Portable Antiquities Annual Report 2016

A copy of the report can be downloaded as a PDF here.

I am delighted to introduce the PAS annual report for 2016, which once again has been a very exciting and busy year for the Scheme and its partners.

2016 marked the 20th anniversary of the Treasure Act 1996, which was implemented the following year - the 2017 PAS annual report will feature our celebrations of this occasion. An incredible number of Treasure finds have been acquired by museums and there have been major advancements in our knowledge of the past through archaeological finds discovered by the public and recorded with the PAS. I would therefore like to thank all those who have submitted finds for recording with the Scheme in the last year, especially those who have developed the skills to record their own finds on the PAS database through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) funded project PASt Explorers: finds recording in the local community.

The PAS is a partnership project, with the British Museum and the National Museum Wales working with local partners to advance the Scheme's aims. All the Finds Liaison Officers and two of the Finds Advisers (in England) are hosted and employed by local partners, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved with the delivery of the PAS, as well as its advisory groups and other stakeholders. Through the PAS Strategy 2020, and its various working groups, we are committed to take the Scheme forward and ensure it continues to thrive, in order to advance knowledge, involve local people in archaeology, and tell the stories of past communities.

Besides the local partners, who contribute both in cash and in kind to the PAS, there are others who have generously supported the Scheme. As mentioned above, the HLF has graciously funded PASt Explorers, which has enabled many people to develop the skills and expertise to work alongside the FLOs and other PAS staff as volunteers. This contribution, and the dedication of the volunteers, has been enormous. The Headley Trust has once again funded PAS interns, providing an amazing opportunity for archaeology graduates to develop finds identification and recording skills. I would also like to thank the generosity of Graham and Joanna Barker, who have supported the PAS with extra funding for local partners, especially (but not exclusively) in the north of England. In the current climate of reduced funding for local government, this support has been essential in maintaining a national scheme, and it will be important for the PAS to seek further funding to advance its work at both the national and local level.

A recent achievement has been a revision of the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales, which has been agreed by the main archaeological, metal detecting and landowner organisations. The Code provides an opportunity for individual finders to demonstrate how, if undertaken responsibly, metal-detecting can add value to archaeology, and lead to a better understanding of the past. Similarly, the PAS is working with recording schemes in northern Europe, especially through the North Sea Area Finds Recording Group, to share expertise on finds recording, best practice and public engagement, to advance pan-European research on the value of public finds for understanding the past. It is certainly an exciting era, and one that I hope will prove extremely fruitful.

Hartwig Fischer
Director, British Museum

The PAS in 2016

• 81,914 finds were recorded; a total of 1,303,504 on the PAS database (finds.org.uk/database) to date.

• Almost 88% of finds were discovered by metal-detectorists.

• 90% of finds were found on cultivated land, where they are susceptible to plough damage and artificial and natural corrosion.

• 99% of PAS finds were recorded to the nearest 100m (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 rural Roman farmstead in Shropshire, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in East Yorkshire, and a medieval kiln in Cumbria.

• Currently 740 researchers have full access to PAS data, and there are 10,633 registered users in total.

• To date, PAS data has been used in 599 research projects, including 25 pieces of large-scale research and 125 PhDs.

• 326,502 unique visitors visited the PAS websites and database, making 652,079 visits and 5,777,326 page requests.

• Publications associated with the work of the PAS include reports in Britannia, Medieval Archaeology and Post-Medieval Archaeology.

• Over 524 outreach events took place, including talks, finds days and exhibitions. These were attended by at least 32,569 adults and 2,699 children in museum across the country.

• Finds Liaison Officers had regular contact with 114 metal detecting clubs, attending 502 club meetings.