Portable Antiquities and the Treasure Act
Portable Antiquities Recording Scheme in Wales
The aims of the scheme are
To achieve this, the scheme is intending to record all objects, whatever they are made of, found by any member of the public anywhere in Wales - not just metal objects found by metal detector users.
Who is involved in the scheme ?
What do I do if I find something?
What types of find should I report ?
You should also remember that since the introduction of the Treasure Act in 1997 (see below) you are breaking the law if you do not report the finding of most objects made of precious metal (including many types of coin), so if you are in any doubt ... report it !
How will my find be recorded ?
It may be possible for the reporting centre to identify and record your find on the spot after which you can take them away with you. However, the reporting centre may wish, with your permission, to photograph or draw them or to seek further opinion, in which case they will ask that you leave the finds with them while they do this. They will give you a receipt for anything that you leave with them.
All the information gathered by the reporting centre will be passed to Dyfed Archaeological Trust, who will put it into a central database, which will be used by the co-ordinators of the scheme. Dyfed Archaeological Trust will also copy some of this information into the Historic Environment Record. Precise details of findspots will normally be available only to the scheme's co-ordinator (the Finds Liaison Officer at the National Museum of Wales), the Historic Environment Record of Dyfed Archaeological Trust and other statutory bodies such as Cadw:Welsh Historic Monuments and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, and while each of these may wish to use the data within their own organisations they will not make public any information about you or your find if you do not wish them to.
It is intended to release summary information about finds and findspots on the Internet (see 'Portable Antiquities Scheme' on our Links page), but for the present the findspots of objects will not be identified more precisely than the community in which they were found. Academic researchers who would like more detailed information may be given four-figure grid references or similarly generalised details. In due course museum or Trust staff may wish to publish information about more important or unusual finds reported under the scheme, but this will be fully discussed with finders/owners first.
The aim is to make as much of the information as widely available as possible, while protecting archaeological sites from damage. Your personal information will be protected by the Data Protection Act (1984).
An information sheet Recording Our Past (a guide to the Government's initiative to promote the voluntary recording of archaeological finds in England and Wales) and Portable Antiquities: Annual Report 1997-98 explain this scheme in more detail. Both these and further information about the scheme may be obtained from Mark Lodwick, Finds Co-ordinator:Wales, Department of Archaeology & Numismatics, National Museums & Galleries of Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF1 3NP Tel. 01222/02920 573226 or the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5DH.
The Treasure Act (1996)
The Portable Antiquities Recording Scheme discussed above is an entirely voluntary scheme which encourages people to report their finds. However, under the 1996 Treasure Act everyone is legally required to report Treasure, or that which they believe may be Treasure. The Act came into force on 24th September 1997 and replaced the common law of Treasure Trove.
The following is a non-definitive summary of the Treasure Act and has no legal standing - information about Treasure and the Treasure Act can be obtained from the Department of Archaeology & Numismatics, National Museums & Galleries of Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF1 3NP or the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5DH.
'Treasure' is defined under the Act as:
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 left together with, the other object. Finds may have become scattered since they were originally deposited in the ground. However, single coins found on their own are not treasure. Only the following groups of coins will normally regarded as coming from the 'same find':
The following are not Treasure:
Objects from the foreshore
If an object found on the foreshore is subsequently defined legally as ‘wreck’ then it is not counted as treasure. However, objects from the foreshore can be defined as treasure if they are not defined as ‘wreck’ and they fit the selection criteria for the Act above.
Scope of the Act and the Order
The Act and the Order apply to objects found anywhere in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including in or on land, in buildings, in rivers and lakes and on the foreshore (that is the area between mean high water and mean low water on beaches and tidal river banks), provided that the object does not come from a wreck. However, if the original owner or his heirs can show that the object belongs to them, and then their claim will be superior to that of the crown.
The Treasure (designation) Order 2002 added to the definition of treasure prehistoric base-metal assemblages. These are groups (defined as one of the last two) of base-metal objects, other than coins, of prehistoric date, i.e. up to, and including, the Iron Age, from the same find.
The Treasure (designation) Order 2002 also added to the definition of treasure objects, other than coins, of prehistoric date, i.e. up to, and including the Iron Age, any part of which is precious metal, regardless of the percentage of precious metal by weight of metal. In practice it is not expected that a single prehistoric base-metal objects in which the precious-metal component is only a trace element would be claimed as treasure. Finders are reminded that under section 8 of the Act they are required to report only the objects they believe, or have reasonable grounds for believing; to be treasure. If in any doubt finders are advised to seek expert advice.
Objects found on consecrated ground
Objects found on consecrated ground (except for treasure
trove) are covered by the Church of England’s own legal systems
If you are in any doubt, it will probably be safest to report your find. You must report all finds of Treasure to the coroner for the district in which they are found either within 14 days after the day on which you found it or within 14 days of the day on which you realised that it might be treasure (for example, as a result of having it identified). You will not be breaking the law if you do not report a find because you do not initially recognise that it may be treasure, but you may be if you do not report it once you realise it is.
The obligation to report finds applies to everyone. Failure to report such finds, without good reason, may lead to imprisonment for up to three months or a fine (currently up to £5000), or both.
You may report your find to the coroner in person, by letter, telephone or fax. The coroner will send you an acknowledgement and normally tell you to take your find to a local museum or local archaeological body (Dyfed Archaeological Trust). The receiving body will give you a receipt. Although they will need to know where you found the object and other details about you, they will keep this information confidential if you or the landowner wish. The Historic Environment Record of Dyfed Archaeological Trust will be notified as soon as possible, so that the site where the find was made can be investigated by archaeologists if necessary.
If either the National Museums & Galleries of Wales or a local museum wish to acquire the object then the coroner will hold an inquest to determine if it is Treasure. The coroner will inform the finder and any other interested party about the inquest, and they will be able to attend and to question witnesses. If the find is declared to be Treasure then it will be valued, on behalf of the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), by a committee of independent experts. If there are no objections to this valuation, DCMS will invoice the museum wishing to acquire the object and on receipt of payment will pay the finder a reward. The level of this reward will be set by the coroner, but will not exceed the independent experts' valuation.
If the find is declared not to be Treasure, or if no museum wishes to acquire it, then it will be disclaimed. The coroner will then notify all interested parties, such as the owner of the land where the object was found, of his intention to return the find to the finder. If no objections are raised to this then the find will be returned.
Museums may still wish to acquire objects returned to finders, as they may be of local or national interest, and may approach them with this intention; this falls outside the terms of the Act.
For further information you should consult:
Both are free and are obtainable, in English or Welsh, from the National Museums & Galleries of Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF1 3NP or the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5DH.
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