What are Britain’s most secret treasures? One of the finds from the Staffordshire Hoard (above) or a human tool found in Norfolk dating back 700,000 years? In a new television series, Britain’s Secret Treasures, beginning on Monday, 16 July and running consecutively for six days, ITV1 has joined forces with the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme to –
 
…unveil the 50 greatest treasures discovered by the British public, extraordinary items and historical artefacts discovered by ordinary people that have shed light and in some cases dramatically changed our understanding of British history.
 
Transmitting on ITV1 across six nights, Britain’s Secret Treasures is presented by award-winning journalist Michael Buerk in his broadcasting debut for ITV, alongside historian and author Bettany Hughes, winner of this year’s distinguished Medlicott Medal for History.
 
The series will map out the 50 key artefacts found by members of the public and recorded by the British Museum’s scheme in the past 15 years. Facing the daunting task of selecting which discoveries were included and determining their ranking on the list, was a panel of experts from the British Museum and The Council for British Archaeology. They have sifted through almost one million items to judge each one on its national importance, beauty and cultural and historic significance. From a human tool found in Norfolk dating back 700,000 years, to the Silverdale Hoard of Viking Treasure, these items hold incredible stories, many of which revolutionise our understanding of the past.
 
New ale launched for the Staffordshire Hoard
 
 
“I thought they were unusually keen to form an archaeological group to find more Staffordshire Gold – it’s a new beer…!” 
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Writing in The Guardian in March of this year, Maev Kennedy also reports that –
 
All the objects, from the most corroded Roman hob-nailed boot stud or lumpy fire-blackened pot to the gold and garnet glory of the Anglo-Saxon jewellery, are logged in the now vast treasure and portable antiquities databases held at the British Museum. Since the antiquities scheme was launched 15 years ago thousands of amateurs using metal detectors have been encouraged to report everything they find through a network of officers covering the country.
 

Although Roger Bland, keeper of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum, said they were excited about the chance to highlight the success of the scheme, the programmes will also inevitably revive the passionate debate about the ethics of metal detecting for antiquities, which some archaeologists regard as no better than looting.

Full Guardian article here. Details of the ITV1 series here.