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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 07:11 GMT
Buried treasure finds on the increase
Roman coins found in the UK
Most treasure in the UK is found by amateurs
There has been a big increase in the amount of buried treasure being discovered around Britain, according to official figures published on Wednesday.

Last year more than 200 treasure hordes were unearthed - a nine-fold increase on the figure of 10 years ago, the second Treasure Annual Report has found.


The reporting and preservation of treasure is vital to our understanding of our shared history

Culture Secretary Chris Smith

Most of the finds were made by amateurs using metal detectors. Only 5% were unearthed on archaeological digs and another 5% were accidentally uncovered by walkers or by farmers ploughing their fields.

According to the report, Norfolk, Suffolk, Wiltshire and North Yorkshire yielded the most treasure.

Under present law, any finds of gold and silver more than 300 years old are "Treasure Trove" and must be declared and valued by the government's Treasure Valuation Committee.

All such finds ultimately belong to the Crown.

In the past it was difficult for the finder to benefit from any subsequent sale, but five years ago the law was updated and it is now easier to make money from unearthed treasure.

History

This accounts for the massive increase in buried artefacts coming to light.

Finds last year included two Bronze Age gold neck-rings, unearthed in Chickerell in Dorset and valued at 110,000.

The British museum paid 50,000 for a 700-year-old silver-gilt statuette of a saint uncovered in Buntingford, Hertfordshire.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith said: "The reporting and preservation of treasure is vital to our understanding of our shared history.

"This report shows that the Treasure Act is ensuring more and more of our history is being preserved for the education and enjoyment of the public, now and in the future."

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