Britain's Secret Treasures

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Britain's Secret Treasures
Ralph Jackson and Bettany Hughes.jpg
Ralph Jackson (Curator of Romano-British Collections at the British Museum) and Bettany Hughes during filming at the British Museum
Created byMichael Kelpie and Ed Taylor
Presented by
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2
No. of episodes14
Executive producersMichael Kelpie, Ed Taylor
Running time30–60 mins
Production companyITV Studios
Original networkITV, STV, UTV
Picture format16:9 (HDTV)
Original release16 July 2012 (2012-07-16) –
5 December 2013 (2013-12-05)

Britain's Secret Treasures is a British documentary shown on ITV hosted by Michael Buerk and Bettany Hughes.[1] The programme features fifty archaeological discoveries that have been made in England, Wales and Scotland by members of the public.[2][3] With the exception of a single find made in Scotland, all the objects featured were recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). Since the PAS was set up in 1997, some 800,000 objects have been registered with the scheme, many of them discovered by amateur metal detectorists.[4]

The fifty finds have been selected by Hughes and a panel of experts from the British Museum (Roger Bland, Michael Lewis, Sally Worrell and Ian Richardson) and the Council for British Archaeology (Mike Heyworth) from among the nearly one million finds reported to the PAS on the basis of their historical and cultural significance, as well as on their aesthetic merit.[5] The six episodes of Britain's Secret Treasures present the fifty objects in reverse order according to their importance as judged by the panel, in a countdown format, with the ten most important objects revealed during the sixth and final episode.[4][6]

Taking the top slot in the countdown, as the most important object according to the panel, is a Lower Paleolithic flint handaxe made more than half a million years ago that was found on a beach in Happisburgh, Norfolk, in 2000 by a man taking his dog for a walk.[7]


Series 1[edit]

Episode Air Date Contributors Objects
1 16 July 2012 John McCarthy
Saul David
2 17 July 2012 Michael Portillo
Nicky Clarke
Mary Ann Ochota
Claire Barratt
3 18 July 2012 Michael Portillo
John McCarthy
John Sergeant
4 19 July 2012 Dave Crisp (finder of the Frome Hoard)
Brian Blessed
Mary Ann Ochota
Gethin Jones
5 20 July 2012 Dan Lobb
Mary Ann Ochota
Anita Rani
Jon Culshaw
6 22 July 2012 William Roache
Michael Portillo

Series 2[edit]

Episode Air Date Contributors Objects
1 17 October 2013[14] Mary Ann Ochota
James Purefoy
2 24 October 2013 Jim Moir
Tom Holland
Tanni Grey-Thompson
3 31 October 2013 Russell Grant
Tony Baker
Thomas Littleton
Suzannah Lipscomb
4 7 November 2013
5 14 November 2013 John Prescott
Mary Ann Ochota
Suzannah Lipscomb
6 21 November 2013 Mariella Frostrup
Ekow Eshun
Suzannah Lipscomb
7 28 November 2013
8 5 December 2013 Katherine Jenkins
Mary Ann Ochota

List of objects[edit]

