Treasure Annual Report 2012

I am delighted to introduce the Treasure Act Annual Report 2012, which provides a report on the operation of the Treasure Act 1996 during 2012.

The Treasure Act 1996 is a continuing success, ensuring that museums are able to acquire the most significant archaeological discoveries for the benefit of all. 2012 saw a modest increase in the number of potential Treasure finds reported in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (990); 21 more than the number reported in the previous year. Of these items, 367 have been (or are to be) acquired by museums.

Many museum acquisitions have been made possible only through the kind assistance of funding bodies, particularly the Art Fund, Headley Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund, National Heritage Memorial Fund and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund. We are thankful to these organisations for their recognition of the importance of archaeological finds and their support of museums' efforts to acquire them. This year also saw the launch of a new funding stream from the Art Fund called 'Treasure Plus' which enabled museums that had already acquired Treasure to increase the public's engagement with it by facilitating new displays, exhibitions and learning activities. I also applaud the large number of interested parties waiving their right to a reward for Treasure cases, with individuals foregoing their share in 93 cases this year. These donations have allowed 52 museums to acquire finds that may otherwise have not been available for the public to study and enjoy.

There are many bodies and people who deserve praise for the ongoing success of the Treasure Act, in particular the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and its local network of Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs), to whom almost all finds of Treasure are reported. The FLOs' role is vital in disseminating information about the Act and archaeological best practice to finders of treasure and landowners. They are indispensable in facilitating the administration of Treasure cases and providing the logistical means for the Act to function. Together with curators, scientists and conservators at the national museums of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, they also provide expert reports on Treasure finds for Coroners, who, along with their staff, are also owed thanks for their diligence in holding Treasure inquests. The Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory at the British Museum, which coordinates the PAS, also supports coroners in England and serves as the secretariat for the Treasure Valuation Committee and I am grateful for their continued excellent work. In order to ensure the long-term success of the Act, and that it reflects current practice and works as efficiently as possible, the Government began this year a process to conduct a Review of the Treasure Act Code of Practice. This will also consider the definition of Treasure, and whether that should be amended.

Finally I would like to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the Treasure Valuation Committee, chaired by Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, which considered 359 treasure cases during 2012. I am thankful for the services of all of the Committee members, who voluntarily provide their time and expertise.

Ed Vaizey Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy December 2014

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