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Reporting a find of Treasure

This information is taken from the Portable Antiquities Scheme's leaflet Advice for Finders of Archaeological Objects, including Treasure.

Reporting a find

All finds of Treasure must be reported to the local Coroner within 14 days of the find being made, or within 14 days after the day on which you realised the find might be Treasure (for example, as a result of having it identified). The obligation to report Treasure finds applies to everyone, including archaeologists. Finds can be reported in person, by letter, fax, telephone or e-mail: the Finds Liaison Officer for Herefordshire (Peter Reavill, telephone 01584 813641) will be able to help you to do this. You will always receive an acknowledgement and information on where to deposit your find. The Coroner for Herefordshire is D M Halpern, 36/37 Bridge Street, Hereford, HR4 9DJ, telephone 01432 355301.

Where will I have to take my find?

In each Coroner's district, there is a local agreement between the Coroner, the Finds Liaison Officer (FLO), local government archaeological officers (in Wales, the Regional Archaeological Trusts) and local or national museums, about where Treasure finds should be deposited. Since 2003, a national network of FLOs has been established across the whole of England and Wales. The FLOs are the main point of contact for Treasure finds. (Details of local FLOs can be found athttp://finds.org.uk/, e-mail info@finds.org.uk or telephone 020 7323 8611.)

Upon depositing the find you will be given a receipt. You will need to provide information about exactly where you made the find, wherever possible to the equivalent of a six-figure National Grid Reference. In official dealings, the parish or a four-figure National Grid Reference (1km²) will be used, whilst a more general location description may be used for particularly sensitive finds. It is strongly recommended that you and the landowner should keep the find-site location confidential.

The body or individual receiving the find will notify the Historic Environment Record as soon as possible (if that has not already happened), so that the site where the find was made can be investigated by archaeologists if necessary.

What if I do not report a find of Treasure?

The penalty for not reporting a find that you believe (or there is good evidence for believing) to be Treasure, without a reasonable excuse, is imprisonment for up to three months, a fine of up to £5,000 (level 5), or both. You will not be breaking the law if you do not report a find because you did not at first recognise that it might be Treasure, but you should report it once you realise this.

What if the find is identified as Treasure?

If the find is Treasure the British Museum or the National Museums Wales will be informed. They will then ascertain whether they or any other museum wishes to acquire it from the Crown.

If no museum wishes to acquire, the Secretary of State will disclaim it. The Coroner will then notify the landowner that the object is to be returned to you after 28 days, unless the landowner objects. If there is an objection, the Coroner will retain the find until the dispute is resolved.

What if the find is not identified as Treasure?

If the find is not Treasure, the Coroner will be informed and the find would normally be returned to you without the holding of an inquest.

What if a museum wishes to acquire the find?

The Coroner will hold an inquest to decide whether the find is Treasure. If the find is declared to be Treasure then it will be taken to the British Museum so that a valuation can be recommended by the Treasure Valuation Committee: this amount is what a museum will pay to acquire the find. However, the Department of Culture, Media & Sport wishes to encourage finders and landowners to consider donating their finds (therefore waiving their right to this financial reward) and gives certificates to all those who do. This in no way prejudices the rights of finders and landowners to claim a reward if they so choose.

How is a fair market value for a Treasure find arrived at?

The Treasure Valuation Committee, which consists of independent experts, values all finds that museums wish to acquire. The Committee will commission a valuation from one or more experts drawn from the antiquities or coin trades. You, the landowner and the acquiring museum will have the option to comment on this valuation, and/or to send in a separate valuation for the Committee to consider. The Committee will inspect the find and arrive at a valuation. If you are then dissatisfied with the Committee's recommendation, there are opportunities to appeal. If you are still dissatisfied, you can then appeal to the Secretary of State.

What if the Coroner or the National Museum loses or damages my find?

They are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that this does not happen but, if it does, you should be compensated.

Who is eligible to receive a share of the reward?

This is set out in detail in the Treasure Act Code of Practice. To summarise:

  • the finder who has obtained permission to be on the land from its owner, and acted in good faith
  • the landowner
  • the person who occupies the particular site as a tenant of the owner (unless this is precluded by the terms of the tenancy agreement).

Who is not eligible to receive a share of the reward?

  • An archaeologist who makes a Treasure find
  • A finder or landowner who has acted in bad faith, and not in accordance with the Treasure Act Code of Practice, may expect a reduced share of the valuation, or none at all.

How long will it take before I receive my reward?

The period between the find being received by the Coroner, or by the organisation to whom he/she has directed that the find be delivered, and the payment of an ex gratia reward should not be longer than twelve months (provided no challenges are made), although it may be necessary to exceed this period in exceptional cases such as large hoards of coins, or finds that present particular difficulties.

Further advice about Treasure

Finders are strongly advised to obtain a copy of the Treasure Act Code of Practice, which provides further information about the Act, including guidance on the payment of rewards and advice on the care of finds. It also has lists of useful contact addresses. The Code can be downloaded from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport's website (http://www.culture.gov.uk/) or obtained from the British Museum's Treasure Registrar, your Finds Liaison Officer or through the National Council for Metal Detecting (http://www.ncmd.co.uk/) or the Federation of Independent Detectorists (http://www.detectorists.net/http://www.fid.newbury.net/).