News from the Scheme

Coronavirus: important advice on reporting public finds, including potential Treasure, during the coming period

Published: 14 days ago Author:

Under the Treasure Act 1996, it is a legal obligation for the finder to report potential Treasure. For all new finds of potential Treasure, finders must notify their local Finds Liaison Officer and/or the British Museum treasure team (in England) by email (, with photographs of the object and full details of the findspot, finders' and landowners' details, and await further instruction. The necessary precautions mean there may be delays in the Treasure process. We thank finders, landowners, occupiers and everyone involved in the process for their understanding, patience and cooperation during this time.

Portable Antiquities Scheme staff will no longer meet finders in person or undertake outreach work until further notice.Most Portable Antiquities Scheme staff, including Finds Liaison Officers, will remain contactable by email, so, therefore, can advise on the recording of finds (such as self-recording). We ask that you temporarily retain your non-Treasure finds for full recording at a later date. Please ensure that you keep detailed records of the findspot in accordance with the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal-Detecting in England and Wales.

Finders inWalesandNorthern Irelandshould contact the relevant authorities for advice.

Following the latest government social distancing guidance, advising everyone to stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS, do not metal detect during the current situation. All metal-detecting rallies should be cancelled.

PASt Explorers Conference 2019 – Save the Date!

Published: About one year 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: About one year 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

+44 (0)20 7323 8181

PAS Conference 2018 Recording Britain’s Past

Published: About one year 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

+44 (0)20 7323 8181

Essential maintenance notice

Published: 2 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: 2 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.

20th Anniversary Marks Record Year for Treasure Found by the Public

Published: 2 years ago Author:

At the launch of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and Treasure annual reports at the British Museum, John Glen MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, announced that the number of new Treasure discoveries by members of the public had hit a record level, with 1,120 finds in 2016. This is the highest annual figure since the Treasure Act came into law exactly 20 years ago. In addition, there were a further 81,914 archaeological finds recorded through the Portable Antiquities Scheme across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The vast majority of Treasure finds (96%) and PAS finds (88%) were discovered by metal-detector users.

Also announced was an updated Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales, which provides guidance on best archaeological practice for finders.

The Treasure Act (1996) marks its twentieth anniversary this year, having come into law in 1997. The Act was created in order to make it easier for national or local museums to acquire important finds for public benefit. Of the 14,000 Treasure finds over the past 20 years, 40% are now in museum collections which can be enjoyed by local communities and the wider public. These include some of the most well-known archaeological objects in the country, such as the Staffordshire Hoard, a spectacular hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver war gear which has been displayed across the UK and in the USA, and the Frome Hoard, the largest collection of Roman coins in one vessel ever found in Britain.

Over the past 20 years, Treasure and PAS finds have significantly added to our knowledge of the past. For instance, they have offered us a greater insight into ancient trade networks between England and Continental Europe during the Bronze Age, and have also provided the means for us to fundamentally reassess the nature of early medieval trade. Over 1.3 million (1,312,332) PAS finds have been recorded, from prehistoric stone implements to post-medieval buckles, and all are available online for free at To date over 600 research projects, including 126 PhDs, have made major use of PAS data.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said "The PAS is a unique partnership between the British Museum and our national and local partners. Its main aim is to advance knowledge, but the Scheme reaches out to people across the country, and helps bring the past alive. The British Museum is passionate about the PAS and what it achieves, for archaeology and local people."

John Glen MP, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism "Twenty years after the Treasure Act came into force, it is fantastic that Treasure discoveries have reached a record high. Thanks to the PAS, every year thousands of found objects are recorded so we can learn more about our past. I am pleased that a large number of the finds have also been added to museum collections and are on public display."

Michael Lewis, Head of Portable Antiquities & Treasure at the British Museum, said "Metal-detecting can make an immense contribution to archaeological knowledge, if practiced responsibly and the vast majority of people are keen that their hobby has a positive impact. The new Code of Practice for Responsible Metal-Detecting in England and Wales outlines exactly what is expected if people want to help archaeologists better understand our shared past."

Finds on display at the launch

Two Late Bronze Age Hoards from Driffield, East Yorkshire which date to circa 950-850 BC. One hoard contains 158 axes and ingots and is the largest hoard of its kind discovered in Yorkshire. Another consists of 27 axes and ingots. The two hoards were discovered close to one another by Dave Haldenby and were excavated by Kevin Leahy (PAS Finds Adviser). It was first thought such hoards were collated to be re-used by metalworkers but now archaeologists think they might have been buried for ritual purposes. It is hoped that both hoards will be acquired by Hull and East Riding Museum, East Yorkshire.

