A record number of Treasure finds have been recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) for the second year running.
At the launch of the 2016 Treasure Act Annual Report and the 2017 Portable Antiquities Scheme Annual Report, held at the British Museum last December, it was announced that 1,267 Treasure items (defined as gold and silver objects over 300 years old, or groups of coins and prehistoric metalwork – see https://finds.org.uk/treasure for more information) had been recorded across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 2017. This includes 40 from Wales, the largest figure for a single year since the inception of the Treasure Act in 1997; in England, the busiest county was Norfolk, with 130 cases, followed by Lincolnshire and Suffolk.
In total, some 78,000 items (including these Treasure finds) were recorded by the PAS in 2017, resulting in 79,353 new entries to the scheme’s publicly accessible database, https://finds.org.uk. Some 93% of these were found by metal-detectorists. The report also notes that 363 of the Treasure finds recorded in 2016 have now been acquired by museums; it is hoped that many of the 2017 discoveries will also end up in public collections.
Among the ‘star finds’ shown at the launch was a Bronze Age bulla, or pendant, found in the Shropshire Marshes. Dating back 3,000 years, the object was nonetheless in pristine condition, thanks to its waterlogged burial environment, allowing its intricate decorations to be clearly seen. These artefacts are rare in the British Isles – seven are known from Ireland, while one was recorded in Manchester in the 18th century but has since been lost. We will bring you more on this beautiful object in the new year.
Also on show was a 1st- or 2nd-century Romano- British figurine of the goddess Minerva. Made from copper alloy and lead, it was discovered in Hailey, Oxfordshire, in the early 2000s, but had been kept in a margarine tub by its finder who thought it was a modern copy – until it was recognised by another metal-detectorist and taken to the local Finds Liaison Officer. Most Romano- British figurines recorded by the PAS are fragmentary or damaged, so the discovery of a near-complete example is a welcome addition to our understanding of such objects.
For more information on these objects, visit the PAS database and search for OXON-7B00CD and HESH-43148A respectively.
This article appeared in CA 347.