At the British Museum, Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, launched the Treasure Annual Report for 2020 and the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) Annual Report for 2021. These show that 45,581 archaeological finds were recorded, including 1,085 Treasure cases, highlighting the massive contribution that members of the public are making to archaeological knowledge. Most of these finds (96%) have been found by people metal- detecting, where most of the finds are made on cultivated land.
The counties recording the most PAS finds in 2021 were Gloucestershire (8,113), Suffolk (4,676) and Lincolnshire (4,247), with significant numbers also recorded in Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Kent, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, and North Yorkshire. For the same year, the areas where most Treasure was reported were Norfolk (85), Kent (74), Lincolnshire and Wiltshire (both 68). These reports outline the work of the PAS in England and Wales, and the success of the Treasure Act 1996 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Featured at the launch of the annual reports was a remarkable gold pendant on chain linked by its imagery to Henry VIII and his first wife Katherine of Aragon (m. 1509-33). The object is formed of a heart-shaped pendant with enameled motifs, link, enameled suspension link in the form of a hand, and a chain made up of 75 links. The front of the pendant is decorated with an entwined “Tudor rose” and pomegranate bush, with the legend + TOVS + IORS (a pun on the French for ‘always’) below; the double-headed white and red rose was used by the Tudors from 1486, and the pomegranate was the badge of Katherine of Aragon. The reverse shows the letters H and K (for Henry and Katherine), in Lombardic script, linked by ribbon, again with the legend + TOVS + IORS. The object was found in Warwickshire by Charlie Clarke while metal-detecting and is likely to be acquired by a museum. For more details on the item see the PAS database record WMID-A51F34.
Also highlighted was a medieval silver strap-end, of interest since it shows a fabulous beast on either side, akin to such animals in medieval manuscripts. On one side is depicted a bird- like animal with long neck and human face, with the other side showing a dog-like animal. Such objects would have adorned the ends of medieval belts (protecting the leather or textile strap), but this one is particularly special since it is ornately decorated, perhaps belonging to someone of some status, such as a merchant. The object dates to the 14th century and was found in Hampshire by Barry Cole while metal-detecting. It is hoped the object will be acquired by Hampshire Cultural Trust. For more details on the item see the PAS database record HAMP-120BDA.
PAS at the British Museum
The Portable Antiquities Scheme database holds information on over 1,608,000 items all freely accessible to the public. Most of these finds were found by metal- detectorists – 96% in 2021.The British Museum supports a responsible approach to searching for finds as outlined in the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal-detecting in England and Wales that helps protect archaeology and advance our knowledge of the past.
The PAS records archaeological finds discovered by the public to advance knowledge, tell the stories of past communities and further public interest in the past. It is a partnership project, managed by the British Museum in England and through Amgueddfa Cymru (Museum Wales) in Wales, working with almost 100 national and local organizations, and delivered through its network of locally based Finds Liaison Officers and supported by key staff at the British Museum and Amgueddfa Cymru, as well as the Welsh Archaeological Trusts, National Finds Advisers, Finds Liaison Assistants, interns and community volunteers.
The PAS report also outlines that in 2021:
- Finds made by 2,665 individuals were recorded
- 96% of finds were found on cultivated land, where they are susceptible to plough damage and artificial and natural corrosion processes
- 98% of PAS finds were recorded to the nearest 100m, the minimum requirement for findspot information for Historic Environment Records
- 872 research projects have used PAS data to date
- 381,021 unique visitors visited the PAS websites and database. Currently, there are at least 54,500 registered account users of the PAS database
- At least 760 outreach events took place, including talks and finds days, attended by over 16,000 people.
Recently the work of the PAS featured on Great British History Hunters (More4) and Digging for Treasure – tonight (Channel 5). Detectorists (BBC) also highlighted the work of the PAS.
Here you can find further information about the British Museum.
You can read all the details in the Treasure Annual Report for 2019 and the Portable Antiquities Scheme Annual Report for 2020.
A bit more than one year ago the Portable Antiquities Scheme Database hit the mark of one million objects recorded.
Here you can access the Portable Antiquities Scheme database.