Museum stories
20 years of Treasure

On 24 September 1997 the common law of treasure trove, in place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for more than 500 years, was replaced by the Treasure Act 1996. This marked a radical change in the fortune of objects found in these countries, allowing thousands of important finds to be acquired by public collections for all to enjoy.

A volunteer working with the Finds Liaison Officer on excavating the Watlington Hoard.

The British Museum has a central role in administering finds from England reported under the Act. As this year marks the 20th anniversary of the commencement of the Act, we are celebrating its success with a season of Treasure under the banner of our #Treasure20 campaign, in partnership with The Telegraph.

The Vale of York Hoard.

The Telegraph has kicked off the campaign by inviting readers to choose their favourite Treasure find of the last 20 years, from a shortlist of 20 compiled by a panel of expert judges:

Michael Lewis – Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum
Mary-Ann Ochota – anthropologist, author and broadcaster
Steve Trow – Director of Research for Historic England
Mike Heyworth – Chairman of the Council for British Archaeology
Edward Besly – numismatist and Assistant Keeper at National Museum Wales
Tim Pestell – Curator of Archaeology collections at Norwich Castle Museum
Keith Miller – journalist for The Telegraph

Objects from the Ashwell Hoard.

The judges had a spirited debate as they discussed the virtues of a host of Treasure finds, but eventually they selected their 20, based on these criteria:

1. The find should advance archaeological knowledge, whether that be of a particular period of time or for the locality in which it was found.
2. The find should have been recovered in a way that is an example of best practice. (For more information, see the Code of Practice for responsible detecting.)
3. The find should add value to the national collection, whether that be of a national or local museum.

Coins from the Hackney Hoard.

Now it’s your chance to decide which of the top 20 deserves to be number one! Visit the Telegraph website to cast your vote before 14 May 2017.


For news and events relating to the #Treasure20 celebration, follow the hashtag on Twitter and check out the #Treasure20 webpage.