Number Image Object Date Where Found When Found PAS Record
1 Happisburgh handaxe.jpg Happisburgh Handaxe 800,000 – 600,000 BC Happisburgh, Norfolk 2000 NMS-ECAA52
2 RinglemereCup-BritishMuseum-20070829.jpg Ringlemere Gold Cup 1700–1500 BC Ringlemere barrow, Kent 2001 PAS-BE40C2
3 Staffordshire hoard annotated.jpg Staffordshire Hoard 550–650 Hammerwich, Staffordshire 2009 WMID-0B5416
4 Fig 373 hoard.jpg Chalgrove Hoard 251–279 Chalgrove, Oxfordshire 2003 PAS-879F02
5 Boar Badge of Richard III from Bosworth Field.jpg Boar Badge of Richard III 1470–1485 Sheepy, Leicestershire 2009 LEIC-A6C834
6 Hallaton hoard.jpg Hallaton Hoard c. 400 Hallaton, Leicestershire 2000 PAS-984616
7 Staffordshire Moorlands Pan (1284837406).jpg Staffordshire Moorlands Pan 100–199 Staffordshire Moorlands, Staffordshire 2003 WMID-3FE965
8 Baldehilde seal from ring B.jpg Baldehilde Seal 600–700 Broadland, Norfolk 1999 PAS-8709C3
9 Crosby Garret Helmet at Sale.jpg Crosby Garrett Helmet 75–250 Crosby Garrett, Cumbria 2010 LANCUM-E48D73
10 Coins bullion york hoard.JPG Vale of York Hoard c. 928 Harrogate, North Yorkshire 2007 SWYOR-AECB53
11 Near Lewes Hoard.jpg Near Lewes Hoard 1500–1100 BC Lewes, East Sussex 2011 SUSS-C5D042
12 Stirling HoardDSCF6395.jpg Blair Drummond Hoard 300–100 BC Blair Drummond, Stirlingshire 2009 N/A
13 North West Essex ring.jpg North West Essex Ring 580–650 Uttlesford, Essex 2011 ESS-E396B1
14 Baldock Hoard3.jpg Ashwell Hoard 250–350 Baldock, Hertfordhire 2002 PAS-9708E3
15 Winchester Hoard.jpg Winchester Hoard c. 100 BC Winchester, Hampshire 2000 PAS-845331
16 Carlton knight.jpg Carlton-in-Lindrick knight 1150–1250 Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire 2004 SWYOR-D37EE5
17 Seal Matrix of Stone Priory.jpg Seal Matrix of Stone Priory 1200–1300 Weybridge, Surrey 2011 SUR-B74173
18 Silverdale Hoard group shot.jpg Silverdale Hoard 900–910 Silverdale, Lancashire 2011 LANCUM-65C1B4
19 Monmouthshire Leopard cup 2.jpg Leopard Cup 1–99 Llantilio Pertholey, Monmouthshire 2002 NMGW-9A9D16
20 Tisbury Hoard.jpg Tisbury Hoard 800–600 BC Tisbury, Wiltshire 2011 WILT-E8DA70
21 Saltfleetby spindle whorl.jpg Saltfleetby Spindle Whorl 1000–1100 Saltfleetby, Lincolnshire 2010 LIN-D92A22
22 MiltonKeynesHoard.JPG Milton Keynes Hoard 1150–750 BC Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire 2000 PAS-833958
23 Nether Stowey Hoard.jpg Nether Stowey Hoard c. 1633 Nether Stowey, Somerset 2008 SOM-849CA3
24 Bust of Marcus Aurelius.jpg Marcus Aurelius Bust 100–200 Brackley, Northamptonshire 1976 BERK-E24C84
25 Frome Hoard pile of coins.jpg Frome Hoard c. 293 Frome, Somerset 2009 SOM-5B9453
26 River Stour pilgrim's badge.jpg River Stour Pilgrims' Badges 1300–1500 Canterbury, Kent ? PAS-B1BD65
27 French forgeries hoard.jpg French Forgeries 1711 Bishops Waltham, Hampshire 2010 HAMP-E4E185
28 Holderness cross.jpg Holderness Cross 600–650 Holderness, East Riding of Yorkshire 1965 YORYM214
29 Hoard of Anglo-Saxon rings.jpg West Yorkshire Hoard 900–1000 Leeds, West Yorkshire 2008–2009 SWYOR-F86A02
30 Sedgeford Hoard.jpg Sedgeford Hoard c. 100 BC Sedgeford, Norfolk 2003 PAS-B1F065
31 Witch-bottle.jpg Witch Bottle 1820–1880 Navenby, Lincolnshire 2003 LIN-49FC12
32 American gold double-eagles from Hackney.jpg Hackney Hoard 1854–1913 Hackney, London 2007 PAS-867115
33 Llanbedrgoch Viking weights.jpg Llanbedrgoch Viking Finds 600–1000 Llanbedrgoch, Anglesey 2007 NMGW-C5EE45
34 Billingford Amulet.jpg Billingford Amulet 43–200 Billingford, Breckland, Norfolk 2003 NMS-7BEED8
35 Durham assemblage E.jpg Durham Assemblage 90–400 Piercebridge, County Durham 1986–2002 NCL-2C40A4
36 Langstone bronze bowls and wine strainer.jpg Langstone Hoard 25–75 Ringland, Newport 2007 NMGW-9C0216
37 Anarevitos gold stater.jpg Anarevito Gold Stater 10 BC – AD 20 Dover, Kent 2010 FASAM-FCD3A2
38 Hoard of Spanish-American Doubloons.jpg Hoard of Spanish-American Doubloons 1790–1801 North Kesteven, Lincolnshire 2010–2011 LIN-55BFE7
39 Beddingham Nose.jpg Beddingham Nose 1500–1700 Beddingham, East Sussex 2009 SUSS-05BC17
40 Putney spintria.jpg Putney Brothel Token 27 BC – 37 AD Putney, London 2011 LON-E98F21
41 Durham cloth seals.jpg Cloth Seals from Durham 1550–1650 Elvet, Durham, County Durham 2008 PUBLIC-9B0430
42 Figure of Cautopates.jpg Cautopates Figurine 43–307 Newton Kyme, North Yorkshire 2007 SWYOR-9FCBB3
43 Tanworth comb.jpg Tanworth Comb 25–70 Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire 2006 WAW-250340
44 Rochester cufflink.jpg Rochester Cuff-link 1660–1700 Rochester, Kent 2001 BM-CAA2C7
45 George Humber's Distinguished Conduct Medal (FindID 263669).jpg First World War Medal 1919 Limpsfield, Surrey 2009 SUR-5ADA50
46 Sedgeford gold torc and terminal.JPG Sedgeford Torc c.200 BC Sedgeford, Norfolk 2004 PAS-F070D5
47 Pitminster toy cannon.jpg Pitminster Toy Cannon 1700–1750 Pitminster, Somerset 2003 SOM-D20D91
48 Epsom Horse Harness.jpg Epsom Harness Boss 1603–1664 Epsom, Surrey 2009 SUR-23EF78
49 Hockley pendant.jpg Hockley Pendant 1500–1550 Hockley, Essex 2009 ESS-2C4836
50 Roman slave shackles.jpg Roman Slave Shackle 200–400 Headbourne Worthy, Hampshire 1992 HAMP-C45106

