Treasure finds up 12% last year - Museums Association

Treasure finds up 12% last year

970 treasure cases and over 97,500 archaeological finds recorded in 2011
Annual reports for the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) have shown rises of 12% and 8% respectively in finds recorded in England and Wales for the year 2011.

Figures published last week show that 97,509 finds and 970 treasure cases were recorded during that period.

Public awareness of the work carried out by the PAS is rising, with peak viewing figures of 4.5 million tuning in to the ITV1 series Britain’s Secret Treasures this year.

The programme, which was screened in July, highlighted 50 important finds recorded through the PAS.

According to the PAS annual report, the scope and impact of the scheme’s website is also increasing. The award-winning online database now features 820,000 finds from England and Wales and almost 400,000 images, and was accessed by nearly half a million people last year.

The success of the scheme has continued in 2012 with a number of significant discoveries. These include a rare late-Iron Age helmet recorded in Kent, a boar mound associated with Richard III found on the Thames foreshore in London and the discovery in St Albans of one of the largest hoards of Roman coins ever found in Britain.

The British Museum (BM) took over responsibility for the PAS in 2011. BM director Neil MacGregor said: “It is clear from the discoveries reported this year that the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme goes from strength to strength.

“The ITV series this year shows just how much these finds have captured the public’s imagination and changed our understanding of the past. It is a scheme which is envied the world over.”

The Museums Association’s head of policy, Maurice Davies, said: “The PAS does a brilliant job of balancing the wider public interest in archaeology with a very English sense of people's right to be 'finders keepers'.

"It is so effective and well-established, it's hard to believe that it has only been in operation for around a decade.”

The PAS is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and was established to encourage members of the public to voluntarily report archaeological objects they have found.

It is also responsible for enforcing the Treasure Act, which obliges finders of treasure - gold and silver objects or coins that are at least 300 years old - to report finds within 14 days.

The scheme maintains a national network of finds liaison officers. Its budget, which was previously £1.4m, is being cut by 15% during the current spending review.  

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