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Want Treasure? Go to Cheshire

Coroners have confirmed that more and more treasure is being discovered across Cheshire. According to the Treasure Act, which was introduced in 1997, treasure is defined as objects or artefacts that are older than 300 years.

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This includes coins, prehistoric metallic objects, and artefacts made of at least 10 percent precious metal, such as gold or silver. Recent figures released by the Ministry of Justice indicate a significant rise in the number of cases related to treasure heard at the coroner’s court in Cheshire, England.

Treasure on the up

In 2022, 18 treasure inquests were held at Cheshire Coroner’s Court, a notable increase from the 11 cases in the previous year. This surge marks a rise of over 63 percent in just one year.

Treasure
If you want to find treasure it would seem Cheshire is the place to be!

Over the past decade, nearly 100 treasure finds have been reported to the relevant authorities, showcasing the growing interest and activity in treasure hunting.

Keith Westcott, founder of the Institute of Detectorists, believes that the lockdown periods played a significant role in the increased interest in metal detecting. With people spending more time at home during the pandemic, many sought outdoor activities, and metal detecting provided an exciting and engaging choice.

detectorist
The medieval ring was found in a potato field.

Westcott estimates that only about 10 percent of the found treasures are actually recorded, highlighting the need for better documentation to preserve the archaeological record of the area.

Important Finds

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“People see these finds as objects of interest, but in reality, it is part of an archaeological record of the area it was found in,” said Westcott. “There has to be an understanding of the context around whatever is found.”

One remarkable discovery occurred in 2016 when Patricia Richmond found a 700-year-old ring in Houghton Green, near Peel Hall Farm. Warrington Coroner’s Court confirmed that the ring likely dated back to the 14th century. Richmond recounted the experience, stating, “The field had just had potatoes taken out the night before, so we spoke to the farmer’s father who said they were going to plough it, so we went really early before they were ready to start ploughing.

Ring
The chance finding of a ring was quite a scoop in Cheshire.

As luck would have it, I found the ring. I was very calm actually – I just don’t get excited; I’d have a heart attack otherwise.”

Treasure Act

The Ministry of Justice reported a steady increase in the number of treasure finds reported since the implementation of the Treasure Act in 1997, up until 2017. However, since 2018, the numbers have become more volatile, influenced by the restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, there has been a significant surge in metal detecting activity during and after the pandemic.

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An update to the Treasure Act is currently underway, aiming to redefine “treasure” as objects that are more than 200 years old instead of the current threshold of 300 years. This adjustment reflects the evolving understanding of historical significance and ensures that valuable discoveries from a broader time frame can be properly categorised and preserved.

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As the interest in metal detecting and treasure hunting continues to grow, it becomes increasingly important to strike a balance between public engagement, responsible exploration, and the preservation of historical context.

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