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British Museum reports large increase in archaeological finds found by the public
Today Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, will launch the Portable Antiquities & Treasure Annual Report 2008, to coincide with an announcement by the British Museum that there has been a massive increase in archaeological finds found by the public.
In 2010, 90,146 archaeological objects were recorded through the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), a 36% increase on 2009, and 859 Treasure cases, up 10%; the British Museum manages the PAS, and also administers the Treasure Act 1996.
This increase in finds is mostly due to a rebuild of the PAS finds database in early 2010, which has made it easier to use for recorders and the public, and interns employed to record finds, generously funded by the Headley Trust and Institute for Archaeologists. Finds recorded by the PAS, include prehistoric flints, Roman brooches, Anglo-Saxon strap-ends, medieval coins, and some post-medieval false teeth...
Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said:
'The high number of finds recorded is testament to the tremendous success of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the Treasure Act, and I am delighted that we have been able to agree new contracts with all the partners in the Scheme, so the current posts will continue. The finds reported though the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure are changing our understanding of the past, helping archaeologists learn where people lived and died, and how these finds were used. But what is truly exciting, is that these finds are being made by the public not (in most cases) by archaeologists, transforming the archaeological map of Britain'.
Ed Vaizey said:
'I am a great fan of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. It has a tremendous ability to engage all sorts of people with an interest in archaeology, including those who find objects and those who want to learn about them. I’d like to pay tribute to everyone involved with the scheme, especially its finds liaison officers and the many people who have promptly and properly reported their finds. Thanks to them we can all experience something of the thrill of discovery and learn more about the past'.
The Minister is also pleased to announce that Professor Lord Colin Renfrew of Kaimsthorn has been appointed as successor to Professor Norman Palmer as Chairman of the Treasure Valuation Committee.
Medieval gold locket found in Rolleston, Nottinghamshire, about AD 1450-1500
Finds on display
A Late Iron Age coin hoard of 840 gold staters from Wickham Market area, Suffolk (Report: No. 471). Date: AD c. 15-c. 20. Found on and after March 2008 by the finder; more coins were found during an archaeological excavation of the findspot by Suffolk County Council’s Archaeology Service in October 2008. The hoard is highly significant as it is the largest hoard of Iron Age gold coins discovered since the Whaddon Chase Hoard (Buckinghamshire) in 1849; unfortunately this find was partially dispersed at the time of discovery, making it difficult to estimate the number of coins found. Colchester & Ipswich Museums hope to acquire.
A Roman knife handle from Syston, Lincolnshire (Report: No. 114). Date: AD c.43-c.410. Found by David Barker. This object depicts an erotic scene involving two males and a female, and a decapitated head! Only a handful of erotic knife handles are known from Britain, and this is handle is of a new type. The significance of the decapitated head is unclear. Acquired by The Collection, Lincoln.
A group of Early Medieval gold objects from West Yorkshire (Report: No. 182). Date: c.600-c1100. Found on 14 and 15 September 2008. The group comprises five gold objects, including three finger-rings, a gold ingot and a fragment of a gold cloisonné brooch. The largest finger-ring, weighing 30grams, is fitted with a central garnet and a twisted gold hoop. Another ring features four unique niello panels, some with zoomorphic decoration. This is a very special group, testifying to the high level of workmanship among Early Medieval goldsmiths. Leeds Museums & Galleries hope to acquire.
A Medieval gold locket from Rolleston, Nottinghamshire (Report: No. 354). Date: c.1450-c.1500. Found by Darren Hoyle on 7 August 2008. This object has the inscription cauns [sauns] repentir (without regret), which may have been an amatory phrase. This padlock is closely comparable to one from the Fishpool Hoard (Nottinghamshire), found in 1966, and on display in the British Museum. The Fishpool Hoard is thought to have been deposited in May 1464, during the Wars of the Roses. It is possible the Rolleston and Fishpool lockets were made by the same workshop. The Rolleston locket has also been acquired by the British Museum.
Notes to Editors:
The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is a voluntary scheme (managed by the British Museum) to record archaeological objects (not necessarily Treasure) found by members of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past. More information can be found on www.finds.org.uk
All finders of gold and silver objects, groups of coins from the same find, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1 January 2003 also qualify as Treasure. Potential Treasure finds must be reported by law to the local coroner, which is normally done through the finders’ local PAS Finds Liaison Officer. If declared Treasure, they may be acquired by a museum at their full market value (normally split 50/50 between finder and landowner), valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee, which is an independent committee of expert. The Treasure Process is administered by the British Museum. More information is available on www.culture.gov.uk or www.finds.org.uk
This is the last combined Portable Antiquities and Treasure Annual Report. The Treasure Act 1996 requires a report to published on the operation of the Treasure Act, and also it is hoped a short report will be published on the work of the PAS, however all PAS and Treasure finds are reported on the PAS database – www.finds.org.uk
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