Calls for rethink over cuts to Norfolk archaeological service

An example of a find identified by the service - an incomplete Roman enamelled copper alloy plate br

An example of a find identified by the service - an incomplete Roman enamelled copper alloy plate brooch in the form of a fish, found using a metal detector in south Norfolk. Pic: Submitted. - Credit: Submitted

Norfolk's coroner, the British Museum and metal detectorists have called for the scrapping of a controversial cost-cutting proposal which threatens the future of a service which identifies archaeological finds.

As part of its attempts to plug a £111m spending gap over three years, Norfolk County Council has proposed a £172,000 cut to its historic environment service.

That would reduce four and a half posts in the identification and recording service, which logs finds made by the public, to two posts. Critics, including television presenter Mary Beard, fear fewer people would use the scheme, leading to its demise.

More than 1,100 people signed a petition protesting, while organisations to raise concerns include a group from the British Museum, The Council for British Archaeology, Historic England, Norfolk metal detecting organisations and Norfolk Archaeological Trust.

With Norfolk Coroner Jacqueline Lake responsible for dealing with treasure inquests, the coroner's service and Historic England warned the cuts could have legal implications.

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The coroner's service stated: 'The coroner has a legal duty to hold inquests into finds of potential treasure and to make a finding as to whether any item is indeed treasure.

'The coroner relies heavily on the expertise presently available in the historic environment service to provide this. If this service is not available, the Coroner will be required to look elsewhere for this expertise.'

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The council's environment, development and transport committee will consider the cuts at a meeting today, ahead of next month's budget setting.

What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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