DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT
DCMS 284/98 19 November 1998
ALAN HOWARTH SETS OUT TREASURE ACT SUCCESSES
Six-fold increase in number of declared 'finds' since Act became law
The number of 'finds' declared as treasure trove has increased
six-fold since the Treasure Act came into force last year, Arts
Minister Alan Howarth announced today.
Speaking at the British Archaeological Awards presentation Alan
"The Treasure Act, which has been in force for just over a year,
has already led to a more than six-fold increase in treasure cases.
The number of declared finds has risen from around 25 a year
previously to 165 in the first year since the Act came into force.
This is significant because some said that the Act would deter people
from reporting their finds while others threatened to swamp the
system by reporting all their finds. Neither has happened - all but
five of the 165 treasure cases are finds of gold and silver objects
which would have been caught under the old law, so the Act seems to
have led to an increased reporting rate."
The Minister also described the new archaeological insights that
have arisen because of the Act. Under the old law base metal finds
were not classed as treasure trove, but the new Act allows items like
bronze coins and copper brooches to be reported, in some cases, for
the first time. This will greatly enhance our understanding of the
Alan Howarth continued:
"We always recognised that the Treasure Act, great improvement
though it is, would still only bring a small proportion of all
archaeological finds within its scope. For this reason we are
funding - with the British Museum - six pilot schemes to promote the
voluntary recording of all archaeological finds made by the public.
After just one year the Finds Liaison Officers have seen some 10,000
objects that would not otherwise have been recorded.
"The pilot schemes are clearly a success and so I have agreed in
principle to extend them until March 2000."
Notes to Editors
1. The Treasure Act 1996 came into force on 24 September 1997. The
Act, together with its supporting Code of Practice, replace common
law precedents and practices dating back more than 750 years.
2. The Treasure Act covers man-made objects and defines treasure
as: Objects other than coins which are at least 300 years old and
contain at least 10 per cent by weight of gold or silver; coins more
than 300 years old which are found in hoards (a minimum of two coins
if the precious metal content is more than ten per cent, and a
minimum of ten coins if the precious metal content is below ten per
cent); all objects found in clear archaeological association with
items which are treasure under the above definitions; and any object
which would have been treasure trove under the previous definitions
(eg hoards of 19th century gold or silver coins).
3. The maximum penalty for failing to report the discovery of
treasure within 14 days will be a #5,000 fine or three months
imprisonment, or both.
4. When a museum or other institution wishes to acquire an item
which has been declared treasure by a Coroner, the finder is paid an
ex-gratia reward. The amount is determined by the Secretary of State
and based on advice from the Treasure Trove Reviewing Committee,
which is to be re-named the Treasure Valuation
Committee. The payment may be reduced or abated if the finder has
concealed the discovery or has excavated on a scheduled monument
without written consent.
5. The Code of Practice (DCMS News Release 21\97) sets out
guidelines on matters including: those objects which should be
reported and where; how finders can seek advice from museums and
archaeologists in the event of a large find; Government policy on
payment of ex-gratia rewards, including agreements with landowners
and finds resulting from trespass; grounds on which rewards may be
reduced or abated; and policy and procedures for reaching valuations,
including the commissioning of reports from independent experts and
provisions for finders to submit their own valuations.
# = pounds sterling