PAS announces 36% rise in archaeological finds

But the future of the scheme in Wales is still uncertain
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Rebecca Atkinson
There was a 36% annual increase in archaeological finds recorded through the Portable Antiquities scheme (PAS) in 2010, and a 10% rise in treasure finds, the British Museum (BM) has announced.

The rise in finds was attributed to the Headley Trust and Institute of Archaeologists providing funding for interns to record finds, and to the redevelopment of the PAS finds database in early 2010.

The British Museum also launched the Portable Antiquities & Treasure Annual Report, which outlines the main achievements of the PAS in 2008.

Speaking at the launch, Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said: “About 700,000 archaeological objects are now in the public domain thanks to the PAS.”

And Ed Vaisey, the culture minister, added: “[The PAS] really is incredibly effective. It’s cost effective, it works and it’s probably the envy of the rest of the world. It connects amateurs and experts, and ensures that what is uncovered underground gets recorded, gets researched and, importantly, often gets displayed to the public.”  

The British Museum took over the running of the PAS in April, but had its funding cut by 15%. As a result, the scheme will withdraw all funding in Wales – equal to £60,000 – from 2012.

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales (NMW) currently puts £10,000 into the scheme, with a further a £5,000 of funding coming from Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales. The money funds a post based at the national museum in Cardiff and a grants scheme.

Roger Bland, director of the PAS, told Museums Journal that discussions as to how the scheme might continue to run in Wales beyond 2012 are still ongoing, following the elections earlier this month.

He added: “The money [for PAS] comes from Renaissance, which is for the English regions, and Wales is a devolved nation.”

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