The Treasure Act

The bowl from the Harrogate hoard

COVID-19 Update - 15th October 2020

The ongoing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in some changes to the process for finds reported under the Treasure Act 1996. Many people involved in the Treasure process have been off work; those in work have been doing so remotely and avoiding unnecessary travel and minimising contact with others to avoid spreading the disease. This has meant longer than normal processing times for many cases, though measures have been put in place to progress cases where possible.

In many instances, Finds Liaison Officers are writing reports for Coroners on finds where they have been supplied by suitable images, whilst the objects themselves remain in in the safekeeping of finders.

With respect to the valuation of finds which are to be acquired by museums, the usual practice has been for these to come to the British Museum to be inspected by experts in the trade and the Treasure Valuation Committee. At this time it may be desirable for straightforward and common items to be valued remotely (on the basis of images) to enable matters to progress. Interested parties will be kept informed of the valuation of their cases and given the opportunity to object to a remote valuation, with the understanding that it may be some time before it is possible for the items to be seen in person.

The treasure process requires a significant amount of communication between authorities and interested parties. Especially at this time, the biggest thing that finders and landowners can do to assist in the timely processing of their case is to provide up-to-date email addresses.

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On these pages, you can find information about the Treasure Act and its administration. See the menus on the left-hand side of the page for more information.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, all finders of gold and silver objects, and groups of coins from the same finds, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1st January 2003 also qualify as Treasure. See 'What is Treasure?' in the menu on the left for more detailed information on the type of artefacts and coins which need to be reported as potential Treasure.

  1. Advice for finders of Treasure
  2. Full code of practice for the administration of Treasure

Finders of potential Treasure in England and Wales should contact their regional Finds Liaison Officers for help in reporting Treasure and for further advice. By law, finds of potential Treasure must be reported to the Coroner in whose district they were found within 14 days of discovery. Queries about Treasure finds from England should be directed to treasure@britishmuseum.org and queries about finds from Wales should be directed to treasure@museumwales.ac.uk.

For more information on the operation of the Treasure Act and antiquities law in Northern Ireland, see https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/articles/treasure-act-information-finders-treasure-northern-ireland

or write to:

Department for Communities
Causeway Exchange
1-7 Bedford Street
Belfast
County Antrim
BT2 7EG
Tel: 028 9082 9000


The Treasure Act 1996 does not apply in Scotland or the Isle of Man, and the Portable Antiquities Scheme does not operate there.

The laws regarding Portable Antiquities in Scotland are very different than those in England and Wales. Whereas in England and Wales the recording of all non-Treasure finds is voluntary, all archaeological objects found in Scotland should be reported under Treasure Trove.

For more information on the law in Scotland see http://www.treasuretrovescotland.co.uk or write to:

Treasure Trove Unit
National Museums of Scotland
Chambers Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1JF
Tel: 0131 247 4355

Email: info@treasuretrovescotland.co.uk

The laws regarding Portable Antiquities in the Isle of Man are also very different. All archaeological objects found in the Isle of Man should be reported to the national heritage agency and no archaeological object may be exported from the Isle of Man without a licence.

For more information on the law in the Isle of Man please contact:

Manx National Heritage
Manx Museum
Kingswood Grove
Douglas
Isle of Man
Tel: 01624 648000

Email: enquiries@mnh.gov.im
Website: http://www.manxnationalheritage.im/

Wreck

Property found in the sea or the seashore could be from a ship and is known technically as 'wreck'. Wreck is not treasure. All wreck must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. This can be done by downloading a form from the Receiver's website. The address of the Receiver of Wreck is:

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Bay 1/05,
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
Southampton
Hampshire
S015 1EG

Tel: 02380 329474
Website: http://www.mcga.gov.uk