REVIEW OF TREASURE TROVE ARRANGEMENTS IN SCOTLAND
MUSEUMS, ARCHAEOLOGISTS AND OTHERS: PERCEPTIONS OF PROCEDURE FROM THE PERIPHERY AND THE CENTRE - THE EXPERIENCE OF TREASURE TROVE AMONG USERS AND KEY PLAYERS
4.1 This chapter presents views on Treasure Trove (TT) from a range of associated perspectives. These include the National Museums of Scotland (NMS), the Scottish Museums Council (SMC), and other museums invited to convey their views and experiences of Treasure Trove. In addition, the Association of Regional and Islands Archaeologists (ARIA) were asked to participate in the review, as were the small number of archaeological contractors who operate in Scotland. The chapter also presents the views of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (SA), and finally the Treasure Trove Advisory Panel (TTAP), supported by concluding comments from the TTAP Secretariat (TTAPS). Their main points are presented below, commencing with the NMS, SMC, and other museums. Thereafter, the position of ARIA is detailed alongside other archaeological groups, and finally, TTAP and TTAPS.
Note on Methodology
4.2 Experiences and understandings of Treasure Trove were mediated through an oral and/or written format. Whilst meetings had been convened with several bodies (some submitting a written response in addition), others received letters requesting information corresponding to the remit of the review. Methods of information gathering are summarised below (Table 2).
Table 2: Bodies Consulted in Review Process
Society of Antiquaries
Meeting & Written Note
Meeting & Written Response
Meeting & Written Response
Meeting & Written Response
Table 2 : Bodies Consulted in Review Process
4.3 Participants in the review did not receive a questionnaire or engage in any structured interview. Thus the information gathering exercise was conducted differently to the finders' survey, though some replication of the themes addressed with finders was necessary. Rather, the methods of information gathering allowed the participants referred to above, to respond in a flexible, in-depth manner, guided but not restricted by the headings: General; Finding and Reporting; Claiming and Allocation; Valuation and Reward, and Other.
4.4 Meetings were conducted with the following: SMC, NMS and ARIA. These were held at various locations with the Q<R and formed an important component of the review.
4.5 Approximately 200 letters were sent to museums across Scotland, with a response of 19. Museums received a letter, which outlined the proposed review and invited them to express their views about the system and suggestions for improvement. They were asked to record their responses under the following headings: General; Finding and Reporting; Claiming and Allocation; Valuation and Reward, and Other. Others who received letters (archaeological contractors, and the Society of Antiquaries) were invited to respond in a similar format.
4.6 The low response from museums restricts the wider application of findings to only those that responded rather than the museum community as a whole. Specifically, the findings cannot be generalised to the larger population of Scottish museums. However, the SMC response is valuable in this respect, and provides more robust indicators of common themes among museums. It should also be noted that given that the SMC convened to discuss the review as a representative museum body, it might be that some museums elected to express their views through that particular forum rather than through an individualised response. The corollary of this is that there may also be some duplication of contributions through both the SMC forum and separate museum responses.
4.7 Data from museums and archaeological contractors' written responses were analysed thematically, with responses coded by references to the headings. These references were organised in terms of similarity and contrasting content. Other data from associations' meetings, some supported by written responses, is presented in summary format.
4.8 Responses from museums and archaeological contractors have been anonymised to conceal the identities of contributors.
National Museums of Scotland
4.9 There was a discussion of the role of the NMS. Reference was made to the mission of the NMS, which is "to provide Scotland with a national museum service of international standing, which preserves and enhances the collections in its care and promotes research on them . . .". The organisation's new outline vision was also mentioned, this being "to provide a world class museums service for the people of Scotland, visitors and other audiences", which comprises inter alia "a distinct national role in leading the museums sector in Scotland" and "the effective development, management and interpretation of the national collections". It was felt important to promote the NMS more effectively as a "national" museum, rather than an Edinburgh one.
