News from the Scheme

Staffordshire hoard purchased after successful fundraising campaign

Published: Tuesday 23rd March 2010 Author:

The Art Fund is delighted to announce that the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest archaeological Anglo-Saxon find ever unearthed, has been saved for the nation. The news comes after the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), the government's fund of last resort for heritage items at risk, pledged £1,285,000 - bringing the campaign to the £3.3m target, just over three weeks ahead of schedule.

Thanks to the support of the public, trusts and foundations, and the generous £1,285,000 NHMF grant, the awe-inspiring find has now been safely secured for Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. On 13 January 2010 The Art Fund launched the campaign to save the Staffordshire Hoard on behalf of both acquiring museums with a £300,000 grant and with generous pledges of £100,000 each from Birmingham and Stoke City Councils.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of The Art Fund, said:

"We have been absolutely bowled over by the enthusiasm and fascination the Staffordshire Hoard has sparked amongst the British public, as well as visitors from abroad. It is wonderful news that the NHMF has enabled the target of £3.3m to be reached ahead of the deadline, and I hope that this will give the West Midlands a head-start with the next stage in fundraising for the conservation, research and display of the treasure."

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of NHMF, said:

"We're delighted to be able to announce this news today. The Staffordshire Hoard is an extraordinary heritage treasure. It is exactly the sort of thing the National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up to save, stepping in as the 'fund of last resort' when our national heritage is at risk, as a fitting memorial to those who have given their lives in the service of our nation. We're delighted, in our 30th anniversary year, to be able to make sure it stays just where it belongs, providing rare insights into one of the more mysterious periods of our history."

Eminent historian and broadcaster Dr David Starkey helped launch the campaign on 13 January, giving an illuminating speech on the value of the Hoard and coining the term "gangland bling" to describe its dazzling beauty and links to bloody warfare.
Today David Starkey commented:

"This is wonderful news for historians worldwide - the Staffordshire Hoard provides us with vital clues to our ancient past, and now we can set about decoding them. We're delighted that The Art Fund, the NHMF, all other funding bodies and the generous public have helped us save these breathtaking treasures for posterity. It's now vital that we think ahead towards a future conservation of the Hoard, and displays that will match the excitement of the find."

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure Sport and Culture for Birmingham City Council said: 

"It is great achievement to secure the hoard for the West Midlands Region. Not only have we managed to raise the necessary £3.3 million to return the hoard to its rightful home a month ahead of schedule but a staggering £900,000 of this has been raised by personal donations. I have been overwhelmed by the public response and can't thank enough everyone who has given and supported our campaign in helping us bringing the Hoard home."

Councillor Hazel Lyth, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said:

"This grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund is the cherry on the cake of an extraordinary fundraising campaign which has highlighted how proud and determined the local community have been to keep the Staffordshire Hoard in the region. But this is great news for the whole country; we can now begin to unlock the secrets held within this amazing collection."

Since the launch of the campaign, over £900,000 has been raised through public donations. Over 100,000 people have visited the Staffordshire Hoard displays in Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham and the British Museum. Donations from members of the public have ranged from £1 to £100,000, and have come in from as far afield as the USA and Japan. In addition to public support, the campaign has received substantial donations from trusts and foundations.

However, The Art Fund emphasised today that there is still more work to be done. A further £1.7m must be found so that the Hoard can be properly conserved, studied and displayed. Plans for the future conservation and interpretation of the Hoard include the creation of a "Mercian Trail" which would highlight the fascinating history of Mercia, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom which covered the West Midlands area. The Hoard was found in July 2009 in a field near Lichfield, which already contains two other Anglo-Saxon treasures: the illuminated St Chad Gospels, and a stone angel. Watling Street, the famous Roman road now known as the A5, runs close by to where the Hoard lay buried for thousands of years.

Experts believe that the 1,500 pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold contain many secrets about the "Dark Ages", and there has already been much debate about the exact date at which it was buried. The Hoard also shifts the focus of Anglo-Saxon history from East to West. Previously, the most important treasure from the period was the Sutton Hoo burial ship, uncovered in Suffolk in 1939. Whilst experts believed that there would be immense wealth in Mercia, they had never found sufficient concrete evidence, until now. It could take decades to unlock all the secrets.

