The Treasure Act

Coronavirus: important advice on reporting public finds, including potential Treasure, during the coming period

Under the Treasure Act 1996, it is a legal obligation for the finder to report potential Treasure. For all new finds of potential Treasure, finders must notify their local Finds Liaison Officer and/or the British Museum treasure team (in England) by email (treasure@britishmuseum.org), with photographs of the object and full details of the findspot, finders' and landowners' details, and await further instruction. The necessary precautions mean there may be delays in the Treasure process. We thank finders, landowners, occupiers and everyone involved in the process for their understanding, patience and cooperation during this time.

Portable Antiquities Scheme staff will no longer meet finders in person or undertake outreach work until further notice. Most Portable Antiquities Scheme staff, including Finds Liaison Officers, will remain contactable by email, so, therefore, can advise on the recording of finds (such as self-recording). We ask that you temporarily retain your non-Treasure finds for full recording at a later date. Please ensure that you keep detailed records of the findspot in accordance with the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal-Detecting in England and Wales.

Finders in Wales and Northern Ireland should contact the relevant authorities for advice.

Following the latest government social distancing guidance, advising everyone to stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS, do not metal detect during the current situation. All metal-detecting rallies should be cancelled.

The bowl from the Harrogate hoard

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