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A report just published revealed that there were 90,146 archaeological objects recorded through the PAS last year and 859 treasure cases, a rise of ten per cent.

The Headley Trust, which funds treasure acquisitions, and the Institute for Archaeologists had put up the funds to improve the database and make it easier to use for recorders and the public, as well as paying for interns to record finds.

The PAS is a voluntary scheme managed by the British Museum to record archaeological objects (not necessarily treasure) found by members of the public in England and Wales.

All finders of gold and silver objects, groups of coins from the same find, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1 January 2003 also qualify as treasure.

Potential treasure finds must be reported by law to the local coroner, which is normally done through the finders' local PAS Finds Liaison Officer. If declared treasure, they may be acquired by a museum at their full market value, normally split 50/50 between finder and landowner.

It is this compensation factor that is thought to have encouraged increasing responsibility on the part of treasure hunters since the Treasure Act was updated in 1996 and the PAS introduced a year later.