Press Releases

Unearthing the past: Heritage Lottery grant supports new initiative to get the best from archaeological finds

Every year, metal detectorists, farmers and walkers discover archaeological finds that could have important stories to tell us about the past in Wales. But do we get the most out of these discoveries?

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in partnership with The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales has attracted a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to fulfil the exciting potential of new discoveries. The project Saving Treasures, Telling Stories has been awarded £349,000 to work with finders and communities and enhance the archaeology collections of national and local museums across Wales.

As part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures initiative, which supports museums, libraries and archives in developing their collections through strategic acquisition projects, the Saving Treasures, Telling Stories project will create a long-term collecting culture to underpin responsible discovery and reporting.


The Saving Treasures project will establish collecting networks across Wales, enabling museums to share skills, expertise and knowledge and offering training to interpret collections in new and strategic ways. It will also allow for targeted purchases of newly discovered artefacts to develop national and local collections over a four year period 2015-2019. This will involve discoveries covering many periods, from the Stone Age to Medieval times.


The project will deliver a three-year programme of community projects, taking inspiration from significant artefacts or treasure discoveries. Museum staff and partners will collaborate with community groups and participating audiences to develop their responses to the portable heritage on their doorsteps. Community project outcomes will be co-presented in local museums and the national museum, with a range of digital media presentations created and captured online.


A lively and engaging website will be developed for the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales, as a point of access for profiling discoveries, stories, successes and creative responses relating to the portable heritage of Wales.


There will be bursaries for journalism or media studies students and additional volunteering opportunities linked with collecting, community projects and Portable Antiquities Scheme work. 


Peter Wakelin, Director of Collections and Research, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said, “Each year hundreds of objects of archaeological significance are found by metal detectorists in Wales and there are some 20-30 discoveries of treasure.  This is a crucial resource for understanding the past”.


“Targeted purchases of newly-discovered artefacts for national and local collections, collecting activities, ongoing resources and community projects will make a lasting change in bringing together detector clubs, local museums and communities around the stories new discoveries reveal.


“This five year project will help to create and celebrate a new culture around collecting the portable archaeological heritage in Wales and this generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help us save more treasures and make them more accessible to wider audiences to tell their stories for future generations.”


Rachael Rogers, The Federation of Museums and Galleries of Wales, “We are delighted that this scheme is going ahead.  It is a great opportunity for museums across Wales to work both with Amgueddfa Cymru and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales to develop their archaeological collections. We particularly welcome the opportunity to work with local communities that this project will bring”.


Jennifer Stewart, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, added “Collecting Cultures was a hugely popular grant programme and we have responded to this positive feedback by bringing it back a second time.  Our first Collecting Cultures grants made a real difference to how cultural institutions approached and planned their long-term collecting strategies.  Now, five years on, we’re pleased to be able to help a much wider range of applicants, including Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in partnership with The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales.”


If you are interested in taking part in the project or supporting it, please contact Mark Lodwick on (029) 2057 3226 or Adam Gwilt on (029) 2057 3374.