Wednesday, 31 August 2011

It's Treasure

I'm just back from a visit to Lancaster to see Dot Boughton my local FLO (Finds Liaison Officer). I was at the museum to show her the small gold item that I blogged about a week or so back - pictured above as it came out of the ground and below after a rinse with a bit of water. 

The good news is - it's Treasure. And the bad news is - it's Treasure. Under the 1996 Treasure Act all unearthed gold and silver items over three hundred years old are deemed Treasure and must be reported to the coroner who will decide what becomes of them. His, or her, choices are to return it to the finder or to retain it for a museum that wishes to acquire it at their valuation which is then split between the finder and the landowner. 

So what is it? Dot tells me that it is definitely Roman and dates from the first or second century AD. Although many have suggested that it is an earring, she is satisfied that is not wearable as such (from her own experience of pierced earrings) and that it is the clasp and the first two links from a gold bracelet (which was pretty much my own verdict after a couple of weeks Googling). The design is unique and very rare in her opinion. The only items with any similarities that she has been able to research are one from the excavation of Mitchells Brewery in Lancaster (see below) and another found in Germany. She believes that it originated in Europe before finding its way to North West England. Being the first Roman gold artefact she has recorded in her area she was extremely pleased to see it.

Dot pointed out the similarities to this Roman item on display in Lancaster Museum

It is my best detecting find to date and I am truly delighted to have found an artefact that is so rare and important in the FLO's opinion. The only reason that I mentioned bad news is that it seems highly likely that the nearest museum to the find spot will want to have it and I won't have the pleasure of holding it again. Which is nothing to complain about really as I had the thrill of finding it and "owning" it for just under two weeks. I will be interested to hear the coroner's or the British Museum's valuation. The Treasure forms have a convenient box to tick if I am happy to donate it but I'd like to find out what they think it's worth and have to take the farmer's opinion into account as well so I left the box blank for the time being. We can always make that decision in the future. I imagine that it will be some considerable time before the legal proceedings are completed.

Until then it's back to the weekly detecting trips dreaming if some treasure might turn up. It's a wonderful hobby. Here are some of my favourite finds from this year to date.

Charles I Shilling

Romano British Disc Brooch

Roman Coin 

Lion Head Harness Mount

Another Romano British Brooch

Another Roman Coin In Good Condition

My brother's find this one.