In 1997 the PAS started as a pilot scheme in 6 areas funded by the British Museum, Department of Culture Media and Sport and local partners. The Scheme’s aim was to record the increasing numbers of artefacts of archaeological interest found by members of the public, particularly those using metal detectors. The Scheme was so successful it was extended to cover the entirety of England and Wales and in 2003 Oxfordshire appointed it’s own PAS Finds Liaison Officer (FLO).
Artefacts were, and continue to be brought voluntarily by their finders to FLOs who assess, identify and then record these artefacts on an online database (https://finds.org.uk/). This database is accessible to the public to allow personal and academic research into artefacts and is used by schools to support the national curriculum. Without recording, which involves photographing the artefacts, writing detailed descriptions and dating them, this information would otherwise be lost to the nation and, more specifically the residents of Oxfordshire.
In Oxfordshire the FLO is partnered with and part-funded by the Oxfordshire Museums Service, and operates out of the Museum Resource Centre (MRC) in Standlake. In addition to meeting finders at the MRC the FLO also attends artefact identification sessions at Banbury Museum and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
There are now 40,702 Oxfordshire artefacts and coins recorded on the PAS database. These have been found across almost all parishes in the county. The Oxfordshire objects on the PAS database date from the Palaeolithic, over 15,000 years ago, to the 20th century and include, 2,100 prehistoric artefacts, over 23,000 Roman artefacts, 5,800 Medieval artefacts, and at least 5,500 artefacts from the Tudor times onwards.