA Research Report 'Late Saxon Stirrup-Strap Mounts'. David was also a talented illustrator and all his publications are self-illustrated.

David leaves a large hole in PAS and we will miss him very much.

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