Over 90 000 archaeological finds were reported to British authorities in 2010, the British Museum reports, which marks a significant increase over previous years. The growth has been credited to the efforts to make it easier to report finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), the British agency in charge of recording archaeological discoveries.
In 2010, 90,146 archaeological objects were recorded through the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), a 36% increase on 2009, and 859 Treasure cases, up 10%; the British Museum manages the PAS, and also administers the Treasure Act 1996.
Some of the finds reported in 2010 included a fifteenth-century gold locket from Rolleston, Nottinghamshire. It has the inscription cauns [sauns] repentir (without regret), which may have been an amatory phrase. The locket was acquired by the British Museum.
Another find was a group of early Medieval gold objects from West Yorkshire Found on 14 and 15 September 2008, it includes three finger-rings, a gold ingot and a fragment of a gold cloisonné brooch. The largest finger-ring, weighing 30 grams, is fitted with a central garnet and a twisted gold hoop. Another ring features four unique niello panels, some with zoomorphic decoration. It shows evidence of high level of workmanship among Early Medieval goldsmiths.
Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said, “The high number of finds recorded is testament to the tremendous success of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the Treasure Act, and I am delighted that we have been able to agree new contracts with all the partners in the Scheme, so the current posts will continue.
“The finds reported though the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure are changing our understanding of the past, helping archaeologists learn where people lived and died, and how these finds were used. But what is truly exciting, is that these finds are being made by the public not (in most cases) by archaeologists, transforming the archaeological map of Britain.”
Ed Vaizey, the UK’s Culture Minister, added, “I am a great fan of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. It has a tremendous ability to engage all sorts of people with an interest in archaeology, including those who find objects and those who want to learn about them. I’d like to pay tribute to everyone involved with the scheme, especially its finds liaison officers and the many people who have promptly and properly reported their finds. Thanks to them we can all experience something of the thrill of discovery and learn more about the past.”
The Portable Antiquities Scheme also released today its Portable Antiquities and Treasure Annual Report 2008, which details the 53,346 archaeological objects have been recorded by the PAS in that year. Over 25% of these discoveries are of objects dating from the Middle Ages. They include a 4th century silver crossbow brooch and a silver shield-shaped plaque depicting St Christopher carrying the Christ-child on his shoulders across a river, which dates to the 15th century.
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