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The Treasure Act

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

On 24th September 1997, the Treasure Act 1996 came into force in England and Wales. This Act replaced the common law of Treasure Trove in these countries, and was extended on 1st January 2003. Under the Treasure Act, there is a legal obligation to report all finds of Treasure.

What is Treasure?

The following finds are Treasure under the Act, if found after 24th September 1997 (or, in the case of category 2, if found after 1st January 2003):

1. Any metallic object, other than a coin, provided that at least 10% by weight of metal is precious metal (that is, gold or silver) and that it is at least 300 years old when found. If the object is of prehistoric date it will be Treasure provided any part of it is precious metal.

2. Any group of two or more metallic objects of any composition of prehistoric date that come from the same find.

3. All coins from the same find provided they are at least 300 years old when found (but if the coins contain less than 10% of gold or silver there must be at least ten of them). Only the following groups of coins will normally be regarded as coming from the same find:

  • hoards that have been deliberately hidden
  • smaller groups of coins, such as the contents of purses, that may have been dropped or lost
  • votive or ritual deposits.

4. Any object, whatever it is made of, that is part of the same find as another object that is Treasure. An object or coin is part of the 'same find' as another object or coin if it is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, the other object. Finds may have become scattered since they were originally deposited in the ground.

5. Any object that would previously have been Treasure Trove, but does not fall within the specific categories given above. Only objects that are less than 300 years old, that are made substantially of gold or silver, that have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery and whose owners or heirs are unknown will come into this category.

What objects do not qualify as Treasure?

The following types of find are not Treasure:

  • objects whose owners can be traced
  • unworked or natural objects, including human and animal remains, even if they are found in association with Treasure
  • objects from the foreshore which are wreck
  • single coins found on their own
  • groups of coins lost one by one over a period of time.

If in doubt, it is always safest to report your find. Your local Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) will be glad to record all archaeological objects that you find. The FLO for Herefordshire and Shropshire is Peter Reavill, who is based at Ludlow Museum (telephone 01584 813641). Details of FLOs for other areas can be found at http://finds.org.uk/, e-mail info@finds.org.uk or telephone 020 7323 8611.