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Archaeological finds 'up by 45%'

17 January 07 15:43 GMT

Archaeological finds in the UK have risen by 45% as a result of continuous work by metal detector enthusiasts, according to a report.

In 2005/2006, there were 57,566 finds reported to the government-funded Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) compared with 39,933 in 2004/2005.

Culture Secretary David Lammy praised the "responsible approach" of amateur metal detectorists in reporting finds.

He said they were the "unsung heroes of the UK's heritage".

Speaking at the British Museum on Wednesday, he said: "Thanks to the responsible approach they display in reporting finds and the systems we have set up to record them, more archaeological material is available for all to see at museums or to study online.

"It is through the work of metal detectorists that we are encouraging the next generation to be interested in our history."

Roman dog

The number of "treasure finds" - gold and silver items more than 300 years old - is also up from 426 in the previous year to 506.

Significant finds in 2005/2006 include a series of Viking silver bracelets buried in Cheshire and a fourth century Roman copper-alloy dog found on the Isle of Wight.

Children's illustrator Alan Rowe said the Roman dog figurine was the "nicest object" he had unearthed in 25 years of making finds.

Because the dog, worth up to £600, is made of copper-alloy and not gold or silver it does not qualify as a treasure find.

Under the Treasure Act 1996, people who find gold and silver objects more then 300 years old have a legal obligation to report them to the authorities.

Despite the act, thousands of items claiming to be treasure appear on auction websites.

Many of these items were fake, a spokesman for the National Council for Metal Detecting said.

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