News from the Scheme

Our Treasured Past - Exhibition - Croydon

Published: 19 years ago Author:

Our Treasured Past
An exhibition of archaeological discoveries made by;metal detectorists in the South East.
There will be various displays including, the Portable Antiquities Scheme, archaeological societies,;metal detector finds displays, antique bottle displays, and much more...
If you have any archaeological finds you would like identified or recorded Finds Liaison Officers from Hampshire, Kent and Surrey will be on hand to help.
All are welcome
Trinity School, Shirley Park, Croydon (parking available)
Saturday 12th April 2003 10am until 5pm
Admission: Adults £1, Children 50p
All profits go to Phab, a Croydon based national charity

New Finds Liaison Assistant for Somerset and Dorset

Published: 19 years ago Author:

From the 15th October 2002 the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Somerset and Dorset will have an additional member of staff. Elaine Howard-Jones will be joining us as Finds Liaison Assistant for three days each week. The post will initially assist in providing maternity cover for the Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen (Finds Liaison Officer) until her return to work in May 2003. After this the post will continue, providing support in all aspects of the Scheme across both counties. Both posts will be funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund from April 2003 (in partnership with Dorset and Somerset County Councils) following the successful bid for the Scheme to operate across England and Wales. The post is a vital addition to the Scheme and will enable expansion and development of the service provided. 

Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen (left) and Elaine Howard-Jones (right) pictured with the Portable Antiquities display at the Somerset County Museum, Taunton.

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Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill

Published: 19 years ago Author:

The ‘Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill’ – a private members Bill introduced by Richard Allan – passed through committee stage (without amendments), and will now be debated in the House of Commons for its third reading on 13th June 2003.

The Bill provides ‘for an offence of acquiring, disposing of, importing or exporting tainted cultural objects, or agreeing or arranging to do so; and for connected purposes’. The Bill allows for a person guilty of the offence to be imprisoned for up to seven years.

In the debate Mr Allan (Lib Dem: Sheffield, Hallam) stated that ‘there has been some debate about whether the Bill is aimed at people who use metal detectors, but that is certainly not the case. Metal detecting is a legitimate activity provided that the permission of the landowner has been sought. It should not take place on scheduled ancient monuments. If, as happened recently at Yeavering Bell in Northumbria, detectorists from the wrong side of town, commonly known as nighthawks, deliberately metal detect on sites of ancient monuments…and try to sell what they find, anyone who buys it will be caught under the Bill’.

On news of the Bill, Trevor Austin (General Secretary of the National Council of Metal Detecting) said that ‘it is our opinion in the National Council of Metal Detecting that responsible metal detector users have nothing to fear from this Bill whatsoever’.

The Bill will now be debated in the House of Commons for its third reading before being passed to the House of Lords.


A full text of the Bill can be seen here >>

The debate is posted here>>

First Prehistoric Base-metal Hoard Reported as Potential Treasure

Published: 19 years ago Author:

On 1st January 2003 the Treasure (Designation) Order 2002 added to the definition of Treasure (see Treasure Act 1996) prehistoric base-metal assemblages.

Twelve days later David Button discovered - what was to become - the first group of objects to be reported under these revisons to the Act, whilst metal detecting on farmland near Hollingbourne in Kent. In fact David had recovered a length of copper alloy blade, and then, about 12m away, a large socketed axehead, also of copper alloy. Both were clearly of Bronze Age date. Realising that the blade and axehead were possibly part of a dispersed hoard, and therefore could constitute treasure, David telephoned Andrew Richardson, the Finds Liaison Officer for Kent.

It was agreed to meet at the site the following Wednesday afternoon, along with the farmer, Michael Summerfield. The positions of the two findspots were located and marked and a sweep of the area around these was made by metal detector. Further signals were immediately noted, and these were plotted and then dug. This resulted in the finding of a further eleven Bronze Age artefacts, consisting of four socketed axeheads, four lengths of double-edged blade, two 'ingots' of unworked metal and part of one sword or dagger handle. All the objects were of copper alloy, and all were incomplete, the axeheads having either the end of the blade or the end of the socket broken off in antiquity. The finds were deposited in the British Museum the following day, and it was confirmed that this hoard represented the first find in the country to fall within the scope of the extended Treasure Act.