4.10 The NMS representatives drew attention to the NMS response to the National Audit Action Plan consultation. That contains, for example, reference to the need to put in place "an effective and realistic strategic framework", "effective partnership working between groups of museums" and "the sharing of expertise by NMS". In the context of TT the NMS representatives confirmed the willingness and commitment of the NMS to share its expertise across the sector, which could most effectively work in new ways through partnership. Reference was made to examples of recognition that ownership need not determine access - such as the joint ownership arrangement, which was made in respect of one of the most notable TT finds in recent years. Reference was also made to a partnership approach with a local authority in relation to the ownership and care of excavation assemblages and significant finds emanating from that area.
4.11 The NMS confirmed its continuing interest in acquiring some TT finds, for example some objects of national or international importance, but made the point that being of national importance does not mean that all such objects have to go to the NMS. The difficulty of actually defining "national importance" was acknowledged. The comment was made that, contrary to apparent perceptions, the NMS does not claim - and even if it does - does not get many finds. There is recognition of the appropriateness of some material being held near its place of origin. Mention was made of what might be regarded as a "long stop" role of the NMS in acquiring material through TT for which no other museum bids, but which merits curation in perpetuity. In such cases the material may be made available to an appropriate local museum for display.
4.12 The importance of the outcome of the museums strategy review to the NMS and its relationships with other Scottish museums, and to the TT arrangements was emphasised.
4.13 Turning to the organisational arrangements for TT, the NMS raised several points pivotal to the administration of TT, a common denominator being lack of clarity. They noted that the various agencies involved in TT administration - Scottish Executive, Crown Office, Treasure Trove Advisory Panel, museums, and finders - have ambiguous roles and responsibilities. In this respect, clarification was deemed necessary. On a similar theme, the issue of line management was raised in relation to TTAPS staff. Moreover, the authority by which the TTAP has generated work for the Secretariat seemed unclear. Two suggestions were made. Firstly, that NMS could deliver an agreed fixed cost service with full management responsibilities passed to the NMS. Alternatively, that TTAPS could become Crown Office employees. In the latter case the NMS would provide accommodation and related services.
4.14 It was suggested that the TTAPS become an independent unit within the national museum. This proposal was driven by a perception of the TTAPS as having an NMS bias because it was seen as operating under the auspices of the NMS Archaeology Department.
4.15 The NMS response also indicated that some rationale was required around the constitution of the Panel (TTAP). In particular, its duties need defining more broadly and beyond that of "advising the Crown Agent" with regard to valuations and allocations, as is the case at present. In addition, they questioned whether the Panel membership should be restricted to the museum community, especially as conflicts of interest can arise. Suggestions for a more differentiated constitution included other informed experts, without museum allegiance particularisms, and also a member of the public.
4.16 Resource issues were highlighted as being of particular significance and several points were made in relation to these. Specifically, funding for such activities as outreach, in tandem with publicity for the effective operation of the system was considered insufficient. The NMS reasoned that effective outreach would facilitate improved partnership between museums, help change finders' attitudes to reporting, and heighten the profile of TT generally.
4.17 Finally, there was thought to be useful potential in appointing liaison officers for finds, with a similar role to Finds' Liaison Officers in England and Wales. The main benefits of replicating this role in some way would be to facilitate outreach, and to promote better relations around the local/national issue. This would also help to offset any perceived Edinburgh bias and promote TT as national. Again, this approach would need to be looked at in association with the proposed museums' Action Plan.
Scottish Museums Council
4.18 The SMC convened to discuss the review and all SMC members were invited. Consensus emerged around particular themes, discussed below.
4.19 General comments about TT were that although there have been high profile disagreements about allocations by the TTAP, matters have very much improved in recent years. They emphasised that the main problems revolve less around allocation and more around public interface issues. An underlying problem that emerged from SMC's consultation was that the system was considered under-resourced at all stages. Insufficient resources culminated in blockages in the processing of material, alongside inadequate transportation and conservation.
4.20 On finding and reporting, a critical comment was that the length of time between reporting and disposition of finds remains a problem. In addition, because the system is so centralised, museum curators are unable to exercise discretion in deciding whether or not an item should be considered for TT. This not only lengthens the process but also frustrates the finders who are looking for ongoing information from the TTAP and TTAPS. It was suggested that there would be some benefit in providing finders with copies of letters sent to relevant institutions, at the same time. This would present finders with an outline and explanation of what happens. SMC also felt that published lists of finds and allocations would be valuable.