The further £1.7m will also facilitate the future loan of items from the Hoard to key historic venues such as Tamworth Castle and Lichfield Cathedral - both important Mercian sites.

The Staffordshire Hoard contains over 1,500 finely crafted objects, mostly gold and some inlaid with precious stones. It was unearthed in July 2009 by a metal detectorist in a field near Lichfield, and was declared Treasure on 24 September 2009. The two West Midlands museums jointly bid to acquire the Hoard on 25 November and were given until 17 April 2010 to secure it.

Exhibitions of the Hoard in Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham and the British Museum have drawn visitors from near and far. One enthusiast from South Carolina travelled 3,000 miles to see the displays at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, whilst a 101 year-old antiques fan from Barlaston was recorded as the oldest person to visit the same exhibition. The Art Fund also received a touching letter from one nine-year-old girl from Devon, who pledged £10 from her own piggy bank to help "save the treasure", and organised a special visit for her to see the Hoard displays.

The campaign has also attracted the support of various celebrities along the way, including Dame Judi Dench, Tony Robinson, Frank Skinner, Bill Wyman, Dr Tristram Hunt, and Michael Palin. The leaders of all three political parties have endorsed the campaign, alongside Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Minister for Culture and Tourism.

All donations received after Wednesday will be directed to the £1.7m campaign for conservation and research. The public can continue to donate to the wider campaign via www.artfund.org/hoard.

Pledges can also be made by telephone on 0844 415 4004. Cheques can be sent to The Art Fund, Freepost LON 17186, PO BOX 2003, Kirkcaldy, KY2 6BR.


 

The Staffordshire Hoard

The treasure was discovered in a field in the West Midlands in July last year by metal detectorist Terry Herbert The find was reported to Duncan Slarke, Finds Liaison Officer of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), who contacted Roger Bland, Head of the PAS and Kevin Leahy, National Finds Adviser. Birmingham Archaeology carried out the excavation, funded by English Heritage, and this was completed within a month. The Hoard was sent to the Coroner of South Staffordshire and declared treasure on 24 September 2009. On 25 November 2009 the Treasure Valuation Committee reached its valuation of £3.3 million, and the museums interested in acquiring the Hoard were asked to confirm their intentions. The TVC then generated an 'invoice' to the museums, giving four months from this date for the money to be raised. This gave the 17 April deadline. The Hoard comprises over 1,500 items made of gold, silver and precious stones, and dates back to the 7th Century. Mostly military in nature, it is by far the largest find of Anglo-Saxon gold ever recorded, with over 5kg of gold and 1.3kg of silver. The Hoard promises to transform our understanding of the lives of the Anglo-Saxon people, and the role the region of Mercia played in history

Plans for the future of the Hoard

Having successfully raised the £3.3m needed to acquire the Hoard the campaign now turns to raising a further £1.7m to ensure that vital conservation and research work can take place on the 1,500 items that make up the Hoard - and above all, ensure it is appropriately displayed and interpreted for all to enjoy across the 'Mercian Trail' venues.

Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery are working with Lichfield, Tamworth and Staffordshire Councils to create a 'Mercian Trail' across the Midlands region - that will bring the story of the hoard to life through displays and other media.

The Trail will develop the historical themes associated with the Hoard and promote understanding of the history and archaeology of the Mercian area. In doing this it will support the key regional priorities around learning and education, and stimulate the local economy.

Breakdown of funding

The £3.3 million was raised as follows:

  • £1,285,000 from the NHMF
  • £900,000 from public donations
  • £600,000 from trusts and foundations
  • £300,000 from The Art Fund
  • £100,000 from Birmingham City Council
  • £100,000 from the City of Stoke-on-Trent Council 
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First Prosecution under the Treasure Act

Published: Monday 1st March 2010 Author:

It has been widely reported that Kate Harding from Ludlow has been the first person prosecuted under the Treasure Act 1996. This note provides clarification on a number of points that have either been omitted from the media reports, or have been incorrectly reported.