Part of the Hollinborne Hoard

Part of the Hollinbourne Hoard

A further sweep of the area some days later resulted in the finding of one further ingot and part of a sword handle, bringing the total number of artefacts recovered to fifteen.  These were all found within the ploughsoil. The finds were distributed across a roughly crescent-shaped area about 15m by 10m across, and clearly represented a hoard that had been dispersed by the action of the plough.

Given the possibility that further artefacts might remain to be recovered, and in the hope that part of the hoard might remain in situ, an excavation of the findspot was organised.  This took place on the weekend of 1st to 2nd March, and was led by Andrew Richardson and Simon Mason (of Kent County Council Heritage Conservation).  Stuart Cakebread (Sites and Monuments Officer), along with volunteers from Kent County Council, Maidstone Area Archaeological Group, the North Downs Young Archaeologists Club, the Lenham Archaeological Society and Giles Guthrie (Curator of Maidstone Museum). The Finder, David Button, also took part, along with fellow detectorist, Terry Bodily.  The excavation was filmed by the BBC as part of their forthcoming new series Hidden Treasures, which is due to air in September.

An area 4m by 4m (Trench 1) was excavated by hand in the centre of the zone where most of the finds had been made, but no further artefacts were recovered from this trench, and no features were noted. A test hole that was sunk to confirm the depth of the ploughsoil did however reveal a small gully, and this hole was therefore enlarged to investigate this (Trench 2). Sweeps across the general area by the four metal detectorists present (David Button and Terry Bodily, and Gill Davies and Lesley Feakes of the Lenham Archaeological Society) revealed only a few finds, notably a silver coin of Elizabeth I in very good condition, but no further Bronze Age artefacts were found until about 3pm on Saturday 1st, when Gill Davies located a socketed axehead downhill from the scatter found previously.  Four further finds were then located in a very concentrated area, and more signals were noted.  It seemed probable that the source of the hoard, or indeed a second hoard, had been located, and the following day a trench (Trench 4) was opened around the area of these finds.  In addition, an area adjacent to Trench 1 was opened in the hope that more material might be recovered from this (Trench 3).  In the event, no further Bronze Age artefacts where recovered from the area of trenches 1 and 3, but the articulated burial of a small horse, associated with prehistoric pot sherds and an iron object, was located.  Trench 4, however, revealed three ingots and an axehead which had been disturbed by ploughing, distributed around an in situ group of metal work.  The latter consisted of three socketed axeheads, all placed vertically, blade downwards, with a complex of ingots, spearheads and a blade wedged in between them. 

The 'second' hoard in situ

These were recorded and photographed before lifting, and the soil from the small pit that they were placed in was collected and bagged for later analysis. It was not until about 8pm on the Sunday night  that the hoard was eventually lifted, and the excavation could not have continued without the assistance of local man Mr Gordon Reeves, who kindly provided lights and a generator.

The Floodlit Excavation

A total of thirty five late Bronze Age metal artefacts have now been recovered from the site, comprising twelve axeheads or parts of axeheads, six lengths of blade, two spearheads, two sword/dagger handles and thirteen ingots.  The finds date to the very end of the Bronze Age, circa 920-800 BC. It is hoped that further fieldwork on the site will be carried out in the near future, and it is expected that the finds will eventually be acquired by Maidstone Museum under the Treasure Act.

The credit for the discovery of this important find lies with David Button, whose decision to call for archaeological assistance after making the initial finds allowed the recovery of the in situ material, and the accurate plotting of all the find spots. This was a great example of the benefits to be gained by all from co-operation between metal-detector users and archaeologists, and shows the value of the Portable Antiquities Scheme in fostering this co-operation. The excavation was also an exemplary piece of community archaeology, with individuals from several different groups giving up their time and working together for the benefit of Kent's heritage.

Substantially based on an article wrritten by Andrew Richardson, FLO, Kent 

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First Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeological Group Published

Published: 19 years ago Author:

On Tuesday 28th January 2003 the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeological Group delivered its first report on the current state of archaeology in the United Kingdom, of which a whole chapter was dedicated to Portable Antiquities.