4.21 SMC observed that there are no published criteria for claiming TT and this was considered problematic, in particular making it difficult for museums to offer advice. They reflected that many people had thought that whether an item is claimed is the decision of the TTAP. In reality however, the decision to recommend claiming lies with the TTAPS. They strongly recommended that the criteria on what will be claimed as TT should be clarified, and that there should be more lucidity around the decision making process involving the TTAP.
4.22 On the theme of bidding, SMC were of the opinion that it should be possible for more information to be offered prior to bidding through the use of new technology, for example, via digital images. On the issue of assemblages, they felt that these should be kept together, although they recognised that there have been difficulties in terms of storage space and access.
4.23 The idea of establishing a network of Finds Liaison Officers, based in local museums, evoked a positive response. It was suggested that these officers could be proactive in publicising the scheme and providing advice. However, the associated resource requirements would be considerable.
4.24 On claiming and allocation several points were underlined. In general, museums have accepted that, although there will inevitably remain some high profile contentious cases, the system of allocation works well. There may still be a need for clearer expression of the guidelines to reflect the current practice that there is no presumption of allocation in favour of the NMS. The question remains, however, of the circumstances in which the NMS should have priority. That raises a much bigger issue than falls to be encompassed in this review - namely the role of the NMS in the 21 st century.
4.25 The point was made that contested bids are not necessarily between the NMS and the local museum, but can be between two non-national museums. It was suggested that this reinforced the SMC recommendation that there ought to be an effort to harmonise collecting policies, for example, through joint ownership. However, this raised questions about the archive expertise and storage capacity of museums.
4.26 It was suggested that the condition of objects could be problematic because few (if any) museums undertake conservation work before reporting to the TTAPS because all items are deemed Crown property. As pressure for local allocation grows there was concern that the condition issue might become significant. In this respect, the responsibilities of the NMS require clarification.
4.27 There were two main issues around valuation and reward. One was that few finders were actually motivated by financial rewards, rather they convey some "emotional investment" in their finds. A further issue related to affordability since it seems that acquisition budgets are minimal. The problem of insufficient resources is endemic. There are not enough resources for adequate conservation, storage, display, and research. Indeed it was noted that some museums are unable to bid for assemblages through the Finds Disposal Panel (FDP) due to lack of storage space.
4.28 Additional topics raised by SMC included reference to the introduction of a formal offence for trading in illicit objects. Also, that there needed to be some means of establishing that when items are allocated as TT, they are being properly looked after post-allocation. SMC also proposed that it might be sensible in the long term to merge the Finds Disposal Panel and TTAP to address resource issues, although they reflected that an alternative approach might be to improve the current TT process. There was however, unanimous recognition for the work of the current TTAPS, and it was noted that most of the problems identified above are a result of insufficient resources, as opposed to either error or dysfunction.
4.29 Museums expressed mixed views about TT, but some replication of themes emerged. Several of those who replied were not familiar with TT because they lacked experience on account of the nature of their collections. In addition a few had very limited experience or only some, while the remainder had extensive experience of the TT procedure. Responses highlight areas of concern by drawing attention to many themes, most of which had been raised by the SMC. These are presented in more detail below.
4.30 Some museums communicated their frustration around the TT procedure. In particular this focused on issues of resources, bidding, allocation, valuation, and questioning the impartiality of the TTAP. This was reflected in the tone of responses, some of which were rather more intense than those expressed in other submissions.
4.31 In general terms, among the museums that had played a role with TT, it was evident that there was a broad-based awareness of the TT procedure, though a few had not been through the system at all. The latter, a small number, had either "heard of TT" or knew nothing about it.
4.32 One consistent impression from various museums was that finds ought to be allocated locally. Allied to this was the perception of an Edinburgh allocation bias. Indeed, it was felt that the perception of an Edinburgh NMS bias could result in a reluctance to report. There was some suggestion that this perceived bias could be somewhat offset by making the TT process more transparent and the criteria clearer. One museum commented that TT is "slow, secretive, unresponsive, too closely identified with the NMS and . . . does not encourage finders to come forward with material". Both the tone and content of this remark resonated across some other museum responses.