  • It has been reported that Harding failed to report a silver coin. In fact the find was a piedfort of Charles IV of France. Piedforts look similar to coins, but experts agree they were not used as currency; therefore they are classed as artefacts and thus single finds of piedforts qualify as Treasure provided they are made of at least 10% of gold or silver. Two single finds of silver piedforts from Surrey and Staffordshire have been declared Treasure and acquired by the British Museum in 2007 (Portable Antiquities & Treasure Report 2007, cat. 285) and 2008 (2008 T388).
  • It has been reported that Harding found the coin as she worked in the garden with her mother at their home in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire. She originally told the Finds Liaison Officer that she found it in 2008 in her garden in Ludlow, Shropshire.
  • It has been reported that the authorities have been heavy handed on Harding. Harding was repeatedly informed of her legal obligations to report the silver piedfort under the Treasure Act 1996, but failed to do so, so the case was brought to the attention of the local Coroner.
  • The Police investigated the case at the request of the Coroner and passed the file to the Crown Prosecution Service, which took the decision to prosecute. Harding told the Police she had lost the find, but produced it during sentencing.
  • Harding pleaded guilty on 17 February 2010 to failing to report an item which she believed or had reasonable grounds for believing is Treasure (Section 8 of the Treasure Act 1996).
  • In due course there will be a Coroner's Inquest to determine the exact circumstances of discovery and whether or not the object is Treasure.

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Art and Artefacts exhibition

Published: Friday 9th May 2008 Author:

Art and Artefacts - Saturday 3rd May until Sunday 1st June

Alan Cracknell, local Winchester artist, produces detailed, intricate and intensely coloured paintings inspired by his interest in the natural world, history and archaeology. Reminiscent of medieval manuscript illumination, the paintings often incorporate text, names of ancient lanes or fields, or precious objects excavated from the earth.

This exhibition combines his latest work with a display of objects brought into Winchester Museums by members of the public for identification and recording under the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Many of these items, from across Hampshire, have never been exhibited in public before.

Alan said:

I am delighted to have this opportunity to exhibit in City Space and to display my paintings together with the drawings I produce for the PAS alongside the objects featured in the exhibition.

Since 1999 the Portable Antiquities Scheme has been helping us understand Hampshire's past better by recording over 14,500 objects found by members of the public. Its representative in the county, Finds Liaison Officer Rob Webley, said:

I'm excited that people can get to see up close some of the amazing artefacts I'm lucky enough to record. Seeing them on our website is one thing, but don't miss this opportunity to admire the craftsmanship first hand.

As part of the scheme Alan also produces detailed drawings that record these objects in far greater clarity than a photograph ever could. These drawings, together with his paintings and the fascinating objects on display, provide visitors with a unique insight into how an artist working today is influenced by artefacts from the past.

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Carr Manor Archaeology Project Press Release

Published: Wednesday 2nd May 2007 Author: Cei Paynton

The PAS, Leeds Metropolitan University Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education, West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service, Education Leeds, Leeds Museums and Galleries and Royal Armouries are all working together in a ground-breaking school archaeology project next week!

The project, which involves students from Headingley Campus, specialists and hundreds of school children and will be is at Carr Manor Primary School on the 8th, 9th and 10th May 2007. Children will work in trenches in the school grounds with hand-held GPS and metal detectors. Re-enactors and Royal Armouries education specialists will also be on hand and there will also be a community field walking exercise involving parents of pupils at Carr Manor Primary School and Meanwood Church of England Primary School.

This project seeks to promote excellence and enjoyment through providing a very rich learning environment in which children can begin to reconstruct the past. It provides a very high quality training experience which encourages students to develop professionally and personally towards qualified teacher status.

The project is to be filmed by National Teacher's TV and has been described by Ofsted as 'outstanding'.

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Portable Antiquities Scheme finders win recognition at Dorset Archaeological Awards.

Published: Wednesday 2nd May 2007 Author: CAHT

Three amateur archaeologists and metal detector users have been placed second in the Dorset Archaeological Awards. The awards are made by the Dorset Archaeological Committee to give recognition to a wide range of projects and individuals in the county. First prize (the Cecil Colyer bowl) was awarded to Christopher Dalton for his three volume publication The Bells And Belfries Of Dorset.

