1. A large Bronze Age gold torc, or armlet, 1300-1100 BC found in Cambridgeshire.

The people's treasure

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and Treasure are two of the most beneficial schemes for British archaeology ever devised. At their joint annual meeting, held at the British Museum, it was announced that 82,272 archaeological finds were made by the public in 2015.

Among them are: a Bronze Age gold torc or armlet that measures circa 126cm (the largest ever found) dated circa 1300-1100 BC and found in Cambridgeshire; a beautifully enamelled Anglo-Saxon hanging bowl mount, which dates to AD 600-725, from West Sussex (similar to one from Sutton Hoo in Suffolk); and a hoard of 463 silver coin clippings discovered in Gloucestershire. The silver clippings were probably deposited around the time of the Great Recoinage of 1696 when all pre-1662 hand-struck coinage was recalled from English currency and turned into machine-struck coins. This led to the illegal practice of clipping silver from the edge of the older coins.


2. An enamelled Anglo-Saxon hanging bowl mount, AD 600-725.

A further 1008 Treasure finds were reported in 2016 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; the most significant of them have been acquired by museums across the country.

This year sees the 20th anniversary of the passing of the Treasure Act and the formation of the PAS. Over the last two decades the PAS has recorded over 1.2 million archaeological finds. This data has been widely used by academics, students and others in over 528 projects, including 25 pieces of large-scale research and 110 PhDs.

The PAS is a partnership project, managed by the British Museum working with 119 national and local partners to deliver its aims. It is an important part of the British Museum's National Programmes activity, which extends across the UK.


3. A hoard of 463 silver coin clippings, circa 1640.

As part of the Heritage Lottery Funded project PAS Explorers, the PAS is working with volunteers across the country to record finds made by the public and get people involved in archaeology. During 2015, 259 volunteers, including 100 self-recorders (metal-detectorists who record their own finds on the PAS database) have contributed to the work of the scheme. 

The PAS is now working closely with other European areas, including Denmark, Flanders and the Netherlands, where initiatives are underway to record archaeological finds made by the public. There are also plans for these recording schemes to work even more closely together, to share all information about discoveries and to record them. A North Sea Area finds recording group has been recently established to take this forward.
• (For further details visit the PAS database: www.finds.org.uk/database)
Lindsay Fulcher


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