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New Treasure Act = More Finds

From the Department of Culture Media and Sport

(For all its perceived benefits, does the new Act ultimately mean that people are reporting more finds purely for the financial rewards, and does this have any impact on where they're going to dig next? I'm sure it raises lots of issues and different points of view. Not least about the use of the word 'Treasure').

"Large increase in treasure finds on the way says arts minister Estelle Morris"

The Treasure Annual Report published today shows that reported cases
of Treasure can be expected to increase further with the expansion of
the Portable Antiquities Scheme.From December there will be a network of Finds Liaison Officers across England and Wales actively working with finders to ensure the reporting of Treasure finds. A study in the latest Annual Report demonstrates that the presence of a Finds Liaison Officer can increase the number of finds reported as Treasure by up to five

Arts Minister Estelle Morris said:" Once again this report demonstrates the success of the Treasure Act. It also shows how improvements to the Act and the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme have led to a substantial rise in the number of significant new finds that would otherwise not have been reported. I am also pleased to see that many objects are going to regional rather than national museums. This will enable people around the
country to gain a greater understanding of their local heritage. Every now and then a superb find like that of the Ringlemere gold cup reminds us of our hidden heritage - the treasure that lies under our soil waiting to be discovered. It brings the past to the surface
and provides tangible evidence about the lives and skills of those who preceded us. We now have a framework in place through the Treasure Act which enables the significance of such finds to be properly assessed by archaeologists and historians. That adds
immeasurably to the understanding we all have about the history of this country."

Among other developments:
- although the number of finds was slightly down on previous years,
this was due to public access restrictions as a result of foot and
mouth disease and the long term trend still remains upward
- the Treasure Act has recently been extended to include deposits
of prehistoric base metal objects and a better Code of Practice
- the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a voluntary scheme enabling all
archaeological objects found by the public to be recorded, has now
been extended across the whole of England and Wales for the first
- the work of Finds Liaison Officers meant that a number of finds
were reported as Treasure that would otherwise not have been.
- 78 local museums around England and Wales acquired Treasure
objects in 2001. 15 were acquired by the British Museum.

The total value of finds in the Annual Report is about half a
million pounds. The figure represents 89 out of the 214 reported
Treasure finds. Confirmation of outstanding valuations means that the
final total will be higher.

The Treasure Act 1996 removed the worst anomalies of the old
common law of Treasure Trove and defined more clearly what qualifies
as Treasure. Under the Act the following finds are at present defined
as treasure provided they were found after 24 September 1997: a)
objects other than coins at least 300 years old with a minimum
precious metal content of 10%; b) all groups of coins from the same
find at least 300 years old (if the coins have a precious metal
content of less than 10% then the hoard must consist of at least 10
coins) and c) objects found in association with Treasure.

In 2001 the criteria for Treasure were extended to include any
group of two or more metallic objects of any composition of
prehistoric date that come from the same find.

The British Museum is due to hold an exhibition, Buried Treasure:
Finding Our Past between 21 November 2003 - 14 March 2004. The
exhibition includes some of the most spectacular finds from British
history, most of which have been found by chance, by members of the
public. These finds have come to light through the Treasure Act and
Portable Antiquities Scheme and have revolutionised our understanding
of the past. After London, the exhibition will tour to Cardiff,
Manchester, Newcastle and Norwich.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th October 2003ce
Edited 15th October 2003ce

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