Monday, 12 November 2012

The Treasure Act Explained: but not put in Context

The Glasgow team continue to add various snippets to their website. The latest to appear will be helpful to all those US coin collectors who so admire the "British stystem' but without really knowing what it is. This is an introductory text called "Treasure (United Kingdom context)" by Suzie Thomas. The title is wrong, as instead of given due weight to other parts of the United Kingdom, it in fact focuses on the English and Welsh definition. For example there are relatively few details on the background to the Scottish system, which is odd considering where it was written. What is also odd is that the text is placed in the 'terminology' section, rather than 'law' (a section which strangely, for a criminological institute, still has nothing whatsoever in it). Surely in a project which is supposed to be assessing these laws, there should be a more detailed and informative discussion of the Treasure Act and the need for its reform.

One might however ask why when the project has a clear European dimension, only one definition of the word is given. The the term has other meanings, apart from the obvious colloquial one which is certainly not wholly devoid of the characteristics of a terminology (for example the contents of the Treasury of an instituition such as a cathedral), also one might have expected at least a reference in  text all about Britain of the term "Treasure hunters" as applied to metal detectorists (a term they themselves would prefer was not mentioned - perhaps why Ms Thomas refrains from doing so? It is the title of a hobby magazine though).

The term treasure (trésor, Schatz) does however have a terminological use in non-British legal systems, such as the status of 'treasure' in the civil codes of countries like France, or the issue of treasure hunting permits outside the bounds of archaeological legislation in countries like Germany and Poland. Then there is the equally complex issue of maritime treasure salvage laws.  All of these very much have relevance to the problem of "trafficking culture", and it is disappointing to find that a fuller explanation is dodged.

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