Record-breaking year for finds discovered by public

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30 March 2020
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Copper alloy radiate coin of Emperor Carausius from Headbourne Worthy, Hampshire. Roman Britain AD 286–293 © The Trustees of the British Museum Copper alloy radiate coin of Emperor Carausius from Headbourne Worthy, Hampshire. Roman Britain AD 286–293
The British Museum has revealed that the number of Treasure finds made by members of the public hit a record level in 2019.

Treasure – generally defined as gold and silver objects that are over 300 years old, or groups of coins and prehistoric metalwork – reached a preliminary figure of 1,311 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2019, according to the Museum.

A total of 81,602 finds were recorded with the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) in 2019. Almost 90% of these archaeological items were discovered by metal detectorists. Norfolk was the county which produced the most finds, followed by Suffolk and Hampshire.

Currently there are more than 1.4 million objects recorded by the PAS on its online database finds.org.uk, which is freely accessible to the public. The PAS is managed by the British Museum in England and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and exists to document archaeological objects found by the public, to further our understanding of the past. 

Coins found in 2019 include a Carausius radiate from Headbourne Worthy, Hampshire which shed new light on the coinage of the period.

The British Museum statement explained:

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'This radiate has an earlier obverse (‘heads’) type and inscription than would be expected from this period, suggesting that earlier coin dies could have been reused to create this radiate. This reuse is an important piece of evidence for the development of Carausius’ coinage, which may not have otherwise come to light without the detailed, systematic recording of coins like this through the PAS.'

The Treasure Act (1996)

Under the Treasure Act (www.finds.org.uk/treasure) finders have a legal obligation to report all finds of potential Treasure to the local coroner in the district in which the find was made. The Act allows a national or local museum to acquire Treasure finds for public benefit. If this happens a reward is paid, which is (normally) shared equally between the finder and landowner.

Rewards are fixed at the full market value of the finds, determined by the Secretary of State upon the advice of an independent panel of experts, known as the Treasure Valuation Committee.

Image: Copper alloy radiate coin of Emperor Carausius from Headbourne Worthy, Hampshire. Roman Britain AD 286–293 (© The Trustees of the British Museum).

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