Recent Treasures of Cumbria
by Heather Ballantyne
Local History Society welcomed one of its own members, Professor Ian
Carradice, to tell us about “Recent Treasures of Cumbria”.
Ian chose The
Coinage of the Roman Empire to study at St. Andrews University and
has since been on the Treasure Valuation Committee, which has the job
of valuing all the treasure found in England, Wales and Northern
First of all we were
asked “What is Treasure”? This can be anything that is meaningful
to you but for this evening we were to learn about what is officially
called treasure. It started in the middle ages when it was a means
for the crown to obtain money. If anything of value was lost, when it
was found it belonged to the crown. It was a way of the King making
In 1996 Treasure was redefined and It is all about metal, mainly gold
or silver. Anything pre Roman made of any metal is considered
treasure. Post Roman it has to contain some gold or silver. It also
has to be that the owner or their descendants cannot be found. The
Treasure Valuation Committee only deals with items that are wanted by
a museum. If a museum wishes to buy found items the finder of the
treasure is given a reward to the value decided by the committee.
When a person finds an item it must be declared to the local coroner.
Many people think that they own what they find but this is not so,
and they are not entitled to keep anything found until the decision
has been made by the coroner. If a museum is not interested the item
is given back to the finder; if a museum is interested, the finder
gets the market value of the find and they are not allowed to keep
the item. It does not belong to them.
We looked at
photographs of treasure found in Cumbria over the last few years.
Only about 1% of treasure valued under the Valuations Committees'
jurisdiction is found in Cumbria every year. This is probably because
we have more sheep than people and it has always been so.
We were passed an
old Roman silver coin from the 1st century to
look at and
asked to consider its value then and now. (At the end of the meeting
we discovered this was the same – the price of a sheep).
We looked at the
Crosby Garret Helmut find. It was not treasure as it did not fall
within the category because it had been restored before it was
declared. If it had been taken to a museum in pieces, as it was
found, it would have been treasure but as it had been put back
together it was a single item and therefore not treasure. It was
undeniably an important item which is now in private hands. To cover
this event happening again the law will have to be changed.
An interesting evening learning about treasure trove.