4.33 Several museums said that they used their own discretion or "common sense" about what to report. For these museums, deciding what to report was largely in accordance with "past experience", which fed into their perceptions of the claim-worthiness of an item. Moreover, there was some anxiety over relationships with finders in relation to reporting. One response for example, explained that curators had to be careful not to "make people feel compelled to report". Relationships with detectorists were considered important, although there was some anecdotal evidence of knowledge of non-reporting among detectorists. This information was indirect, having generally been brought to their attention by other detectorists. Another concern was that "the provenance of material from some individuals can be dubious." It was felt that clarification around the issue of enforcement was required. It was recognised that this would be problematic, not least because it is "difficult to strike the balance between observing the law and frightening people off from reporting important discoveries."
4.34 Resource issues were raised around the costs of transporting finds to Edinburgh, which also had implications for delays in the process. Assemblages were discussed in terms of affordability because of associated storage costs. It was felt that assemblages could put undue pressures on museums' financial and storage resources. A further resource issue emerged around the areas of valuation and reward. Several museums said that they were unable to compete with larger museums, for example, one respondent said, "we are at a disadvantage in terms of raising costs." Others said that valuations vary widely and "are supported by dubious rationale."
4.35 Several museum responses reiterated the need for regionally based TT staff, "like the Finds' Liaison Officers in England and Wales", with the potential to liase with the public, promote TT and assist in identifying finds. The need to raise the public profile of TT and Scottish heritage generally emerged as a prominent theme from a significant number of museum responses.
4.36 Various museums were concerned about delays, which seemed to have the potential to occur at any stage in the process. In particular, delays were frustrating for the finders' that museums were dealing with. Indeed, one museum declared that, "the process is failing badly in public relations terms and is serving to disengage an exasperated public."
4.37 There were many critical comments about the length of time that the procedure took. In particular, this fuelled poor relations with finders and was considered detrimental to the public image of TT. One typical museum response was that "the system does not supply enough information to finders and leaves this to museums. The system does not engage with the public." Another response on the protracted nature of TT was that "once material is reported it disappears into a black hole." Some interest was expressed in a formal information process to keep museums informed about excavations and finds.
4.38 There were various comments about the TTAP, with a number of museums offering comments about its constitution, and the frequency of its meetings. Some felt that the Panel ought to have wider representation. More meetings were called for, one perceived benefit being acceleration of the procedure.
4.39 It was also evident from museum responses that there were concerns about contesting bids. A few museums either had in practice, or recommended in their review contribution that there would be some benefit in establishing local agreements with other museums in their neighbourhood to avoid contesting bids. An alternative was that the TTAP should make more decisions about contesting bids rather than allowing contestants to resolve this themselves.
Association of Regional and Islands Archaeologists
4.40 During the meeting with ARIA several themes emerged that they considered relevant. Some of these correspond to the themes presented above.
4.41 ARIA felt that there is a risk to both the environment and heritage not only from lone detectorists, but also some universities. For example, with university excavations there was the fear of finds being taken abroad or more commonly, not being reported for some considerable time, if at all. Also on the issue of reporting, some members of the group alleged that people have items in their own homes, which they are reluctant to report for "ownership" reasons, and fear of where such objects might be allocated, that is, outwith their locality. The Association recognised a role for reporting through local museums, but would welcome greater local discretion.
4.42 The issue of local museums versus the National Museum emerged as a prominent theme. There was some perception of the NMS as "the Crown museum", which was linked to the perceived dominance of Edinburgh. Similarly, the TTAPS was perceived as lacking impartiality. This was a minority view, however.
4.43 One criticism centred on a lack of resources for the smaller museums (e.g. bidding, 'second rate' objects), and the NMS in terms of storage space. One suggestion was encouraging developers to contribute towards providing costs incurred in the general process relating to finds (display and conservation), as seems to be the case in England.
