The government plans to change the official definition of “treasure” for more rare and valuable archaeological finds so that such works of art can be preserved for the country instead of being sold to private collectors.
Under the Treasury Act of 1996, treasures are defined as items that are more than 300 years old and are made of gold or silver or precious metals.
Once officially recognized as a treasure, such objects become the property of the crown and are taken over by local or national museums for public display.
But this medieval view of treasure does not encompass many of the major discoveries of the 21st century. The discovery of metal produced increased material from it Roman Britain They do not meet the standards because they are often made of bronze rather than precious metals.
In addition, the Department of Culture said some items of national importance could be lost to the public or sold to private collectors.
Recent discoveries include the stunning bronze-enameled horse brooch Leasingham Horse Dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD, a detective in Lincolnshire discovered this year. The brooch, which recreates earlier designs of the Iron Age, is a rare example and of national importance, yet it could not be considered a treasure. However, thanks to the er generosity of the finder, it is on display Collection Museum At Lincoln.
An unusually rare copper-alloy Roman statue adorned with a hood, a Byrus Britannicus, Found near Chelseford, Essex, lost in public view. Here the government stepped in and introduced a deferred export license that delayed sales. The Chelmsford City Museum was able to raise funds to purchase the statue.
Plans for a new definition of the fund will ensure that significant discoveries can be made, whether historically or culturally significant, regardless of material merits.
Announcing the plans, Culture Minister Carolyn Dinaj said: “The search for treasures buried by emerging detectives is more popular than ever, and many ancient artifacts are now in the museum’s collection. However, it is important that we follow plans to further preserve our precious history and make the treasure process easier for everyone to follow. ”
Finders, landowners, museums and members of the public were invited to attend the consultation process, which led to government proposals. Detectives, archaeologists, museums, academies and curators will have the opportunity to contribute to the new definition. Plans will also be presented to streamline the funding process.
The popularity of metal discovery as a hobby increased from just 79 in 1997 to 1,267 in 2017. In 2017, 96% of the discoveries made by the treasure were made through metal discoveries.
Suggestions were welcomed by the British Museum. “Working with us is welcome [culture department] As we move forward with treasury law reform efforts to preserve our shared heritage and promote better training in discoveries, ”said Michael Lewis, Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasures.
Roger Blunt, chairman of the Treasury Appraisal Committee, welcomed the announcement that more work was needed to “ensure that the most important discoveries can be preserved” for fund redefining.