In the report a total of 48 recommendations were identified as having current priority. Ten of these were selected as key recommendations, of which one is:

'The Government should give long-term support to the network of Finds Liaison Officers which is to be established across the whole of England and Wales next year under the Portable Antiquities Scheme, since the current lottery funding will end in April 2006. Such a development needs to be seen in the context of both regional and local museums as well as inputs to SMRs.The Government should also provide resources to provide analogous schemes in Scotland and Northern Ireland, adapted to local conditions'.  

Other recommendations on Portable Antiquities were:

'The Government should ensure that the British Museum and other bodies should be fully funded for the additional burdens placed by the Treasure Act'. 'Resources should be provided from the HLF and the V&A/Resource Purchase Grant Fund for treasure finds and greater help for small museums on how to apply for funding and an urgent review of museum collecting areas. A similarly funded system is needed to provide rewards for Treasure Trove finds in Scotland and Northern Ireland'.

The All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group (APPAG) was set up in July 2001 to act as a focus for Parliamentary interest in all matters relating to archaeology in the United Kingdom. It currently has 137 members in both Houses of Parliament. APPAG represents all shades of political opinion and has no affiliation to any other special interest groups. The Report aims to reflect the concerns of all those with an interest in archaeology.

In 2001 APPAG appealed for written submissions on the current state of archaeology in the UK and received 267 responses from a wide range of organisations and individuals. In addition representatives from a number of key bodies were invited to answer questions arising from the submissions in a series of committee sessions in June, July and October 2002 (a full transcript is published on the APPAG website Finally evidence was taken from an open meeting on 7 December 2002, enabling archaeologists and other members of the public to add their views.

The full report, complete with all the appendices, is published on the Internet at and available from the Society of Antiquaries (£2.50).

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Liverpool Museum Lecture Series

Published: 19 years ago Author:

Wednesday 19 February
Finding Our Past: Treasure and Portable Antiquities
Nick Herepath
Portable Antiquities Officer
In 1996 the medieval law of Treasure Trove was replaced by the Treasure Act. The Act removed the worst anomalies of the old outdated law and introduced new definitions of what could be defined as a 'treasure' find. But what about the finds not classified as 'treasure'' In 1997 six areas of the England, including the North West, were chosen for a pilot study into the recording of these so-called 'portable antiquities'. Portable Antiquities Officers were appointed to record finds and to undertake outreach work to encourage finders, mostly metal detector users, to report their finds. The Portable Antiquities Scheme has now expanded to cover the whole of England and Wales until 2006.
The lecturer is an archaeologist who has been the Portable Antiquities Officer for the North West for five years. He will discuss the background to the Treasure reform, what is meant by 'treasure' under the new Act, the development and potential of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and the results of his own work in the North West.
Wednesday 19 March
The Celts, Henry VIII and the New Europe
Gary Brown
Assistant Curator of Antiquities
The Celts were an ancient people who inhabited much of Europe, including Britain, around the time of the Romans. Celtic art spread widely, and many of its finest achievements were produced in Britain. Many centuries later, Henry VIII portrayed himself surrounded by Celtic art. The Celtic language survives in Gaelic, Old Irish and Welsh. This lecture investigates the meaning of 'Celticness' in ancient times and to Henry VIII, its relevance today in debates about national identity, and considers whether it was in fact a pan-European culture.
Wednesday 23 April
Bones of Contention
Lynne Heidi Stumpe
Curator of Oceanic Collections
The skull of an Australian Aborigine called Yagan was repatriated to Australia in 1997 and Liverpool Museum is currently processing a request for the return of several New Zealand Maori preserved, tattooed heads. This lecture will take a brief look at requests for the return of human remains over the last twelve years and discuss some of the difficult issues surrounding them.
Wednesday 21 May
The World of the Maya
Tony Eccles
Assistant Curator of Ethnology
The descendants of the pyramid-building Maya still live in Mesoamerica, and have a thriving folklore tradition. The Maya people have been in dispute with the Mexican government and acts of violence on both sides have taken place. This lecture will briefly discuss the history of the Maya, accompanied by images of the Mayan collections in Liverpool Museum, and how the Maya of today have arrived at their current political and economic situation.
Wednesday 18 June
The Plight of Southern Africa's First Peoples
Zachary Kingdon
Curator of African Collections
The bushmen of southern Africa are the inheritors of a hunter/gatherer way of life that enabled them to live comfortably off the land without damaging the environment for thousands of years. Beautiful and complex rock art at hundreds of sites throughout southern Africa bears witness to their artistic skills and to the richness and complexity of their cultural life.
European colonisation and expansion into the Cape interior led to the extinction of most bushman groups and was characterised by extreme violence and brutality. The few communities that still maintain a hunter/gatherer way of life face a bleak future. Denied ownership rights to their ancestral lands and left with less and less game to hunt, they are forced into low-paid wage labour or to rot in 'reservations' with little to do but drink.
The lecturer has lived in South Africa, researching extinct southern bushmen, and leading many expeditions to record bushman rock paintings.