The runner-up place was awarded to John and Verena Harper, together with Denise Parsons, who have been searching land at Compton Abbas for many years. Through metal detecting and surface collection they have retrieved flint, pottery, coins and metalwork dating from the Mesolithic (around 8300 BC) through virtually all periods and into to the 20th century. They have recorded their finds through the local Finds Liaison Officers (Dr Naomi Payne and Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen) and have generated 146 records on Portable Antiquities Scheme database so far. They have a keen desire to discover more about their local area, to record what they unearth and to share the information with others.

Dr Bill Putnam, chair of the judging panel, outlined all the nominations for the award and explained what a difficult task the judging panel had had due to the generally high standard of the entries.

The awards were presented by HRH the Duke of Gloucester in a ceremony held at Sherborne Castle on Friday 27th May. The Duke was impressed by the range of projects represented in the eight nominations.

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Rare new acquisitions on display

Published: Wednesday 29th November 2006 Author: Peter Reavill

Shrewsbury Museums Service is delighted to be able to display for the first time some internationally important archaeological finds from Shropshire.

A pair of spoons, dating to the Iron Age (800 BC - 100 AD) were found by local metal detectorist, Mr. Trevor Brown, in mid Shropshire during 2005. They are extremely rare and only twenty-three others of this type are known in the world!

These are the first spoons of this type to be found for eighty years. The spoons are always found in pairs but no-one is sure what they were used for. It has been suggested that they have a ritual or divinatory purpose but the truth may be more prosaic. They remain evocative and enigmatic items.

The spoons were reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme and purchased for the museums via the Treasure Act, with assistance from The Friends of Shrewsbury's Museums.

Since Peter Reavill started work as Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) for Shropshire and Herefordshire, in 2003, the museum identification service and the Portable Antiquities Scheme have worked closely together. Peter runs finds identification afternoons in the museum and has recorded hundreds of Shropshire finds. He also acts as the main contact point for members of the public who find items that come under the Treasure Act.

The spoons are on display at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery until 22nd December, alongside other recent purchases, donations and loans of archaeological finds, dating from the Iron Age to the 17th century.

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Herefordshire Archaeological Symposium

Published: Monday 22nd March 2010 Author:

Presents
ARCHAEOLOGY IN PROFILE
A NINTH SYMPOSIUM ON
ARCHAEOLOGY IN HEREFORDSHIRE
At the Courtyard Theatre, Hereford
On Saturday 21st October 2006

Programme
Morning session: Chair: Andrew Ashcroft
9.30 Introduction and welcome
9.35 Tim Hoverd Archaeology in Herefordshire in 2006: an overview
10.00 Peter Dorling The Lugg Valley Project
10.45 Discussion
11.00 Break
11.30 Chris Atkinson The Garway Common Project
12.00 Julian Cotton Recent investigations at Kilpeck Castle
12.30 Discussion
12.40 Lunch break
Afternoon session: Chair: Dr. Neil Rimmington
14.00 Peter Dorling Neolithic sites in the Lugg Valley
14.45 Peter Reavill Bronze Age Finds from Herefordshire
15.20 Break
15.50 Dale Rouse Excavations on the Asda site, Hereford.
16.20 Dr. Nigel Baker Ross-on-Wye: The urban archaeology of a market town

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EBay announcement

Published: Monday 22nd March 2010 Author:

BMpuk.jpgMLA logoeBay logo

The British Museum and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) have partnered with eBay.co.uk to ensure that antiquities found in the UK are being sold legally on its site.

In order to prevent illegal sales of treasure, the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS, which is managed by the British Museum on behalf of the MLA) has set up a team to monitor antiquities sold on eBay.co.uk and to ensure that sellers have the right to trade them. Where the listing is illegal, PAS will report it to the Art and Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police and eBay.co.uk, which has committed to end illegal listings.The commitment is the latest development in eBay's on-going work with national law enforcement agencies.

eBay.co.uk is the first website to reach an agreement with the British Museum and the MLA banning the illegal sale of treasure over its trading platform,

English, Welsh and Northern Irish archaeological finds which constitute 'treasure' must be reported to the relevant authorities under the Treasure Act. Failing to report a find of treasure is a criminal offence.

