Portable Antiquities Annual Report 2013

One million finds have now been recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) since 1997. This is a remarkable milestone and represents a considerable contribution to archaeological knowledge. It is also a testament to the success of the PAS in breaking down barriers between archaeologists and metaldetectorists. I would therefore like to thank all of those involved with the Scheme, from its local Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs) and their managers, through the support given by museum curators and other finds experts across the country, to the many hundreds of people who have offered finds for recording over the past 17 years.

The PAS is funded through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's grant in aid to the British Museum, with local partner contributions. The PAS is a significant part of the British Museum's outreach work in the regions, which we are committed to maintain and develop through its network of FLOs. Although the FLOs are the frontline, they are supported by a small Central Unit at the British Museum, as well as the Scheme's Finds Advisers, other experts in museums and institutions across the country and in the wider research community. These partnerships are crucial to the delivery and success of the PAS. It is therefore excellent news that the Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed to fund 'PASt Explorers: finds recording in the local community', a project designed to widen the PAS's volunteer base and also excite people about the archaeology of their local area. This project will ensure that over the next five years (and beyond) there are opportunities for local people to work more closely with the PAS, ensuring that even more finds are recorded. This is particularly necessary since the existing network of FLOs is at recording capacity.

The public appetite for archaeology was again highlighted through another successful series of ITV's Britain's Secret Treasures, with an average of 2.6 million people tuning in to learn more. The number of finds reported Treasure shows no sign of declining, accounting for 993 cases in 2013. The Treasure Act depends on the PAS for its success as well as colleagues at the British Museum, the network of national coroners and museum curators, and the Treasure Valuation Committee. I would also like to thank the generosity of the Art Fund, the Headley Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, who all have funded museum acquisitions of Treasure. Also, thanks to all those who have waived their right to a reward, allowing museums to acquire Treasure finds at no or reduced cost.

The PAS continues to grow as an important research project, with its data being used by academics and the public alike. It is tremendous news that to date this data has been used in 422 research projects, including 15 pieces of large-scale research and 87 PhDs. It is incredible to think that local people are not only rewriting the history of their local area, but (through the PAS) are rewriting the history of this country. Lastly, I would very much like to thank the generosity of Treasure Hunting, who again have generously sponsored the publication of this report.

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The main achievements of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) in 2013 are as follows:

  • 80,861 PAS finds were recorded on the PAS database (finds.org.uk/database).
  • 90% of finds were found by metal-detectorists.
  • 91% of PAS finds were found on cultivated land, where they are susceptible to plough damage and artificial and natural corrosion processes.
  • 99% of PAS finds were recorded to the nearest 100m2 (a 6-figure NGR), the minimum requirement for findspot information for Historic Environment Records.
  • New sites discovered through finds recorded by the PAS include a Romano-British shrine site from Hampshire and a previously unknown Roman road in Shropshire.
  • Currently 815 people have full access to PAS data for research purposes, and there are a further 6,723 registered users. To date, PAS data has been used in 422 research projects, including 15 pieces of large-scale research and 87 PhDs.
  • 505,793 unique visitors visited the PAS websites, making over 767,340 visits and 4,775,018 page requests.
  • Publications associated with the work of the PAS include reports in Britannia, Medieval Archaeology and Post-Medieval Archaeology.
  • 1,849 outreach events took place, including talks, finds days and exhibitions. These were attended by at least 48,541 adults and 3,714 children.
  • The Scheme's Finds Liaison Officers had regular contact with 197 metal-detecting clubs, attending 757 club meetings.
  • 60 self-recorders added 2,768 finds to the database (recorded with the prefix PUBLIC).

The main achievements of the Treasure Act 1996 in 2013 are as follows:

  • 993 Treasure cases were reported. It is hoped that many of these will be acquired by museums for public benefit.
  • 93% of Treasure finds were found by metal-detectorists.
  • Important new Treasure finds included eight Bronze Age gold bracelets from Woollaston, Gloucestershire (2013 T805), a Civil War coin hoard from Staveley, North Yorkshire (2013 T635) and a post-medieval silver ewer from Kingston Russell, Devon (2013 T476). In 2012, 137 parties waived their right to a reward for 79 Treasure cases, allowing them to be acquired by museums at no or reduced cost. Most PAS finds are returned to the finder.