Wednesday 23 July
Tibet and China: historical relationships
Zara Fleming
Independent scholar specialising in Tibetan art and culture
For over a thousand years, Tibet developed a unique religion, philosophy and art. Tibetan people maintained their traditional nomadic lifestyle well into the twentieth century. However, in the 1950s, the country was gradually taken over by the Chinese and since 1964 its heartland has been forcibly incorporated into the People's Republic of China as the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Today the Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, and many others, still live in exile.
This talk will explore the historical relationship between Tibet and China. It will chart some of the contacts between the two countries over the past thousand years, briefly highlighting relations between various Tibetan Dalai Lamas and Chinese Emperors.
The focus will be on the twentieth century, with particular emphasis on the life and political aspirations of the thirteenth Dalai Lama.

Finds Day at Tenterden Library on Friday 28th March 2003

Published: 19 years ago Author:

Andrew Richardson (Finds Liaison Officer, Kent) will be attending Tenterden Library on Friday 28th March 2003 to identify and record archaeological objects found by members of the public. Andrew will be at the Library from 2pm until 4.30pm. All are welcome.
For further details please contact Andew on 01622 221544 or Email

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Treasure Act 1996 Extended to Include Deposits of Prehistoric Base Metal Finds

Published: 19 years ago Author:

From 1st January 2003 the Treasure Act will be extended to include all prehistoric base-metal objects from the same find. This means that finders will have a legal obligation to report such finds to a coroner within 14 days of their discovery (or realising they might constitute Treasure).

'The Treasure (Designation) Order 2002 added to the definition of Treasure prehistoric base-metal assemblages. These are groups (defined as one of at least two) of base-metal objects, other than coins, of prehistoric date, i.e. up to, and including, the Iron Age, from the same find. In this case, the 'same find' means closed groups of objects including scatters of contemporary metal types which may reasonably be interpreted as having originally been in a closed group. The most compelling criteria when judging a 'closed group' are (i) that there are known precedents for the closes association of the given artefact types, and (ii) that follow-up excavation or investigation locates the original context. If in any doubt, finders are advised to seek expert advice'.

The Treasure Act 1996 Code of Practice (Revised)

The revision of the Act will ensure that museums now have the opportunity to acquire important hoards of pre-historic material where hitherto finders had no legal obligation to even show them to museum professionals or an archaeologist.

Bronze Age axehead found as part of a hoard in Suffolk

A Bronze Age axehead found - as part of a hoard - in Suffolk. From 1st January 2003 finders of all prehistoric base-metal objects from the same find (two or more) will have a legal obligation to report these under the Treasure Act. 

What is the definition of Treasure?


All coins from the same find (two or more) provided they are at least 300 years old when found. If they contain less than 10% gold or silver there must be at least 10 of them.


All prehistoric base-metal objects from the same find (two or more). All finds (one or more) at least 300 years old and containing 10% or more gold or silver. Associated finds: any object, whatever it is made of, found in the same place as (or had previously been together with, another object that is treasure.

For more information or the full text of the Treasure Act 1997 logon to

What should I do if I find something that may be Treasure?

You must report all finds of Treasure to a coroner for the district in which they are found eitherwithin 14 days after the day on which you made the discovery or within 14 days after the day on which you realised the find might be treasure.

For details of your local coroner see the Treasure Act Code of Practice on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport website (go to 'historic environment' then 'treasure and portable antiquities' then click on 'The Treasure Act Code of Practice (revised).

