The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) exists to record objects found by members of the public and enter them onto an online database. Since it began in 1997, PAS has recorded over 750,000 objects of all periods of history from Palaeolithic flints to eighteenth-century coins and has become an important source of new archaeological data to be used by students and academics in their research. Initially based on a small group of pilot regions, recording was extended to cover the whole of England and Wales in 2003, at which point Oxfordshire became a part of the Scheme with the employment of a local Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) in the county. Alongside recording ordinary objects, PAS also deals with objects which come under remits of the Treasure Act 1996, which include gold and silver artefacts and coin hoards.
The Ashmolean has been officially involved with the PAS since 2004 when the Scheme’s ‘National Finds Advisor for Medieval and Post-medieval Coinage’ became a part of our Heberden Coin Room. A further strengthening of the ties between the Ashmolean and PAS came with the re-opening of the museum in 2009 when the Coin Room and Department of Antiquities started a monthly ‘identification service’ for artefacts and coinage, at which the Oxfordshire FLO also attends. Through this service, PAS has recorded hundreds of objects, many of which would probably not have come to PAS’s attention in any other way. The importance of PAS and local finds to the Ashmolean can be seen in the displays of local material around the museum, especially the ‘England 400-1600’ and ‘Money’ galleries, the latter housing a set of drawers including a range of finds made by a local metal-detectorist.
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