In many cases, sellers innocently trade items on the web, unaware that finds need to be reported under the provisions of the Treasure Act. eBay has therefore also worked with the British Museum and PAS to create a guide to buying and selling antiquities safely on its site with advice about reporting obligations. The guide is to be found at http://pages.ebay.co.uk/buy/guides/antiquities

Dr Roger Bland, head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum said:

"We welcome eBay's assistance in helping stop the illegal sale of antiquities on the internet with this partnership. Our experience is that most people who buy and sell UK archaeological finds do so without being aware that they may be breaking the law if items have not been reported. We have therefore worked with eBay to ensure that its users are aware of its obligations through our guide. We will also be contacting sellers to ensure that they have reported items and have appropriate documentation."

Chris Batt, MLA Chief Executive added:

"For those who are selling items illegally, this partnership means we have in place a process to stop listings and take action against the individuals concerned. Doing so is vital because such activity is not only illegal but could also damage the archaeological record as, without effective reporting, valuable insights into our past could be lost forever."

David Lammy, Culture Minister comments

"eBay is one of this century's greatest success stories. A truly global phenomenon. But like us, they recognise that the expanding internet trade in art, antiquities and antiques has potential for abuse, and it is important that steps are taken to ensure that it does not unwittingly become a cover for criminality. I commend eBay for taking such a responsible stance."

Garreth Griffith, head of Trust and Safety at eBay.co.uk, comments:

"Educating our customers on what to look out for when buying antiquities on eBay and informing sellers of their obligations is of paramount importance. Giving our customers the knowledge and engaging that knowledge to help with our investigations work means we have 15 million pairs of eyes and ears out there working with us on a day-to-day basis.

Working with British Museum and PAS and harnessing the strength of our community of buyers and sellers means we have an extensive network to ensure that antiquities are sold legitimately. It is also an excellent example of the way that eBay can work with law enforcement to track people seeking the break the law and bring them to account."

DS Vernon Rapley, head of the Met Police Art & Antiques unit said:

"This is a really good example of the art market and those concerned in the preservation of antiquities working together to help prevent and detect cultural property crimes. We are fully supportive of the initiative and hope that it has a real impact on preventing illicit sales."

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Thornborough Henges Report

Published: Monday 2nd October 2006 Author:

Download the Thornborough Henges Rally report

Over at the British Archaeological Jobs Resouce site (http://www.bajr.org/), a document has been produced as an independent report on the recent metal detecting rally on the land around Thornborough's Henges (not on the protected area). The Henges have been at the centre of a large legal battle revolving around Tarmac's desire to quarry the area. More information on this can be found at Timewatch's website.

Described by English Heritage as the most important ancient site between Stonehenge and the Orkneys

David Connolly volunteered to help the two local FLOs (Simon Holmes and David Evans) record objects and to aid him with his understanding of the (possibly) polarised views of archaeologists and metal detectorists. This has been subjected to some critical discussion on various fora and mailing lists, and I think we have to promulgate this piece of work for others to read. This version has been rewritten by David if you notice any changes.

To summarise, 215 records were created with 46 new finders recording with the Scheme. The details of these objects will appear on our database when the FLOs have entered their details.

Events for Family Learning Week 2006

Published: Wednesday 20th September 2006 Author:

London

Ceinwen Paynton & Waltham Forest (held at the Vestry Museum)
Sat 30th September real finds
Sat 7th October fun and games- PASt explorers
Sat 14th October come and get arty!
A family-friendly environment with free food!

Berkshire and Oxfordshire

Kate Sutton Finds session Sat 14th Oct Thame Museum

Essex

Caroline McDonald: YAC activity, monthly from Sept

North Lincolnshire

Kevin Leahy: academic year 2006-7,Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Archaeology, Hull University
Kevin Leahy: academic year 2006-7,Material Culture, Hull University
Kevin Leahy: academic year 2006-7,Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms of the Humber, Hull University
Lisa Staves: Cross-curricular work from Sept based around Humber Banks sites

West Midlands

Caroline Johnson: Wed 11th Oct, group of adults at the education centre in Radio Stoke

NATIONAL

Geoff Egan: student placement ongoing
Fiona Cameron from UCL - study of C17th glass-bead making waste, (continuing project)

Cambridgeshire

Philippa Walton: Finds Day, 7 October, 10-12 Willingham Library

91 - 100 of 255 records.

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