Policy of Sending Celtic Treasures To British Museum Queried

The seemingly imperialistic practice of sending treasure found in Wales to England is alive and well as the discovery of a silver ring in the Caerffili area of south Wales recently showed.

The treasure, about 2000 years old, was discovered by a man with a metal detector on Cefn Brithdir, in the Darran Valley earlier this year, who announced his find to the authorities in accordance with the law. On declaring the find a `treasure trove’ the ring was sent to the National Museum in Cardiff for inspection and on confirmation of its authenticity was sent to the British Museum in London `for care’.

Why the ring was forwarded to the British Museum in London, even after its authenticity had been confirmed seems indicative of what could be the common practice of giving England the first say on whether it wants to keep new treasure found in Wales. As it happens the British Museum decided to return the ring to Wales, offering it to Winding House Museum in Caerffili, but the fact that the ring was sent to the British Museum in the first place gives rise to the questions why this took place at all and how many other lesser known Welsh artefacts have been forwarded on to the British Museum for `safe keeping’ in the same way over the years, at the expense of Welsh cultural heritage.

A cynic might suggest that one of the reasons why the British Museum did not keep the ring was because it was missing its gemstone. Despite its condition though the treasure was of significant local importance, because of the strong presence of the Romans in the Caerffili area in the 1st Century AD and should have been offered to a local Museum after authenticity had been confirmed in Cardiff.

Under the Treasure Act 1996 objects are defined as treasure if they are precious metals, prehistoric base-metal or finds in association with them and must be presented to the local coroner for confirmation. Other such finds that have come to light recently have been a silver Latin-inscribed seal found in Cornwall, which was declared to be treasure in September 2011. The seal was again sent to the British Museum, but Truro Museum hopes for an opportunity to buy it in the future.

The general secretary of the League will be writing to the director general at the National Museum of Wales to ask why the Roman ring was sent to the British Museum.

See Celtic League campaign page here:


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


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



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