Saturday, June 29, 2013

6/29/13 - Antiquities Scheme & Treasure Act & Beach Find

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Here is a 14K and ruby or garnet ring recently found on a Treasure Coast beach.

A lot of different kinds of things are being found now - old and new.

The hot weather is bringing out the swimmers and boaters.

I'm informed that it is no longer permissible to pick up Native American artifacts on the beach.  One lady picked up a couple of  artifacts recently while collecting shells and materials for crafts not knowing that they were artifacts.   I didn't know either until she showed me and I did some research, mostly asking people that are smarter about such things than I.  

People don't know what to do when they see them.  I have not yet been able to find out where you are supposed to report beach artifacts like that these days.   I'll tell you when I find out.  I guess you take a camera, and take a picture, but leave them where they are.  I hope to have a more intelligent answer for you in the future.

The low tide was good and low this morning.  I was surprised by how low it was. 

One beach I saw was puffed up and mushy out front.  The beach where iron  copper and other objects were found was firm.  There was a thin layer of sand over a layer of shells.  The top layer of sand was being removed.

I saw a salvage boat working on the Nieves site this morning.

The surf was about as smooth as it gets.

One of the reader's of this blog, Russ P., while vacationing in London went into a museum and saw a display detailing how finds of possible archaeological significance are handled in England.  Russ sent a picture of the display to me, so I did a little additional research and will present some of that today.

Before I start, I want to say that I have not spent a great deal of time studying the details and will gladly accept correction where it is needed.  I'll describe what I think are some of the most significant features of the British system below. 

I know that some of this blog's readers are like Russ and travel and might want to know about this too.

First of all, they provide a network of reporting centers, many of which are in museums.  The reporting centers provide assistance in helping finders identify their finds and then log data into a database for all finds that meet the criteria.  They widely publish procedures so people know what to do and where to go when they find something that might be of significance.

The British system does not claim everything and anything imaginable.  The British want to see found items not considered to be "treasure" so they can log it, but unlike Florida, they make no claim to it unless it meets the criteria to be defined as "treasure."  The staff will determine if the item might be important.  The staff may ask for permission to further study the item.  You would receive a receipt for anything you leave with them and they will not make information about you or your find public if you do not want them to.  They will keep private the exact location of finds, but academic researchers can receive information and detailed grid references.

They cite the purpose of the Portable Antiquities Scheme as making " much of the information as widely available as possible, while protecting archaeological sites from damage."  The Portable Antiquities Recording Scheme is entirely voluntary and encourages people to report their finds.

For more detailed information on the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the Treasure Act (discussed below), here is a link.

(The site also has some other neat information that you might want to look at.)

They define "treasure" to include objects that are at least 10% gold or silver AND are AT LEAST 300 years old when found.  This to me is key.  It does not include everything and anything that might be found up to the present day and does not include items that may belong to or be traced to living persons.  Treasure is also defined to include items associated with the above, for example containers.

Items less than 300 years old are included if they are made substantially of gold or silver, were "buried with the intention of recovery and their owner or their heirs cannot be traced."

Treasure also includes prehistoric objects made of base-metal up to and including the Iron Age.

Single coins found on their own are not considered to be "treasure."  Neither are unworked natural objects or objects when the owner can be traced.

Objects from the foreshore (between the high and low tide line) that come from a wreck, fall under another category and are governed by laws relating to salvage of wrecks.  Objects found on the foreshore that do not come from a wreck may be defined as treasure if they meet the criteria.

Finders are reminded that under section 8 of the Act they are required to report only the objects they believe, or have reasonable grounds for believing; to be treasure. If in any doubt finders are advised to seek expert advice. 

If the find is declared to be Treasure then it will be valued, on behalf of the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), by a committee of independent experts. If there are no objections to this valuation, DCMS will invoice the museum wishing to acquire the object and on receipt of payment will pay the finder a reward. The level of this reward will be set by the coroner, but will not exceed the independent experts' valuation.

If the find is declared not to be Treasure, or if no museum wishes to acquire it, then it will be disclaimed. The coroner will then notify all interested parties, such as the owner of the land where the object was found, of his intention to return the find to the finder. If no objections are raised to this then the find will be returned.

I am no an expert on this and have not described all details fully and accurately. I simply believe that the above presents many good elements.  I think it would result in a good relationship between the public and academics, encourage cooperation, promote the gathering and information.

If you want to correct anything I said, or discuss positive or negative aspects of the British system send me an email.  Let me know what you think is good and bad about this.   

On the Treasure Coast the next low tide will be about 8 PM.  I would suspect it will not be much different than this morning.  With the continuing wind from the southwest, not much will change.

This morning there were a good number of shells, some sea glass, pieces of copper, iron shipwreck spikes and pieces of fossils on the beach.

The surf will pick up a little Monday.  Until then, there is plenty out there.  I didn't even mention the beach goers.

Happy hunting,