DCMS Press Release: 246/2000
3rd October 2000
GOVERNMENT BEGINS REVIEW OF TREASURE ACT
The Department for Culture Media and Sport is to begin a review of
the 1996 Treasure Act, Arts Minister Alan Howarth announced today.
The Act introduced a clear definition of treasure, made
non-declaration of finds an offence and gave landowners the right to
a share of the reward for a find made on their land. It has produced
a ninefold increase in the number of items of treasure brought
forward by the public with declared finds soaring from 24 a year
before 1997 to 224 in 1999/2000.
The review will be carried out on behalf of the Government by Elaine
Paintin, an independent consultant, and is expected to be completed
by the end of March 2001. A consultation paper will be distributed in
mid December to all interested parties for comment. It will
concentrate on the two main issues of definition of treasure and the
system of administration of finds.
Alan Howarth said:
"The 1996 Treasure Act has prompted record increases in finds offered
to museums and revealed important, remarkable treasure which would
have gone unrecorded in previous years. As the number of new cases
increases the Government is determined that make sure that the
process continues efficiently and thoroughly. We know that some cases
have been taking longer to deal with than they should have done. This
review will help to build on our achievements and improve the way
finds are processed in the future."
Notes to Editors
1. The Treasure Act 1996 removed the worst anomalies of the old
law of treasure trove and defined more clearly what qualifies as
2. The Act has proved highly successful: there has been an
eightfold increase in the number of treasure items declared (from
about 24 a year before 1997 to 224 in 1999/2000).
3. Administration of the new system has been greatly helped by the
introduction of a pilot scheme, funded by DCMS, to promote the
voluntary recording by experts of archaeological finds. So far the
scheme is operating in 11 areas: Kent, Norfolk, North
Lincolnshire, the North West, West Midlands, Yorkshire, Dorset &
Somerset, Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Suffolk and Wales.
4. The Review is being carried out by DCMS in conjunction with the
Northern Ireland Environment & Heritage Service which administers
treasure in Northern Ireland.
5. The review will concentrate on two main issues: the definition
of treasure and the system of administration of finds. This
includes policy on the payment of rewards, arrangements for the
acquisition of objects and the valuation of treasure by the
Treasure Valuation Committee.
6. Any changes recommended to the Codes would have to be approved
by an affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament.
Council for British Archaeology
Bowes Morrell House
Tel: +44 (0)1904 671417
Fax: +44 (0)1904 671384