British Museum to manage the Portable Antiquities Scheme, as exciting new finds go on display

Published: 10 years ago Author:

Ed Vaizey with the Northern Ireland bracelet, next to the Nether Stowey HoardCulture Minister Ed Vaizey today confirmed that the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) will be managed directly by the British Museum from April 2011.

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said:

'Following a tough Spending Review settlement we will wish to maintain the integrity of the Portable Antiquities Scheme as much as we can. Bringing both the PAS and the administration of the Treasure Act together under the management of the British Museum will ensure an effective and efficient mechanism for dealing with archaeological finds made by the public, which also compliments the work of curators, conservators and others at the museum'.

Funding for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is currently managed by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, (MLA) has been agreed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport with a reduction of 15% in real terms over four years.

Ed Vaizey said:

"The Portable Antiquities Scheme has been crucial in ensuring the most important archaeological finds discovered by members of the public are recorded, to advance knowledge and so the past can be enjoyed by all. Under the stewardship of the British Museum, the PAS will remain a central and successful part of British archaeology".

This announcement coincides with the launch of the Treasure Annual Report 2008, which shows that a further 806 Treasure cases have been reported that year, bringing the total number of cases to 6429 since 1997, when the Act came into force. Fundamental to the success of the Treasure Act is the PAS and its network of Finds Liaison Officers, who work closely with finders, advising them of their legal obligations and helping them report finds. To date 659,000 finds have been recorded by the PAS, including 84,891 in the last 12 months - transforming our knowledge of the past.

Important finds featured in the Treasure Annual Report, and which will be on display at its launch, include a Bronze Age gold bracelet from Castlederg, County Tyrone, and a seventeenth-century silverware hoard from Nether Stowey, Somerset - perhaps hidden during the English Civil War. Also on display in the gallery are part of a hoard of 52,503 Roman coins from Frome, Somerset, a sixteenth-century lead-alloy toy coach from the City, London, and 80 $20 gold coins from Hackney, London.

For further information or images please contact Hannah Boulton or Esme Wilson on 020 7323 8522 / 8394 or communications@britishmuseum.org

Finds on display

A Late Bronze Age gold bracelet from Castlederg area, County Tyrone (Treasure: NI 08.2). Date: c. 950-c. 800 BC. Found in April 2008 by the finder while clearing stones from a newly ploughed field. The position of the findspot, on a rise on fertile land that slopes down to a river, might suggest it was originally deposited there on purpose, rather than an accidental loss. The find is rare as a single find (Irish bracelets of this type are normally found in hoards) and few are decorated. Ulster Museum (National Museums Northern Ireland) hopes to acquire.

A hoard of 52,503 Roman coins (Treasure: 2010T272). Deposited c. AD 394. The hoard was found by Dave Crisp while metal-detecting in April 2010 at Frome, Somerset, and reported to Katie Hinds (Wiltshire FLO). Mr Crisp has been commended for not excavating the hoard himself but allowing it to be recovered archaeologically, which was undertaken by Somerset County Council. The hoard is significant since it is the largest Roman coin hoard ever found in a single container and the fact that in contains a significant number of coins of the Emperor Carausius (766 +314 copies) - Britain's 'lost emperor'. The quantity of coins and the size of the pot make it difficult to see how it could have been recovered easily, and therefore ritual deposition is a possibility. Somerset County Museums Service hopes to acquire.

A lead-alloy toy coach from the City of London (PAS: LON-81D1C7). Date: c. 1575-c. 1600. Found by Andy Johanessen while searching the foreshore, and recorded by Felicity Winkley (PAS Headley Intern, London). This toy was found in a flattened state and the finder carefully straightened and returned it to its former shape. This is a rare survival, given the objects fragility. A seventeenth-century silverware hoard from Nether Stowey, Somerset (Treasure: 2008T645), consisting of four spoons, a goblet and a bell salt, and an incomplete earthenware vessel in which the silver was concealed. Found while metal-detecting and reported to Anna Booth (Somerset FLO).

The hoard is likely to have been hidden for safekeeping during the English Civil War; at this time Stowey Court, which is in close proximity to the findspot, was a Royalist garrison, and there is recorded evidence that during this period local people were hiding objects of value. All the silver objects have the owner's mark 'CGA'. Somerset County Museums Service hopes to acquire. A hoard of 80 $20 gold coins from Hackney, London. Date: 1854-1913. Found by chance while digging in a garden. Although the coins are relatively modern they are potential Treasure under the legal definition. Since there is the possibility that the original owner (or an heir) is still alive, the Inner North London coroner has opened the inquest inviting claimants to come forward.

Notes to Editors:

  1. All finders of gold and silver objects, and groups of coins from the same finds, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1 January 2003 also qualify as Treasure. Treasure finds must be reported by law to the local coroner, which is normally done through the finders local PAS Finds Liaison Officer. The Treasure Process is administered by the BritishMuseum. More information is available on www.culture.gov.uk or www.finds.org.uk
  2. The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is a voluntary scheme (currently managed by the British Museum on behalf of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council) to record archaeological objects (not necessarily 'Treasure') found by members of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past. More information can be found on www.finds.org.uk
  3. Last year the first combined Portable Antiquities and Treasure Annual Report (for 2007) waspublished, and another (for 2008) is due in Spring 2010. This will be the final combined report due to resource restrictions. However, the Treasure Act requires a report to published, hence the publication of the Treasure Annual Report 2008 in its current format.

Contact: Hannah Boulton or Esme Wilson 020 7323 8522

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