Regular readers will know that in December I announced the findings of the annual Treasure Report in line with my responsibilities as Heritage Minister – and you can read about that here: https://www.michaelellis.co.uk/news/michael-goes-treasure-hunting.
Having looked carefully at the current law with regards to treasure since I became Heritage Minister I have now announced new proposals to redefine “treasure” in order to secure the long-term preservation of valuable pieces of history in this country. The recent report noted that there have been a record number of treasure finds, mostly by people using metal detectors, which is an increasingly popular pastime.
Currently, the Treasure rules mean that certain artefacts of great archaeological and cultural importance are being lost to private sellers rather than being displayed in museums because they do not meet the current narrow definition of treasure. The current definition is that treasure is a find more than 300 years old consisting of gold, silver or another precious metal where an owner cannot be found.
The proposal is to widen this definition to include artefacts of any substance which is worth more than £10,000. This will give museums a better chance of acquiring objects for the public to enjoy. One example of a problem with the current definition is when a 1,700 year old Roman era Crosby Garrett helmet which was found in 2010 could not be classed as treasure because it was not made of precious metal- it was sold to a private collector for £2.3 million despite its historical significance.
You can read more about the proposed changes using the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-new-plans-to-protect-treasure-finds.