4.44 Although ARIA archaeologists do attempt to provide guidance on TT, they explained that the ultimate responsibility is passed to planning contractors and thereafter compliance is not actively monitored. Occasionally some attempt is made to establish where finds have gone. The main reason for the absence of through-monitoring was lack of resources. The Association expressed a wish for arrangements that would allow a museum to come onto a developer site early in the procedure to advise and make appropriate arrangements for the material. They would welcome the opportunity for local agreements between specific museums and developers and noted that developers often seek local publicity from excavation and such arrangements would be likely to be viewed more favourably than finds leaving the region.
4.45 Brief mention was made of reclassifying what constitutes TT since this was considered excessively broad, though this was the view of a minority in the group.
4.46 As with other meetings, the idea of replicating in some way the role of Finds Liaison Officers in England was considered positive, though the issue of trust arose in this context. This centred on the problems this might pose for 'outsiders' entering an established local community.
4.47 According to ARIA, whether a find is currently acknowledged on display as TT, tends to operate on a regional museum-by-museum basis. However, attributing finders' names to their find, as a means of recognition was overwhelmingly considered positive, as was the idea of certificates. The theme of acknowledgement has emerged consistently throughout review meetings, and had also been considered favourably among finders.
4.48 Several archaeological contractors were also invited to submit responses. Their responses are discussed briefly below. Several areas highlighted correlate with the themes above.
4.49 For contractors, dealing with TT is continuous, and responses generally indicated a high awareness of TT among their staff. However, the current system of reporting was considered a source of confusion to some of these archaeologists, and this was despite their knowledge of and consultation with the relevant information documents. 24
4.50 A small number of responses regarded the relationship between the TTAP and FDP as "unclear". The reporting of assemblages was considered a particularly protracted process, especially since some material was sent to specialists prior to the notification of TTAP. Other specific criticisms about the protracted nature of the procedure were that the periods between reporting assemblages, whether these are claimed, and museum allocation was considerable. Moreover, a minority of respondents said they would like clearer guidelines on the amount of detail required for reporting purposes, and whether additional supporting documentation and environmental samples should be supplied by them. Two responses added that they would like clearer guidelines on the packaging of assemblages, while another said that it would be a good idea to receive expenses for both the delivery of boxes to museums, and also for storage.
4.51 Problems around non-claiming were also highlighted, in particular uncertainties around identifying a museum that might accept unclaimed material. Some of this material might be too valuable to discard but archaeological contractors have limited storage capacity. One suggestion was to advertise unclaimed material in Tak Tent. This might also "encourage feelings of fairness" among museums.
4.52 Other areas of concern from a minority of contractors, was the desire for information on the legal implications of returned items that have not been claimed by any museum. Also there was the view that material available for allocation, together with allocation decisions should be published.
4.53 Consistent with comments from other bodies above, was the idea of enhancing the interface between the public and TT. Contractors highlighted the need to advertise TT to the public, through leaflets/booklets, and television programmes. In addition, several responses said there might be some benefit in widening the membership of the TTAP. One final minority comment was that the position on other archaeological material such as pollen slides and charcoal lacked clarity.
Regional Archaeological Committee
4.54 An archaeological committee for one area - although not invited to respond formally - became aware of the review and submitted a written response (categorised as 'other' in Table 1). As a body they claimed to have little connection with the actual process of reporting, in contrast to some of their museum members. However, there was some overlap of contribution with another review submission.
4.55 The committee ensures that when they participate in fieldwork finds are correctly reported. However, they were acutely aware of people's dissatisfaction with the length of time the TT process can take. They suggested that local museums could be more involved in processing TT, for example with the assistance of FLOs. Having noted that allocation of finds to the NMS was a problem, they called for the process around claiming and non-claiming to be clarified. In conjunction they stressed that 'national importance' ought to be defined and in what way this relates to the idea of a Distributed National Collection. They added that bids for items should be judged on long term display capacities.
4.56 On the theme of communication, they claimed that there was a low level of correspondence between the TTAP, TTAPS and finders, which causes disquiet. They suggested that TTAP members should be drawn from a wider pool of specialists and that there should be greater frequency of their meetings.
4.57 Remarks were also submitted about the role of the Crown Office. Namely, that the Crown Office needs to improve the policing of the black market in antiquities. They also asked whether the Crown Office is the right place for the administration of portable antiquities legislation - indeed, as they put it, "is it time to devise a 21 st century law for a 21 st century problem?"
