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Treasured Finds

26 February 2019 by Vanessa

While all objects in museum collections are highly valued for the information they tell us about our shared past and culture, just a few are also officially classed as ‘Treasure’! While this is a romantic term, it’s also a closely defined group of objects made from precious metals, or prehistoric metal objects.

At the Museum of Liverpool some of the objects brought into our collections as Treasure include the impressive Roman Cheshire Hoards as well as small personal items.

Gold and cobalt blue glass finger ring dating to the 14th century.

Gold and cobalt blue glass finger ring dating to the 14th century.

The government has opened an important consultation on proposed changes to the Treasure Act and a review of the treasure process. So what is the ‘Treasure Act’ and what does it mean for us?

Anyone who finds objects which are more than 10% precious metals and over 300 years old, or which are prehistoric metal objects, needs to report them as ‘Treasure’. Groups of gold or silver coins are also Treasure.

Treasure must be reported to the local coroner within 14 days. This is usually done through the local Finds Liaison Officer (FLO). For Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside the FLO is based at the Museum of Liverpool and runs finds days in museums across the counties where treasure and other finds can be recorded. There is a national database of over a million finds recorded this way – search to see what’s been found near you!

When Treasure is found by a member of the public, local museums have an opportunity to acquire the object or objects for their collections.

The volume of Treasure cases has risen from its introduction in 1997, which saw 79 cases, to 1,267 cases of treasure which were reported during 2017! Currently 11,725 Treasure finds have been recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s database from the North West. There are several proposed changes to the Treasure Act which aim to speed up the process so that it is more efficient. Proposals have also been made to create new categories of Treasure to protect more objects under that classification, for example:

  • A single gold coin dated between AD43 and 1344 would become Treasure (currently two gold coins found together qualify as Treasure)
  • Two base metal objects of Roman date found buried together would qualify as Treasure

The consultation also aims to look at the overall processes and sustainability.

Due to the Treasure Act Museum of Liverpool collections have been enhanced allowing us to share these discoveries with the public and tell the stories of those who came before us. For example in 2007, with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we acquired the Huxley Hoard of Viking silver.

 

If you would like to express your views on the proposed changes join in the consultation which runs until 11:45pm on the 30th of April 2019

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