The Treasure Act 1996 replaced the common law of treasure trove in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Treasure finds must be reported to the Coroner for the area where the find was made.
Finds of possible treasure must be reported within fourteen days of the date the find was made, or within fourteen days of it being realised (perhaps when the find is shown to a specialist) that it may be treasure.
Dorset's Portable Antiquities Scheme Finds Liaison Officer or Senior Archaeologist (Promotion and Liaison) can advise on the need to report finds and assist with completing the Treasure Report Form and finders can use our treasure tracker to see the latest news on their find.
The Treasure Act 1996 came into effect on 24 September 1997, and the definition of treasure was extended on 1 January 2003 when the Treasure (Designation) Order 2002 extended the definition of treasure to include metal prehistoric finds with a low precious metal content. Treasure is now defined as:
- any metallic object (but not coins) found after 24 September 1997 which is over 300 years old (when found) and containing at least 10% by weight of gold or silver
- any group of two or more metallic objects of any composition and of prehistoric date that come from the same find
- all coins from the same find provided they are at least 300 years old when found. If the coins contain less than 10% gold or silver, there must be at least ten of them
- any object, whatever it is made of, that is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, another object that is treasure
- any object that would previously have been treasure trove, but not covered by any of the above. That is, objects that are less than 300 years old, made substantially of gold or silver, that have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery and whose owners (or their heirs) are unknown
- objects are part of the 'same find' if they are found in the same place, or had previously been together and have been scattered (perhaps by ploughing) since being deposited. Objects may well be part of the 'same find' (in an archaeological sense) even if they have been found at different times
The government is holding a public consultation on proposals for revising the definition of treasure in the Treasure Act 1996 and related codes of practice, the closing date is 11.45pm on 30 April 2019.
Everyone, including archaeologists, is required to report finds of possible treasure. Failure to declare finds of treasure may lead to prosecution, leading to a fine or custodial sentence.
Nationally, the treasure process is overseen by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.