Volunteers' guide to recording objects

A horse and rider plate brooch, Roman

This guide was produced by Jessica Bryan and Jen Jackson (Kent County Council).

Download in pdf format (1.8MB)

The Portable Antiquities Scheme sees hundreds of objects added to the database each week. These records are used locally and nationally for research and publications.

The public now has access to the database and finders can contribute their own objects to this important national resource. As a result, the database will become an even more valuable research and reference tool.

This guide introduces finders of objects to the Portable Antiquities Scheme website and explains how to record suitable finds directly onto the database. It provides information on how to describe objects using the correct terminology, and basic information on materials, manufacturing methods and types of objects.

Consistency and accuracy are essential for users to have confidence in the data.

Thank you for taking the time to learn how to use the database.

How we would like you to record on the database?

  • Some people will be happy to just create basic records, uploading measurements, a findspot and a photo, and let the Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) fill in the details. This is perfectly acceptable.
  • Others who have an expert knowledge may be able to fully identify and record their objects How the process will work will be decided on an individual basis by the PAS team including your Finds Liaison Officers.
  • The scheme staff will have ultimate control over the records and reserve the right to edit or delete records.
  • Each county, finder and FLO are different, as such you will have to work closely with
    the PAS team to get the best results

Objects to record and not to record

Please only record items that are over 300 years old on the database, that are considered 'portable antiquities' and that are not from an archaeological excavation on a site (you can read a summary of the
Treasure Act
on this site).  

These lists clearly do not cover all the object types, but just give an idea of what you should, or shouldn't record. If you are in doubt about whether to record something, it is best to ask your FLO.

Examples of the types of objects suitable for volunteers to record:

Examples of the types of objects we would like you to show to your Finds Liaison Officer:

  • Treasure (must be recorded by an FLO)
  • Anything of precious metal or with gemstones
  • All prehistoric metal work
  • Swords and knives
  • Bronze axes
  • Complete vessels
  • Iron Age, Roman and Early Medieval brooches
  • Coins, unless you have an agreement with the PAS team
  • Anything that comes from an area of interest
  • Any rare objects
  • Any item you can't identify