A Late Bronze Age Hoard found east of Ipswich

Published: 19 years ago Author:

Following the recovery of part of a plough dispersed late Bronze Age hoard from a field east of Ipswich by Mr G. Cracknell in October, 2002, the landowner's estate manager agreed to provide a mechanical excavator to further investigate the find spot. This site investigation was carried out on 14th November by the Jon Newman (Archaeological Service, Suffolk County Council) assisted by Mr and Mrs G.Cracknell who were both equipped with metal-detectors. The initial finds from the hoard numbered some seven artefacts and fragments and these were recovered from an area of approximately 6 sq. m.
The area of the initial find having been marked by the finder, a wide, toothless, ditching bucket on the back-acter of the wheeled excavator (see picture below);was used to strip the plough soil over an area of about 2m x 2m in 100/150mm spits. Each spit was carefully searched with a metal-detector, as was the disturbed spoil. Two stray finds from the hoard were recovered from the initial spits removed from the find spot and a strong signal was noted near the centre of the investigation area. This strong signal was examined in more detail by hand and a copper alloy artefact was revealed near the base of the plough soil at a depth of about 300/350mm. More plough soil was therefore removed mechanically from around the in situ artefact before further hand investigation and intense detector cover confirmed that the point of deposit for the hoard had been located. A number (about 20) of complete artefacts, fragments and pieces of manufacturing waste were recovered from an area that was approximately 600mm across. However it rapidly became apparent that the complete hoard had been plough disturbed and that none of the finds were in situ as plough soil could be seen around and under the finds. In addition fragments of wood, or root, were noted around the finds and a sample of this material was retained as the find spot is well away from any existing trees in a large, arable field.
Following the recovery of the hoard finds the excavation area was cleaned by hand and a small depression measuring 350mm across, but only 80mm deep, was defined cut into the underlying silty sand natural. This feature remnant originally contained the hoard but arable cultivation of the field had disturbed the entire contents of the deposit. Some 350mm to the west of the hoard 'pit' a further area of disturbed soil was noted and hand cleaning defined a north-south running ditch which was some 600mm wide. The fill of this ditch was generally clean of charcoal flecks or other indicators of nearby domestic activity. Following the completion of this investigation the spoil was replaced mechanically and was subject to further detector cover. In addition an area of some 8 sq. m to the south of the main investigation was mechanically scraped to a depth of about 300mm and searched with detectors as one or two of the original hoard finds had been located in this area 2-3m away from the main deposit following plough disturbance.

As noted above the find spot is now within an arable field well away from any evidence of historic occupation. However the find spot does lie close to a complex of field boundaries and associated features recorded on aerial photographs which are likely to represent activity of Roman or earlier date. In addition the small scale investigation of the area immediately around the find spot has revealed a ditch of possible prehistoric date and this feature may have influenced the positioning of the hoard pit.
The author would like to thank the finders and the landowners and their representative for their co-operation and help in allowing this successful investigation to go ahead.
The artefacts recovered in this hoard are currently being identified and researched by the Finds Liaison Officer (Suffolk) and other staff of Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service. Further information about the finds recovered will be published at in due course.
J. Newman, Archaeological Service, Suffolk County Council.

The Conservative Party declares it support for the long-term funding of the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Published: 19 years ago Author:

At a meeting to present archaeological policy, the Conservative Party spokesman on Archaeology, Malcolm Moss MP, welcomed the success of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and called upon the Government to ensure its long-term future.


The 'Historic Environment Forum' meeting at the Society of Antiquaries in London on 27th November 2002 provided the forum for representatives of political parties to present their policies on 'archaeology and the historic environment'.


In his presentation the Conservative Party spokesman on Archaeology, Mr Moss (Member of Parliament for North Cambridgeshire) welcomed the success of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and commended the Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund for ensuring the Scheme success in the short-term; until April 2006, when Lottery funding ends. However, he expressed concerns for the future of the Scheme after that. Mr Moss said that 'the Portable Antiquities Scheme had been incredibly successful', and 'in no way can't it continue after that'. He urged the Government to 'commit to the Scheme's long-term funding'.


At the same meeting Lord Redesdale, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Archaeology, confirmed his party's support for funding the Portable Antiquities Scheme in the long-term.


Presentations were also given by Jenny Jones (London Assembly Member) - Green Party, Martin Linton (MP) - Labour Party, Simon Thomas (MP) - Plaid Cymru. Michael Russell (MSP) - The Scottish Nationalist Party was unable to attend.

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