History of Detecting

OUR HERITIAGE NEEDS DETECTORS!

"The unsung heroes of the UK’s heritage....."

This is what David Lammy, the Minister for Culture said as he praised the role responsible metal detectorists are playing in preserving the country’s heritage by reporting their finds through the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). Treasure finds have increased threefold and 95% of these finds have been found by metal detector owners. Detectorists are finding more than ever before and more of it is ending up in our local, regional and national museums.

The extent of the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s learning and outreach work is a testament to its success. Satisfaction that the Scheme is meeting its aims has dramaticallyimproved since 2004. It is impressive that in 2005/6 the Finds Liaison Officers have talked to over 13,390 people about finds and their importance for understanding our past. 86 per cent of finders who attended Portable Antiquities Scheme Conservation Workshops said they had learned something new and had been inspired.

Further, a monthly average of 14,405 people visited the Portable Antiquities Scheme website (www.finds.org.uk) in 2005/6. Together, this outreach work demonstrates that the Scheme has enormous potential to reach new and varied audiences.

It is a priority of my department to enhance access to culture for children and give them the opportunity to develop their talents to the full and enjoy the benefits of participation. It is therefore particularly encouraging that this year the Scheme offered 5,439 children a different and exciting opportunity to learn and get involved. I experienced this first hand in October 2005 when I launched the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s children’s website – PAStexplorers (www.pastexplorers.org.uk) – an innovative learning resource aimed at 7 to 11 year olds. The fact that 77 per cent of children who experienced the educational work of the Scheme said they understood more about things from a long time ago shows the benefits of this type of learning.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme offers the only proactive mechanism for recording archaeological finds found by the public, without which information about these finds would be lost, to the detriment of archaeological knowledge. It is indeed remarkablethat the Scheme’s Finds Liaison Officers have recorded a further 57,556 objects in 2005/6; a two-fold increase on 2003/4. In no small part this is due to the 5,855 people who have offered finds for recording this year. Of these, 59 per cent were brought forward by metal detector users.

David Lammy, Minister for Culture November 2006
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