Portable Antiquities Annual Report 2017

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

The unique partnership nature of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is crucial to its success. It brings together management, expertise, financial and in-kind support, as well as lots of goodwill, in order to deliver the Scheme's aims - the primary one being to record archaeological finds made by the public to advance knowledge. I would therefore like to thank the Scheme's 33 principle partners that host and employ PAS posts, as well as the wider partnerships that support the Scheme, both nationally and locally.

The aims and objectives of the PAS, looking to 2020, are being delivered though the PAS Strategy (2015), and taken forward by a series of Working Groups, supported by the Portable Antiquities Advisory Group. I would like to thank all of those involved with these groups, particularly those based in institutions outside the British Museum and its partners directly involved in delivering the PAS; this external expertise is of great value to us all, and once again demonstrates the affection there is for the PAS and what it delivers for archaeological knowledge and public interest in the past.

In 2017 the PAS has also benefited from sources of external funding, not least the Headley Trust (which has once again generously funded PAS Interns), the Heritage Lottery Fund (that is funding PASt Explorers: finds recording in the local community, which supports the PAS volunteer base) and Graham and Joanna Barker (for their funding of the work of the PAS locally). Also, Treasure Hunting magazine (which has funded this report) and Historic England and The Searcher magazine (which have supported new leaflets on the revised Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting and Advice for Landowners).

Metal-detecting represents a broad spectrum of people, including many individuals with an enthusiastic interest in the past and with a keenness to ensure that their hobby is undertaken responsibly and adds to archaeological understanding. I would especially like to thank these people, and the other finders that discover archaeological objects completely by chance, that have undertaken care with the recovery of these finds, offered them for recording, and - in some cases - also donated them to museums for public benefit. Examples of this generosity are highlighted within the pages of this report.

I would also like to thank the Scheme's network of Finds Liaison Officers and other staff, not least the managers of those posts, and also the many interns and volunteers who have worked alongside them to help deliver the PAS. It is a great testament to this work that a further 79,353 archaeological finds have been recorded this year and added to the PAS database (finds.org.uk) for archaeological and research purposes, and also for others to enjoy and learn about. It is a remarkable fact that this database of finds, found by people in the community who are not archaeologists, is transforming the archaeological map of England and Wales, and shaping investigation and research for generations to come.

Hartwig Fischer
Director, British Museum

The PAS in 2017

• 79,353 finds were recorded; a total of 1,370,671 within 878,511 records on the PAS database (finds.org.uk/database) to date.

• 4,378 individuals offered finds for recording; almost 93% of finds were found by metal-detectorists.

• 93% of 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 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 complex later prehistoric riverine wetland 'ritual' landscape in Shropshire, a substantial boundary and walled enclosure of Roman date in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, and a postmedieval kiln site at Crockerton, Wiltshire.

• Currently 399 researchers have full access to PAS data, and there are 12,767 registered users in total.

• 657 research projects have used PAS data to date, including 27 major pieces of large-scale research and 132 PhDs.

• 348,376 unique visitors visited the PAS websites and database, making 713,301 visits and 6,045,761 page requests.

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

• Over 644 outreach events took place, including talks and finds days. Through these, PAS staff had direct contact with at least 38,479 adults and 4,396 children.

• Finds Liaison Officers had regular contact with 133 different metal-detecting clubs, attending 609 club meetings.