4.58 On reward and valuation the main point was that the valuation process ought to be clarified. They added that many finders do not expect a reward but that some other form of recognition would be beneficial.
4.59 A further point was that of publicity. They suggested raising awareness through a website, in addition to good quality annual reports, road-shows and more general publicity. On issues of excavation they suggested that all excavation assemblages should only go through the Finds Disposal Panel, for more efficient resource distribution. Furthermore, they identified a need for the improved selection and archiving of assemblages. They considered this a problem compounded by finds going to museums and paper archives to RCAHMS. A final comment was that "TT needs to play its part in the ongoing formulation of the National Cultural Strategy and the Action Plan for museums."
Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
4.60 The Society of Antiquaries introduced their comments by noting that having convened a TT seminar in 2002 to discuss associated problems and potential, many issues had arisen, particularly around the legislative and procedural domains. These informed the basis of their responses to the review. The general view was that current problems of TT are less about legislation and procedure, and more a result of inadequate resources and administration. Clearer written guidelines and information documents were considered necessary. Similar themes have emerged in the preceding material.
4.61 Again, the issue of processing time and concomitant dissatisfaction among finders was raised. They reasoned that many people were probably unaware of TT and the reporting of finds. Hence TT requires more publicity and also some form of policing, with the possible introduction of sanctions. Staff with a similar role to FLOs were - as responses above have indicated - considered potentially valuable to support the system in general terms.
4.62 On claiming and allocation, issues were raised around greater clarity of process, in particular clarification of the criteria for claiming and non-claiming. Similarly such terms as local and national importance were open to various interpretations. An appeals procedure for contested bids was also supported.
4.63 The call for the clarification of criteria also emerged in relation to valuation and reward. In conjunction, resource issues especially around bidding for items were considered problematic for some museums. A further recurrent theme was that finders ought to be recognised by means of something other than a reward.
4.64 Other more general comments were presented on the composition of TTAP. Specifically, the society urged clarification of its status, role, responsibilities, and accountability. They also wondered whether Panel meetings should continue to be confidential. A suggestion was made for processing all excavation and fieldwalking assemblages through one allocation route. The implication was that this might help to offset the confused understandings that people have about the distinction between TTAP and the FDP. TTAPS on the other hand, were briefly discussed in relation to resources, suggesting the provision of more staff and longer-term commitment of resources.
4.65 The society also stated that areas of responsibility were unclear and obscure, from SE, SEED, CO, and the two Panels. Furthermore, that publicity needs generating around TT to inform the public. They also underlined their concern about 'black market' activities in antiquities, proposing that the bill currently pursued in England might be mirrored in Scotland. Finally, they stressed the chronic under funding of TT. From their perspective, this represents the most fundamental problem.
4.66 In recent years, TTAP have been key players in the TT procedure. As a body they are particularly important in terms of general issues concerning the allocation of finds. Some of the Panel members also contributed responses to the review through other submissions.
4.67 The Panel suggested that it was often difficult to know who is reporting and not reporting, but they had a vague sense of who these might be. It was suggested that some people fail to report because they do not want finds taken to Edinburgh, or simply do not wish finds to be taken from their possession.
4.68 Some Panel members were wary of being seen as "policing the process", explaining that although they can offer their professional guidance, the decision to report was really that of the individual finder. In this context, they drew attention to a lack of public awareness about TT, urging more publicity in this respect. One Panel member said that once people had been through the TT process they were usually satisfied with their experience.
4.69 Problems associated with reporting were not confined to individual finders but also with institutions such as museums. It was noted that the TT process could be lengthy, and there was a sense that museums applied the criteria differently. Archaeologists were also discussed, as a heterogeneous body of people driven by different interests. Whilst archaeologists may have guidelines pointing to the rules of TT, there are no checks to see how consistently these are applied. In the same context, it was felt that there is an attitude of "finders-keepers". Furthermore, the distribution of archaeologists across museums tends to be erratic.
4.70 The Panel felt very strongly that FLOs would be useful, particularly in relation to reporting and claiming. However, there were questions of funding and lack of museum archaeologists in connection with FLOs.