Roman coin hoard from Piddletrenthide, Dorset, of 2,114 base silver radiates found in a pottery vessel. The coins date to 253-296 AD, of which the latest issues include the earliest products of the newly established Roman mint of London. The hoard was found by detectorist and author Brian Read, and block-lifted by Mike Trevarthen (a local archaeologist). It was unpacked and studied by conservators and archaeologists at the British Museum. This find was a rare opportunity to carry out a full archaeological excavation to try to discover more about why these coins were buried.

Anglo-Saxon grave assemblage from Winfarthing, Norfolk which was found by Thomas Lucking while metal-detecting, and excavated archaeologically. This grave proved to be the burial of a high-status lady buried between about 650-675 AD. It includes a necklace made up of two gold beads, two pendants made from identical Merovingian coins and a gold cross pendant inlaid with delicate filigree wire. Most remarkable was another large pendant worn lower down on the woman's chest. Made of gold, it has hundreds of tiny garnets inlaid into it in cloisonné patterns, including sinuous interlacing beasts and geometrical shapes. Comparable to gold and garnet jewellery from Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard, it marks its wearer out as having been of the highest status in life, and through wearing a cross, among the earliest Anglo-Saxon converts to Christianity. Norfolk Museums Services are raising money to acquire this nationally-significant find for its collection at Norwich Castle Museum.

Notes to Editors

The PAS is a partnership project, managed by the British Museum working with at least 119 national and local partners to deliver the Scheme's aims. It is funded through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport grant to the British Museum with local partner contributions. All the Finds Liaison Officers working for the PAS are employed locally, but work as a national team.

Thousands of archaeological objects are discovered every year, many by members of the public, particularly by people while metal-detecting. If recorded, these finds have great potential to transform archaeological knowledge, helping archaeologists understand when, where and how people lived in the past. PAS ( offers the only proactive mechanism for recording such finds, which are made publicly available on its online database.

The PAS has also benefited from Internships funded by the Headley Trust, providing opportunities for people to develop a career in archaeology. Also, the Graham and Joanna Barker Fund, which has enabled extra support for the PAS in areas where resources are low. The PAS welcomes anyone interested in supporting its work locally to contact the British Museum.

As part of the HLF funded project PASt Explorers: finds recording in the local community, the PAS is working with volunteers across the country to record archaeological finds made by the public and to get people involved in archaeology. In 2016, 202 volunteers, including 102 metal-detectorists who record their own finds on the PAS database, have contributed to the work of the Scheme.

Many organizations have also supported the acquisition of Treasure finds, including Art Fund, the Headley Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund. Without these, as well as public donations, many important archaeological finds would not be in public collections.

The Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales has been endorsed by: Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum of Wales / PAS Cymru , the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers, the British Museum / Portable Antiquities Scheme, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, the Country Land & Business Association, the Institute for Archaeology (University College London), Historic England, the National Farmers' Union, the Royal Commission on the Historical & Ancient Monuments of Wales, and the Society of Museum Archaeologists.

PASt Explorers Conference 2017: Telling Tales

Published: 2 years ago Author:

One database; thousands of stories.

Objects have the potential to excite and inspire us. They are a direct link to our past. Over 1.2 million objects have been recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. Within these objects are hundreds, possibly thousands, of stories from our past.

The PASt Explorers Project Conference 2017 will celebrate and share some of these stories, from tales of discovery to the ways in which PAS data is being used to unlock our shared history.

Stories will be told through PAS volunteers.

We are pleased to announce that booking is now open!The conference this year is being hosted at National Museum Cardiff on Saturday 18thNovember and will feature object stories told through PAS volunteers.

Admission is free, but booking is essential. Tea and coffee will be provided.

Please visit book.

Portable Antiquities Scheme Conference 2017: 20 Years of Treasure

Published: 2 years ago Author:

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the commencement of the Treasure Act 1996 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In this time over 11,000 Treasure finds have been reported under the Act, presenting local museums with an opportunity to acquire important objects from all periods of British history. Treasure objects not acquired by museums have a permanent record on the Portable Antiquities Scheme online database.

This conference will consider Treasure now, and look at what has been learnt in the past 20 years. There will be particular focus on discovery, acquisition and interpretation with relevant case-studies. The conference will also look forward, considering the potential of Treasure in the years to come.

Speakers include:

  • Ian Richardson, Treasure Registrar, Portable Antiquities Scheme

  • Anna Booth, Finds Liaison Officer, Portable Antiquities Scheme

  • Penny Bull, Senior Programmes Manager, Art Fund

  • Andrew Woods, Curator of Numismatics, York Museums Trust

  • Natalie Buy, Curator of Archaeology, York Museums Trust

  • Tim Pestell, Curator of Archaeology, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

  • Mike Heyworth, Director, Council for British Archaeology

Full programme to follow.

