The Work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme

by Wendy Scott, Finds Liaison Officer for Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland

The government-funded Portable Antiquities Scheme has been set up to accompany the new Treasure Act (1996). The new Act more clearly defines treasure and now includes non-precious metal, such Bronze Age metalworking hoards. However, it was agreed that most of the portable antiquities found by the public did not come under the Act and as such were not being properly recorded. The pilot scheme set up in 4 areas in 1997 was very successful, with thousands of objects recorded. By December 2003 the scheme will cover the whole of England and Wales.

The main advantages of the scheme are:-

  • To advance knowledge of the history and archaeology of England and Wales by the systematic recording of archaeological objects found by the public.
  • To raise awareness amongst the public of the educational value of archaeological finds in their context and facilitate research in them.
  • To increase opportunities for active public involvement in archaeology and strengthen links between metal detector users and archaeologists.
  • To encourage all those who find archaeological objects to make them available for recording and to promote best practice by finders.

I am responsible for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. My job is to ensure as many finds are recorded as possible. In order to reach the most people I hope to arrange regular finds days throughout the Museums in the county. As well as being there to look at finds I will also use these days as an opportunity to promote the work of local archaeological groups and show recently recorded finds.

All the information gained is added to the local Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) and the national online database at www.finds.org.uk. This information will provide a valuable educational tool, from using the website to identify finds to organised educational activity; such as working with schools using archaeological material to bring to life topics in the National Curriculum. We also want to use this information to aid community projects and generally raise awareness of the importance of archaeological objects.

If you have any ideas or know of any groups who would benefit from my work then please get in touch, all ideas are welcome!

If you have found any objects that should be recorded, you can leave them at your Local Museum or you can bring them to me directly at the headquarters of Leicestershire Museums at Thurmaston. I can be contacted on telephone number 0116 264 5807 or e-mailed at wscott@leics.gov.uk.

[adapted from an information sheet presented at the September 2003 training day organised for the Leicestershire Museums Archaeological Fieldwork Group at Jewry Wall Museum, Leicester.]

Last revised 4 May 2004

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