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Ed Vaizey

Britain: top of the hoard league tables

A little known fact I discovered this week – Britain tops the league table for hoards. I am told, we have more archaeological finds every year than any other country. Whether this is per square foot or per head of the population, I am not sure, but it is a good statistic so I’m going to use it.

The reason I found this out was a visit to the British Museum to help launch the annual Treasure and Portable Antiquities Annual Reports which record every archaeological find reported for the year. There were more than 97,000, including some 970 that can be classified as treasure.

Hoard-blo.jpgThrough the unique and successful Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), new discoveries are reported locally to Finds Liaison Officers who record and catalogue them meticulously. Most are discovered by enthusiastic metal detectorists, the vast majority of whom, I am pleased to say, understand and respect the system and make sure their finds are recorded and properly preserved. There are now more than 800,000 such finds recorded on the PAS website.

This is a special ecology – amateur enthusiasts, working with experts, and funded by Government and the Headley Trust, as well as Local Authorities. It’s important – the public love these kind of discoveries, and the scheme ensures that important and world famous finds like the Staffordshire Hoard are immediately handled properly and scrupulously, and so saved for the nation. Long may it continue.

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