Frequently asked questions about the Portable Antiquities Scheme
Answers to the most common questions about the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
Am I legally obliged to report all my finds?
No. The scheme is entirely voluntary. However, you must report any finds which constitute treasure or which you believe may be treasure. For more information about your responsibilities under the Treasure Act 1996 visit the Portable Antiquities Scheme website.
What type of find does the scheme cover?
We would like to know about everything you have found. Not just metal objects, but finds such as worked flint and pottery. We record all objects made before around AD 1650, and may be selective in recording finds of later objects.
What information do you want?
First of all we will want to record full details of the objects with descriptions, including weights and measurements, and sketches. In some cases the finds may be particularly important or interesting, in which case they will be photographed, digitally scanned or drawn. It is also very important to know where finds come from, so grid references or sketch maps would be helpful. We would also hope to record information about how the land is used; for example, a ploughed field or in a garden.
Will my finds be taken away from me?
Your finds will not be taken away from you. The important thing about your finds, from the point of view of the scheme, is the information they provide.
How long will you borrow my finds for?
At the time of borrowing, we will tell you how long it is likely to take to record your finds, and advise you of any unforeseen delays. Identifying and recording your finds may take a while, particularly if we need to seek an opinion from a specialist in a particular period or finds type.
Who will have access to information about my finds?
The aim of the scheme is to make as much information available as possible while protecting archaeological sites and your personal details. Details of finds will be recorded on a computerised database which will be available on the internet, giving anyone who is interested access to the exciting new information generated by the scheme. Precise find hotspots will not be made available on the internet. Summaries of the information will also be passed to the local Historic Environment Records.
Is the scheme only for metal detectorists?
No, the Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs) will identify and record any finds made by chance through activities such as metal detecting or gardening, or on a walk in the countryside. The terms of reference of the Portable Antiquities Scheme place some limits on what FLOs can identify - they won't record relatively modern finds, for example, or material recovered in the course of organised archaeological activity.