Tickets are free but booking is essential. To book your place, please go to:

Lat: 53.9619 Long: -1.08748

Frome Hoard declared the nation’s favourite Treasure find

Published: 2 years ago Author:

The Frome Hoard has been declared the nation's favourite Treasure find following a vote by readers of the Telegraph. The poll was undertaken to mark the 20th anniversary of the Treasure Act law that was implemented in 1997. A list of the top 20 finds was developed by a panel and was then put to the vote:

The Frome Hoard of over 52,000 coins is now housed in the Museum of Somerset. The Roman hoard was discovered in 2010 by metal detectorist Dave Crisp. All Treasure finds on the list are available to see at local museums across the country.

The British Museum has a central role in administering finds reported under the Treasure Act.

On 24th September 1997 the common law of treasure trove, in place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for more than 500 years, was replaced by the Treasure Act 1996. This marked a change for the fortune of artefacts found in these countries, allowing thousands of important finds to be acquired by public collections for all to enjoy.

The Frome Hoard

In 2010 Dave Crisp found the hoard dating to the 3rd century AD while metal-detecting near Frome, and reported the find to his local Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Initially Mr Crisp found 21 coins, but when he came across a pot filled with more he knew he needed archaeological help to excavate them. It is the largest Roman coin hoard to have been found in a single container with 52,503 coins. The excavation, led by Alan Graham, lifted the coins in layers which has enabled us to determine that the hoard was buried in a single act.

The coins comes from a time of political turmoil in the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD. The hoard was possibly hidden due to a time of instability in Britain when Carausius, a military commander of the Roman Empire, revolted and declared himself ruler of an independent Britain and Gaul. Carausius held power for seven years before being assassinated by his finance minister Allectus who then seized power and ruled over Britain and Gaul. However, there is increasingly strong evidence that the hoard represented a ritual offering to the gods, made by an ancient water course near a spring.

The coins span 40 years from around AD 250 to 290 and the great majority are of the denomination known as 'radiates', made of debased silver or bronze. Over 25 rulers are represented in the hoard, including several from a breakaway 'Gallic' Empire. One of the most important aspects of the hoard is that it contains a large number of coins of Carausius, who ruled Britain independently from AD 286 to AD 293 and was the first Roman emperor to strike coins in Britain. The hoard contains over 850 of his coins, making it the largest group of his coins to survive from a hoard. Amongst these coins are five rare examples of his silver denarii, the only coins of their type being struck anywhere in the Roman Empire at the time.

The entire hoard includes coins minted by 23 emperors and three emperors' wives. Other rulers featured include Valerian (AD 253-60) who died in captivity in Persia, Aurelian (AD 270-5) who quashed Zenobia's revolt at Palmyra, and Diocletian (AD 284-305) who carried out major reforms of the Empire, securing its future for another century or so.

Michael Lewis, Head of Portable Antiquities & Treasure, the British Museum, said, 'It is fantastic news that the public have voted for their favourite Treasure find and that the winner is the Frome Hoard. The hoard itself is so important because the coins in it were deposited in a container over time, not in a single event, and this transformed archaeologists thinking about why some Roman coin hoards were buried. The hoard was acquired by Somerset Museums and ensured that this important find can be displayed for local people to learn about and enjoy. The finder of the Frome Hoard, Dave Crisp acted impeccably at the time of its discovery. Realising the find was important he stopped digging and called his local Finds Liaison Officer for archaeological help which ensured the find was properly excavated, and the immediate context of the hoard properly understood. Although the Frome Hoard was the winner of the public vote, all the finds in the top 20 are to be celebrated in their own right. It is truly remarkable that these finds, most found by everyday people, are transforming our understanding of Britain's past, and all 20 are in museums across England and Wales for the public to see and experience'.

Notes to editors

For more information, news and events celebrating Treasure 20 throughout 2017 see the webpage:

Follow updates and join in the conversations on Treasure 20 via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #Treasure20 and follow the Museum @britishmuseum

For more Treasure20 content, follow the British Museum blog at

Deciding the top 20

The Telegraph newspaper launched the campaign to begin the celebrations of the initiation of the Treasure act by inviting readers to choose their favourite Treasure find of the last 20 years, from a short list of 20 compiled by a panel of expert judges, consisting of:

Michael Lewis - Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum

Mary-Ann Ochota - Anthropologist, author and broadcaster

Steve Trow - Director of Research for Historic England

Mike Heyworth - Chairman of the Council for British Archaeology

Edward Besly - Numismatist and Assistant Keeper at National Museum Wales

Tim Pestell - Curator of Archaeology collections at Norwich Castle Museum

Keith Miller - Journalist for the Daily Telegraph

The judges discussed the virtues of a host of Treasure finds, but after much debate eventually selected the final twenty, based on the following criteria:

1.The find should advance archaeological knowledge, whether that be of a particular period of time or for the locality in which it was found.

2.The find should have been recovered in a way that is an example of best practice. See the Code of Practice for responsible detecting for more information.

3.The find should add value to the national collection, whether that be of a national or local museum.

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