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Alan Howarth, the Arts Minister, has also launched a new drive to ensure as many as possible of an estimated 400,000 non-treasure items uncovered every year by metal detectors in England and Wales are properly recorded.

Speaking last week at the European Association of Archaeologists Conference, the Minister emphasised his determination to stop the illegal export of such items by citing the recent case of an American stopped at Heathrow with several hundred coins and metal items he had found in Norfolk. The objects are now owned by the Norfolk Museum Service. A new guide – Finding Our Past – has been produced to emphasise the historic importance of mundane objects.