Record Treasure Finds in Wiltshire and Swindon

Last year, Wiltshire and Swindon experienced a record-breaking year for treasure discoveries, with 82 reported finds. This is a significant increase from the previous year, which saw 73 discoveries.

This local trend mirrors a nationwide surge in treasure hunting, with England and Wales reporting a record 1,219 discoveries in 2023. This represents a 12% increase from 2022, and a staggering leap from 1997 when the Treasure Act was introduced, and a mere 54 finds were reported.

So, what’s behind this treasure hunting boom? The Ministry of Justice suggests that the pandemic has played a significant role, with more people taking up metal detecting during lockdowns. However, with this surge in popularity comes a word of caution from the Detectorist Institute and Foundation. They warn that the value of treasure can be significantly reduced if items are damaged during excavation.

The distribution of these finds varies across the country, reflecting geographical and historical differences. Norfolk topped the list with 95 discoveries, while the South West, including Wiltshire and Swindon, reported 176 finds.

Interestingly, the definition of ‘treasure’ was updated in July 2023. Previously, items were classified as treasure if they were over 300 years old and made of precious metal or part of a valuable collection. Now, most exceptional finds over 200 years old will be classified as treasure, provided they offer important insights into the country’s heritage.

This change in definition is hoped to protect significant historical artefacts from being sold off at auction, preserving our rich and fascinating history for future generations. So, whether you’re an experienced detectorist or a budding treasure hunter, remember – every find tells a story.

Image credits: Ashin K Suresh / Unsplash


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