The most important thing at this stage is to get the review of the Treasure Act underway - and I hope we can all agree that this is worthwhile and much needed. Please press the case for this with DCMS and other politicians.
No doubt there will be debate about any proposals for an extension of the Treasure regime, and the review will allow everyone to put forward reasoned arguments in support of their proposals.
I do not think that we should consider the issue of available resources in determining public policy. We should be seeking the outcome which delivers the appropriate level of public benefit and then using the agreed policy as the basis for seeking the necessary level of resources to ensure its delivery. After all, no-one is arguing that we should remove the laws of theft and trespass from the statute book just because the police do not currently have the resources to deal with all the issues of (so-called) 'nighthawking' (heritage crime) across the country ....
From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Peter Twinn
Sent: 11 October 2010 5:03 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Calls for Treasure Act review
Whilst I agree whole heartedly about the need to see the Treasure Act
changed to encompass such finds as the Crosby Garrett helmet it would seem
that to take every single roman and Saxon silver coin into the Treasure Act
is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
Any more than two coins already constitutes treasure, so are single Roman
and Anglo Saxon coins going to add that much to any than we can already take
in, and what about Viking coins (surely you meant Early Medieval)? It seems
to me that all this will do is add even more workload to our overloaded
FLO's, let alone the fact that the vast majority of museums will not want
the coins as they either have vast collections or they don't have the funds
to buy them anyway.
Whilst there is a good argument to have such items at least offered to the
nation (I support such a move) my feeling is that all this will do is stop
the recording of such items with the PAS as detectorist will always see such
coins as 'prize finds!' They'll say they found them pre 2011 when the
Treasure Act maybe changed, so how do you prove that they weren't found
before that date!
It also raises the question about how we'd manage the vast quantities of
these silver or gold coins that have been found already? How does the CBA
say we ought to deal with this thorny issue? Those coins that are out in the
market place or in private collections? Has this really been thought
From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
On Behalf Of Mike Heyworth
Sent: 11 October 2010 14:51
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [BRITARCH] Calls for Treasure Act review
The Council for British Archaeology has asked the DCMS Minister for Culture,
Communications & Creative Industries Ed Vaizey MP to move forward with the
long-awaited review of the Treasure Act as soon as possible. In a statement
on the CBA web site
(http://www.britarch.ac.uk/news/101011-treasureactreview) I said:
"The review of the Treasure Act was due to have taken place back in 2007. We
are writing to the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative
Industries Ed Vaizey MP to ask him to ensure that the long-promised review
happens as a matter of urgency. It was a tragedy that the Crosby Garrett
helmet has now apparently disappeared into a private collection and may
never be seen in public again. This is not in the public interest, and it is
certainly highly frustrating for all the supporters of the fantastic appeal
to raise funds to keep the find in Cumbria in a public museum where it
The CBA believes that the definition of Treasure should be extended to
incorporate Roman base metal hoards and single finds of Roman and
Anglo-Saxon coins made of precious metal.
At the same time the CBA will be asking the Culture Minister to speak with
colleagues in the Ministry of Justice to move forward with the
implementation of aspects of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 which relate
to the Treasure Act."
This follows on from an earlier column I wrote for the CBA's 'British
Archaeology' magazine published earlier this year on metal detecting and
treasure - see http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ba/ba111/update.shtml.
I have written to Ed Vaizey today as follows:
Treasure Act review
In an article published in the CBA's British Archaeology magazine earlier in
2010 (copy attached) I called for the long-awaited review of the Treasure
Act (originally promised for 2007). The review will provide an opportunity
for the Government to consider the extension of the definition of Treasure
to include base metal hoards of Roman date (which can be achieved without
the need for primary legislation). Had this opportunity been taken in the
last three years then the nationally important Crosby Garrett helmet would
have fallen within the definition of Treasure and it is likely that it would
have remained in public hands. It is a tragedy that the helmet may never
been seen in public again, though if there is an attempt to take it out of
the UK then I would urge you most strongly to use your powers under the
export licensing regime to provide a further opportunity for the helmet to
be purchased by the Tullie House Museum in Cumbria.
We appreciate that there are a number of high priority issues demanding your
attention, but the CBA urges you to press ahead with the review of the
Treasure Act as soon as possible. At the same time we would encourage you to
work with Ministers in the Ministry of Justice to implement the related
measures agreed as part of the Coroners & Justice Act 2009 which will
strengthen the effectiveness of the Treasure Act.
The implementation of the Treasure Act relies on the network of Finds
Liaison Officers in place across England and Wales through the Portable
Antiquities Scheme. We hope that with the future demise of the MLA it will
be possible to transfer the Scheme to the management of the British Museum
with sufficient resources to ensure that the Scheme is able to maintain its
This follows on from a letter from the officers of the All Party
Parliamentary Archaeology Group published in 'The Times' on Saturday (9th
October) which reads:
You report (8 October) the sale at auction, to an anonymous buyer for £2m,
of a Roman helmet discovered by a metal detectorist at Crosby Garrett in
Cumbria. This was six times more than the pre-auction estimate and,
unfortunately, considerably above the £1.65m raised by the Tullie House
Museum in Carlisle, in a short time and with strong local and national
support, in the hope of the museum being able to acquire the helmet.
Surely an object of this archaeological importance should go to a public
museum, preferably within the region where it was found. There is, however,
a deficiency in the legislation intended to secure this. A review of the
Treasure Act was due in 2007 and is now clearly overdue. The Act has worked
well in many circumstances, for example with the Staffordshire Hoard. We
believe, however, that the definition of treasure should be extended without
further delay to ensure that the public interest is more reliably
safeguarded in the future. This can be done by order and does not require
Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn (Chair, All Party Parliamentary Archaeology
Lord Howarth of Newport (Vice Chair)
Lord Redesdale (Secretary)
House of Lords
London SW1 0PW"
The CBA is encouraging everyone to use the new DCMS facility to put email
questions to Ed Vaizey (see
http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/news_stories/7476.aspx) to ask for a
timetable for the Government review of the Treasure Act.
It would also be helpful to ask your local MP to raise this with DCMS as
Ministers are then obliged to respond.
APPAG officers are also seeking an opportunity for a debate on these issues
in the House of Lords.
Dr Mike Heyworth MBE, Director, Council for British Archaeology
St Mary's House, 66 Bootham, York YO30 7BZ, UK
tel 01904 671417, fax 01904 671384, web www.britarch.ac.uk
A Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England 1760254 &
Registered Charity 287815. Join CBA/YAC at www.britarch.ac.uk/shop