Schemes for checking finds by amateurs face 15% cuts as Arts Council gets responsibility for regional museums
The agencies that handle archaeological finds, many from amateurs with metal detectors, will become part of the British Museum, their future assured as the government dismantles the Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA) quango.
The fate of the treasure and portable antiquities schemes was disclosed as they today report their annual audit of finds, another rich haul of gold coins, silver goblets, a 3,000-year-old bracelet found by a man clearing stones in a field in northern Ireland and a 400-year-old toy coach which came out of the mud of the Thames foreshore.
However the two schemes, which maintain a national network of finds officers, will lose 15% of their £1.4m budget over the next four years, like the British Museum itself.
Culture minister Ed Vaizey also said, as he launched the latest Treasure report which covers 806 reported finds in 2008, that the MLA responsibility for regional museums and libraries will be transferred as anticipated to the Arts Council – but it is far from clear how the council, which has taken a much heavier 30% cut, will cope with the additional responsibility. Future responsibility for archives is also still unclear – they will not become part of the Arts Council portfolio.
Wales will also have to take responsibility for its own treasure and other antiquity finds – likely to cause many tricky decisions in the rich archaeological landscape along the border, or finds by English detectorists going into Wales.