4.71 The Panel appeared strongly opposed to the removal of items from Scotland and some discussion around licensing ensued. In Scotland a licence for digging is not required, though there are moves to implement this in England and Wales. This has met with resistance from detectorists, however.
4.72 In performing their functions the Panel have regard to the relevant SEED information booklet on allocation criteria. 25 The Panel's satisfaction with the current TT literature was low, especially since it was felt that this does not sufficiently relate to the public. Indeed, it was argued that this reflects the fact that TT is not seen as a public issue but as a professional one.
4.73 There was consensus around the principle of ensuring that objects remain in the public domain, though some members felt there was a perception that too much is claimed. Further, they thought that people do not understand that the system assists with the allocation and preservation of objects. Another critical comment was that the system deals less satisfactorily with recording than it does with claiming. One corollary of this is that people view the system as one that takes things away. The Panel would like to make use of their professional judgement around claiming and non-claiming.
4.74 Several other points were raised about claiming and allocation, with some discussion around eligibility and museum registration. Particularly, the question of whether all museums have clear and written collecting policies was raised, and whether these are lodged with the TTAPS.
4.75 The Panel considered it necessary to impose requirements for written bids and that bidding letters ought to construct a clear and lucid case. In practice some of these merely reflected their own museum guidelines on bidding. They also thought that bidders ought to indicate their source of funding for the reward because this is an area where delays can occur. They agreed that finders should be informed in advance about the value of the object and concomitant reward.
4.76 The Panel provided further comments in relation to existing criteria. Paragraph 2.1 of the 1999a booklet confirmed that there are "exceptional circumstances" where special requirements apply, for instance special conservation techniques for preserving items. In such instances, it is possible for museums to acquire grant aid to purchase a special display case, for example. The current practice however, seems to be that museums are informed about special requirements in response to an emergent need rather than at the outset. It was felt that there is a need to retain the reference to "exceptional circumstances" for atypical instances like that of the Cramond Lioness. This would retain the system's flexibility. It was suggested that it might be useful to have a code of practice to replace the guideline booklets. There was some uncertainty about whether criteria for allocation should be written on the basis of normal procedure, but this was considered the best way forward, since the anomalous application of criteria was rare.
4.77 Further reflection on criteria for allocation drew attention to paragraph 2.2 of the allocation booklet, dealing with assemblages, 26 in particular noting ambiguity around the interpretation of this term. The Panel agreed that what constitutes an assemblage requires clarification. They also spoke of their reluctance to split hoards. Although there was some history of pre-existing divisions, there were few recent examples of splitting hoards. In the case of competing bids the Panel's view is that assemblages - however vaguely defined - should not be split.
4.78 The Panel discussed the TT procedure from the point where an item is delivered to the NMS and their role in the procedure. From the outset, the TTAPS acts as a screening mechanism to decide whether something is claimed or not. Where finds are not claimed the finder does not receive information on item identification. The Panel felt that perhaps finders ought to be notified, although such correspondence would have implications for staff time. The identification of an object is heavily dependent on the NMS and other museums, in distinction to the TTAP. On occasion, some local museums however, have relayed incorrect information on item identification.
4.79 In terms of the Panel's role, the main starting point pivots on whether a bid has been received. A crucial issue around bidding is that of locality. The Panel feels pressure towards making local allocations. Local allocation has become more important and the Panel has to justify decisions that go against local allocation. 'Local allocation' is however an ambiguous term. Some clarification is needed to show that this does not necessarily mean in closest proximity to a find. In making an allocation, the Panel explained that there is a need to consider the long-term curation of the find.
4.80 Another ambiguous term was 'national importance'. It was pointed out that not all items of national importance are allocated to the NMS. Allocations depend on the relevance of an item to particular museum collections. National importance is rarely used as an argument. Other criteria for allocation include such factors as the ability to conduct subsequent research on an item, and display and conservation capacities. It was suggested that it would be a good idea for items to be loaned to other museums, drawing some distinction between ownership and display. It was argued that bidders need more guidelines to provide an explanation of the criteria discussed by the Panel.
4.81 The Panel agreed with the merits of a website to enhance public accessibility. They also suggested that the bidder should have resources so they can deliver lectures on any items acquired. In effect, this would advertise an item's existence to the public.
