Page last updated at 18:15 GMT, Friday, 8 February 2008

Treasure hunting in Bradford

Metal detectors
Detectors hunt for treasure
The BBC's Richard Westcott goes metal detecting in Yorkshire.

Someone in Bradford's lost their keys. I found them this morning with the help of the Two Dales metal detecting club. We also found something a lot more adult, although I can't tell you what because this is a family website.

Treasure amongst rubbish

But it's not all rubbish. In amongst the cans and bits of car aerial lies treasure. The club brought along 2,000 year old bronze axe heads, Roman brooches, all types of coins, even a 20,000 year old flint axe head, although they had to use their eyes to find that one, obviously.

All these finds are officially registered thanks to something called the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Funded with government cash, it means thousands of amateurs armed with metal detectors, get to show their treasure to experts at museums across the country.

New Roman sites

In the 10 years it's been running the scheme's registered 300,000 ancient objects, unearthed 24 new Roman sites in Wiltshire alone, and found Anglo Saxon cemeteries in Derbyshire, Suffolk and Warwickshire.

Jean Swainston
Jean Swainston from Two Dales metal detecting club

But now they're worried its budget might be cut.

Jean Swainston from "Two Dales" told me "without the scheme none of the data would be recorded for everyone to see. All my life I've been interested in history and the idea of not getting hands-on help in advising finders on what they've found, would be a great loss."

Funding cut fears

The PAS grant is controlled by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council which has just had its funding cut over the next 3 years.

The fear is that cut will filter down, although the MLA did tell us the grant's good for another year at least and they want to keep the scheme going because it's "successful and popular".

Treasure hunter
The hunt continues

Even so, around 200 MPs have signed an early day motion to safeguard its future and our past.

Earlier this morning I thought I'd found something huge, the detector started buzzing like a Rolf Harris stylophone. It turned out to be the metal in my boots.

If you live in Bradford and you've lost your keys, or anything else, do get in touch.


Dr Mike Heyworth MBE from York e-mailed us about this story. What other subjects do you want to talk about? Send us your suggestions using the link below.




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