Objects submitted by viewers[edit]

Sculpture of a winged lion with an open book showing the words Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus on a Venetian building

At the beginning of the series viewers were invited to submit photographs of objects that they had found in England or Wales, so that experts from the British Museum could select the most interesting object, to be announced during the final episode.[2][15]

The viewer-submitted object chosen as the most interesting by the panel was a small medieval bronze ornament in the form of an open book that was found in a field by the Pilgrims' Way at Bentley, Hampshire in 1997 (PAS record: HAMP527). The open pages of the book are engraved with the Latin inscription Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus meaning "Peace to you, Mark, my evangelist". The traditional symbol of the Republic of Venice and the city of Venice is a winged lion (symbol of Mark the Evangelist), which is often depicted with one of its paws on an open book showing this same inscription, which suggests that the bronze book may have been a pilgrim's souvenir from Venice.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Waters, Florence (16 July 2012). "Bettany Hughes on Britain's Secret Treasures". The Telegraph. UK.
  2. ^ a b "Britain's Secret Treasures". ITV. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  3. ^ "ITV and the British Museum to reveal the 50 greatest treasures discovered by the British public". Portable Antiquities Scheme. 26 March 2012. Archived from the original on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b Roya, Nikkhah (15 July 2012). "50 greatest national treasures revealed". The Telegraph.
  5. ^ "The selection panel for the top 50 finds". Portable Antiquities Scheme. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  6. ^ Akbar, Arifa (17 July 2012). "Last night's viewing - Usain Bolt: the Fastest Man Alive, BBC1; Britain's Secret Treasures, ITV1". The Independent.
  7. ^ Roya, Nikkhah (22 July 2012). "Prehistoric axe is Britain's top treasure". The Daily Telegraph.
  8. ^ "Britain's Secret Treasures Episode One". Portable Antiquities Scheme. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  9. ^ "Britain's Secret Treasures Episode Two". Portable Antiquities Scheme. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Britain's Secret Treasures Episode Three". Portable Antiquities Scheme. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Britain's Secret Treasures Episode Four". Portable Antiquities Scheme. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  12. ^ "Britain's Secret Treasures Episode Five". Portable Antiquities Scheme. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  13. ^ "Britain's Secret Treasures Episode Six". Portable Antiquities Scheme. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  14. ^ "Britain's Secret Treasures Episode 1".
  15. ^ "Send in your discoveries". Portable Antiquities Scheme. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  16. ^ "The bronze booklet with the amazing story". Retrieved 23 July 2012.[dead link]

External links[edit]