An embarrassment of riches

29 Nov 2012 12:55 PM | Anonymous

An embarrassment of riches

The UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme is struggling to cope with the huge number of artefacts found by the public

Metal detecting rallies, where hundreds of people congregate on a site at the same time, create a major challenge. Above, The Isle of Wight Metal Detecting Club

Archaeologists in England and Wales are struggling to cope with the number of artefacts discovered by members of the public. Nearly 100,000 finds were made last year and reported to authorities, the largest amount since in 1997, when a system for voluntarily recording objects found in the ground was introduced.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), now in its 15th year, processes items discovered by the public to which the State has no claim. Only finders of items classed as Treasure are legally obliged to report them so that museums can buy them if they are able to raise the funds (see box). But the number of people, in particular metal detector users, willing to report objects that are not Treasure has surprised archaeologists.

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