Found Something?

Reporting of Finds for Treasure Trove Assessment:

If you think you have found something of archaeological significance in Scotland, you are obliged by law to report it to Treasure Trove. The following form will help you:

Treasure Trove Reporting Form


What type of object should I report?

Objects are claimed for their archaeological or historical importance rather than financial value, so objects do not have to be precious metal to be considered Treasure Trove. In the recent past the Treasure Trove system has claimed objects ranging from prehistoric stone tools to Jacobite political medals. If you are unsure whether a find may be Treasure Trove you can contact the Treasure Trove Unit for advice.

The simplest way to make contact is to email an image to the Treasure Trove Unit, whose contact details can be found on this website. Even the most unpromising object can be important, and the staff at the Treasure Trove Unit are happy to advise you whether your find is significant or not.

What should I do if I find an object?

If an object or group of objects are discovered, finders should try to:

  • Record as accurately as possible the find-spot i.e. where the object(s) was found, using either a hand-held GPS or by plotting the position on an OS map. Staff at the Treasure Trove Unit are happy to provide advice on recording.
  •  Reduce as much as possible any potential damage to the object (see below)

The find should then be reported to the Treasure Trove Unit as quickly as possible. Reporting forms may be downloaded online, or posted on request. Any images of the object and its find-spot are helpful for initial identification and may be included along with your form or emailed to the Unit using the address provided. Objects can also be deposited with your local museum or Local Authority Archaeologist who can take the object to Edinburgh.

Larger finds, or object in situ, may be sensitive to disturbance as not only are they likely to be fragile, their situation or context may contain valuable archaeological information that could easily be lost. In this event leave the object or group of objects in the ground, using protective covering such as plastic sheeting if necessary. Then contact either your Local Authority Archaeologist or the Treasure Trove Unit immediately and they will provide you with advice on how to proceed.

Do not clean finds or attempt to apply any substances such as wax or lacquer as this will damage the artefact resulting in a loss of valuable information. However if an object is wet and made of wood or textile it is a good idea to keep it damp by keeping it with some of the soil in which it was found and keeping it in a plastic bag.

What Happens When a find is claimed as Treasure Trove?

  1. Finds are deposited with Treasure Trove Unit (TTU) at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh by the finder or via a local museums curator or by another third party.
  2. Finds are then assessed for Treasure Trove purposes.
  3. When a find is suitable for claiming under the laws of bona vacantia / treasure trove, the finder will be informed by the TTU.
  4. Finders will receive a report on the find and a digital photograph for their own records. They will also be informed of the date of the next meeting at which the Panel will consider the find.
  5. The case information is then passed to the QLTR department at the Crown Office. There will normally be no further correspondence with the finder by the TTU.
  6. The QLTR department will write to the finder to advise them that the QLTR accepts the recommendation to claim the find. All further correspondence with the finder will come directly from the QLTR department.
  7. At its next meeting the Panel will recommend to the QLTR:
  8. i) a reward for the find based on current market value where appropriate (rewards do not apply to finds from organised fieldwork, including excavation)
  9. ii) the most appropriate museum to be allocated the find.
  10. Following the Panel meeting, the TTU will contact all museums which have bid for finds to advise them of the Panel’s recommendations. Museums then have 14 days in which to accept or reject the proposed allocation and reward for the finds they have bid for.
  11. At the end of the 14 day period, the TTU will notify the QLTR of the Panel’s recommendations.
  12. If the QLTR accepts the Panel’s recommendation the finder will receive a letter informing them of the amount of any reward being paid and the name of the museum which will house find.
  13. The QLTR department will then write to the museum which has been allocated the find and request payment for the finder’s reward. Finders can waive a reward thereby saving a museum the purchase price of the find.
  14. In some cases, the QLTR or the Panel may need to postpone a case until further information is sought. This can occur when more than one museum is competing for a find or when an object is rare or unusual and specialist advice or analyses are required. 13. The majority of cases will proceed without delays and the finder will be sent a cheque for the reward after the recipient museum has paid this to the Crown Office.
  15. The entire process is normally completed within 12 months from the date of claiming the object.

 Ex gratia Awards

The finder of an object deemed to be Treasure Trove is eligible for a reward to recognise their role in securing the object for the national heritage. There are common misperceptions about how an ex gratia payment is decided and this section is intended to provide guidance and information for finders.

The ex gratia payment is based on the current market value of the object and the Treasure Trove Unit use information from recent sales and auctions to ensure the information is up to date. Where appropriate the Treasure Trove Unit will also commission independent valuations. The finder of the object also has the opportunity to submit evidence as to the value of their find.

The reward is based on the sum it would take to purchase an equivalent object on the antiquities market rather than the sum a dealer might pay for an object; thus it will be considerably higher than the offer a dealer might make. The ex gratia payment can be increased to reflect good conduct on the part of the finder, and can be reduced if the object has been damaged.