Annual report summary 1997 - 1998

This report details the achievements of the Portable Antiquities Scheme in the first year of its operation.

Summary of the key points

  • The scheme is being funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the British Museum via the Museums & Galleries Commission. It has the support of the National Council for Metal Detecting. Also involved in the Steering Group for the scheme are English Heritage, the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, the National Museums & Galleries of Wales and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales with support from the Association of Local Government Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology and the Society of Museum Archaeologists.
  • Six finds liaison officer posts have been established in Kent, Norfolk, North Lincolnshire, the North West, the West Midlands and Yorkshire, funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the British Museum for two and a half years from September 1997 to 1 April 2000.
  • The Heritage Lottery Fund is funding a further five pilot schemes in Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Somerset & Dorset, Suffolk and the whole of Wales, together with a sixth post for an Outreach Officer for eighteen months from early 1999. The pilot schemes now cover more than half of England and Wales.
    In their first year the six liaison officers have recorded over 13,500 archaeological objects that would otherwise have been unrecorded, including some objects of great archaeological and historical importance.
  • The data being gathered by the liaison officers will be passed on to the relevant Sites and Monuments Record. It is a priority under the scheme to note the findspots of the objects recorded in as much detail as possible so that this information can add to our knowledge of their archaeological context.
  • The six liaison officers have recorded objects found by 994 finders and maintain regular contact with 47 metal detecting clubs.
  • Where statistics were kept on the numbers of finds recorded before the liaison officers took up their posts, they have generally at least doubled the number of finds being recorded and have often achieved much higher increases.
  • The liaison officers record objects made by any member of the public, not just metal detector users, although detector users are responsible for more than 90 per cent of the finds reorded. Equally, the liaison officers record all archaeological objects, not just those made of metal, and they have recorded 848 stone and 1,723 pottery objects.
  • A Portable Antiquities database has been developed to enable the liaison officers to record finds.
  • A leaflet, Finding our Past, has been drafted to explain the scheme to finders and an Annual Report has been published.

Taken from 'Portable Antiquities - Annual Report 1997-98', published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.