Wales:National Museum Queried On Artefacts Transfer policy

The General Secretary (GS) of the Celtic League has written to the Director General of the National Museum is Wales to ask what the Museum’s policy is on sending treasure to the British Museum in London.

The GS expressed his concerns following the way a silver ring was handled by the National Museum, after its discovery in the south of Wales and confirmation of its `treasure’ status. The ring in question was sent to the British Museum after its authenticity was confirmed by the National Museum in Cardiff, only for the British Museum to present the ring to a further museum in the vicinity where the ring was originally found. The full text of the letter can be found below and is copied to the President of the National Museum Trust.

“20/12/11

Dear Director General David Anderson

Discovery of Welsh Treasure

I am writing to you to enquire what processes the National Museum has in place to decide what is to be done with newly discovered artefacts that are brought to the attention of the Museum.

One of the reasons why I am enquiring about this matter in particular involves concerns among members of our organisation regarding the way a silver Roman ring that was recently discovered in the Darran Valley area of Caerffili recently, was handled. On being declared ‘treasure’ the silver ring was sent to the National Museum for it to be identified, only for the museum to then forward the ring on to the British Museum in London, after the ring had been authenticated. One obvious question our members have is why did the ring should to be sent to the British Museum after it had already been identified and authenticated by the National Museum?

Surely the scholarship and expertise of staff at the National Museum should have been enough to determine everything there needed to be known about the ring? We are aware that the ring was later offered to Winding House Museum in Caerffili by the British Museum, but this could have been similarly done by the National Museum. It has been suggested, not just by members of our organisation, that the reason why the ring was forwarded to the British Museum was to give that Museum the first choice on whether it wanted to retain the `treasure’.

I would therefore like to know if it is a common policy of the National Museum to offer all artefacts discovered in Wales to the British Museum first and if not, why the silver ring mentioned above was dealt with in this way.

Yours sincerely

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot

General Secretary
Celtic League

CC Elisabeth Elias, President of National Museum Trustees”

For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League:

Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912
M: 0044 (0)7787318666

gensec@celticleague.net

The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.

ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.

21/12/11

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