4.82 Most of the group recognized that there were delays in awarding rewards to finders, and underlying factors were discussed. One was that the Panel only meets three times annually. One proposal for offsetting delays was to use the internet and emails to communicate information on finds. This would initiate the procedure before the object arrives in Edinburgh. A further suggestion was greater delegation to the TTAPS. The Panel agreed that there ought to be a process time target, particularly since it often took considerable time for individual museums to take objects to the NMS.
4.83 On valuation and rewards the Panel considered it necessary to consult with other experts or bodies occasionally. At present there is no formal provision for finders to challenge valuations. They did feel however, that the current system allows room for finders to offer suggestions. Moreover, there would always be issues about valuations. The Panel highlighted the importance of the abatement of rewards. The circumstances for abatement require clarification, however.
4.84 The Panel discussed their appointment and composition. They said that they would like some statement about their function and remit. The issue of remuneration was also raised. The question of how they are recruited and funded ought to be represented in guidelines. They also advocated more transparency around TT meetings and the Panel in general. They approved the idea of more generalist representation, possibly even a detectorist.
4.85 Finally, resource issues relating to the Secretariat were discussed briefly. One view in particular thought that TTAPS ought to be enhanced financially and requires more staff. The views of the TTAPS are discussed below.
4.86 On the subject of finding and reporting, the TTAPS provided evidence to illustrate that Scotland has find-clusters that are particularly high in some regions. On the whole these were attributed to good relations with detectorists and archaeologists in the areas concerned. In contrast, "cold spots" were also highlighted. These were areas where little reporting occurs despite "strong hints" of detectorist activity. It was suggested that one reason for not reporting was that people found that the system did not work for them. It might be inconvenient to report, for example, when the Secretariat is closed during the weekend. One perspective was that there was a lack of information about TT among the public. Many people are unaware of its existence.
4.87 The Secretariat echoed concerns expressed by others about removal from Scotland and non-reporting of finds from archaeological excavations carried out by universities from England.
4.88 The view was expressed that there is a strong need for statutory reporting. However, there was concern that if this were the case, excessive quantities of objects would be reported, much of which would be "dross." There was also concern that statutory reporting might affect relationships with detectorists.
4.89 Modern technology, such as digital photography, was not considered appropriate in all cases to initial reporting. It was explained that these vehicles of communication have limited value in assisting with the identification of finds.
4.90 The claiming of items as treasure is essentially initiated by the TTAPS. One critical comment about claiming was that some articles might be claimed but end up being disclaimed. This is either because there is no museum interest, or museums are unable to afford to bid. The actual criteria for claiming are not written down anywhere. TTAPS explained that the way they evaluate claim-worthiness revolves around an item's museum worthiness and national importance. TTAPS generally makes the decision to recommend claiming to the Q<R, though on rare occasions the decision is referred to the Panel. However, it was noted that there has never been an issue raised by TTAP or the Q<R about inappropriate claiming.
4.91 The group discussed awarding certificates to finders of both claimed and unclaimed treasure. It was noted that the current position is that where a finder reports something that is subsequently not claimed, they are issued with a certificate. There was considerable support for issuing certificates to finders of claimed items too.
4.92 The TTAPS commented that TTAP members are theoretically appointed for their expertise. In reality, however, they suggested that the expertise in claiming finds resides within the TTAPS, and this applies also to the valuation of items - a further task undertaken in practice by the Secretariat. In terms of allocation the Secretariat does not offer advice to TTAP, but on occasion the Secretariat draws the attention of TTAP to some points or arguments that they think the Panel ought to consider. The TTAPS was ambivalent on the question of the Q<R having a separate appeals panel, and made the point that this could make the Panel feel undermined.
4.93 TTAPS discussed combining the function of the Crown Office (UH) and the TTAPS. It was remarked that that this might be more economical and efficient. However, it was felt that it was important for people to know that items are claimed in the name of the Crown, and that letters received by finders from the Crown Office convey an important sense of official formality.
4.94 The group strongly supported the need for a documented code of practice, and also an adequately funded Treasure Trove website. (The latter is now in fact almost ready for launching.)