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British Museum to Manage Portable Antiquities Scheme, as Exciting New Finds Go on Display
American gold coins. Photo: Courtesy The Portable Antiquities Scheme.
LONDON.- Culture Minister Ed Vaizey confirmed that the future funding of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has been secured with a reduction of 15% in real terms over four years. From April 2011 it will be managed directly by the British Museum.

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said: ‘Following the Spending Review settlement we will wish to maintain the integrity of the Portable Antiquities Scheme as much as we can. Bringing both the PAS and the administration of the Treasure Act together under the management of the British Museum will ensure an effective and efficient mechanism for dealing with archaeological finds made by the public, which also complements the work of curators, conservators and others at the museum’.

Ed Vaizey said: ‘The PAS has been crucial in ensuring the most important archaeological finds found by the public are recorded to advance knowledge and so the past can be enjoyed by all. As part of the British Museum, the PAS will be able to best build on its success to date and remain a central and successful part of British archaeology’.

This announcement coincides with the launch of the Treasure Annual Report 2008, which shows that a further 806 Treasure cases have been reported that year, bringing the total number of cases to 6429 since 1997, when the Act came into force. Fundamental to the success of the Treasure Act is the PAS and its network of Finds Liaison Officers, who work closely with finders, advising them of their legal obligations and helping them report finds. To date 659,000 finds have been recorded by the PAS, including 84,891 in the last 12 months - transforming our knowledge of the past.

Important finds featured in the Treasure Annual Report, and which will be on display at its launch, include a Bronze Age gold bracelet from Castlederg, County Tyrone, and a seventeenth-century silverware hoard from Nether Stowey, Somerset – perhaps hidden during the English Civil War. Also on display in the gallery are part of a hoard of 52,503 Roman coins from Frome, Somerset, a sixteenth-century lead-alloy toy coach from the City, London, and 80 $20 gold coins from Hackney, London.

Finds on display

A Late Bronze Age gold bracelet from Castlederg area, County Tyrone
(Treasure: NI 08.2). Date: c. 950-c. 800 BC. Found in April 2008 by the finder while clearing stones from a newly ploughed field. The position of the findspot, on a rise on fertile land that slopes down to a river, might suggest it was originally deposited there on purpose, rather than an accidental loss. The find is rare as a single find (Irish bracelets of this type are normally found in hoards) and few are decorated. Ulster Museum (National Museums Northern Ireland) hopes to acquire.

A hoard of 52,503 Roman coins
(Treasure: 2010 T272). Deposited c. AD 394. The hoard was found by Dave Crisp while metal-detecting in April 2010 at Frome, Somerset, and reported to Katie Hinds (Wiltshire FLO). Mr Crisp has been commended for not excavating the hoard himself but allowing it to be recovered archaeologically, which was undertaken by Somerset County Council. The hoard is significant since it is the largest Roman coin hoard ever found in a single container and the fact that in contains a significant number of coins of the Emperor Carausius (766 +314 copies) – Britain’s ‘lost emperor’. The quantity of coins and the size of the pot make it difficult to see how it could have been recovered easily, and therefore ritual deposition is a possibility. Somerset County Museums Service hopes to acquire.

A lead-alloy toy coach from the City of London
(PAS: LON-81D1C7). Date: c. 1575-c. 1600. Found by Andy Johanessen while searching the foreshore, and recorded by Felicity Winkley (PAS Headley Intern, London). This toy was found in a flattened state and the finder carefully straightened and returned it to its former shape. This is a rare survival, given the objects fragility.

A seventeenth-century silverware hoard from Nether Stowey, Somerset
(Treasure: 2008 T645), consisting of four spoons, a goblet and a bell salt, and an incomplete earthenware vessel in which the silver was concealed. Found while metal-detecting and reported to Anna Booth (Somerset FLO). The hoard is likely to have been hidden for safekeeping during the English Civil War; at this time Stowey Court, which is in close proximity to the findspot, was a Royalist garrison, and there is recorded evidence that during this period local people were hiding objects of value. All the silver objects have the owner’s mark ‘CGA’. Somerset County Museums Service hopes to acquire.

A hoard of 80 $20 gold coins from Hackney, London.
Date: 1854-1913. Found by chance while digging in a garden. Although the coins are relatively modern they are potential Treasure under the legal definition. Since there is the possibility that the original owner (or an heir) is still alive, the Inner North London coroner has opened the inquest inviting claimants to come forward.

British Museum | Ed Vaizey | Portable Antiquities Scheme |


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