Information for Archaeologists


Organised-Fieldwork Reporting Form:

Standard Organised Fieldwork Reporting Form

Borrow Unallocated Treasure Trove for Research:

Application Form for Authority to Borrow Unallocated Treasure Trove for Research Purposes


Like chance finds, excavation assemblages are considered bona vacantia, the property of the Crown, with the presumption that the assemblage will be allocated to a Scottish museum like any other Treasure Trove case. As the result of a program of organised fieldwork the excavator is not eligible for an ex gratia payment for the reporting of the material. As well as the final allocation of an assemblage, there are a number of other areas where it is important to liaise with the Treasure Trove Unit.

Reporting an assemblage to the Treasure Trove Unit

An assemblage only has to be declared as Treasure Trove once the excavator has finished with post-excavation work and the assemblage is ready for uplift. The material does not have to be physically submitted and stays with the excavator until a decision has been reached.

To report an excavation assemblage please use the following form and submit it to the Treasure Trove Unit with a CD of the completed report. For the majority of cases this is the data structure report or interim report, although a periodical article or similar would be equally acceptable.

At the moment all assemblages are automatically claimed and offered to museums at the three meetings of SAFAP which take place each year. If an assemblage is allocated to a museum the excavator will be informed of the decision and delivery or collection of the assemblage should be arranged between museum and excavator.

If no museum wishes to acquire the assemblage it will be disclaimed as the property of the Crown and can be dealt with as the excavator feels appropriate.

Removal of finds from Scotland

Post excavation analysis and specialist work is an integral part of the process of excavation, but if you wish to remove excavated material from Scotland you should contact the Treasure Trove Unit to arrange permission. This is a straightforward process and permission is normally given provided that certain simple requirements are met.

This requirement covers both excavators who are based outside Scotland and Scottish researchers wishing to send material for analysis elsewhere in the UK or abroad. Any archaeologist based outside Scotland who is intending to undertake fieldwork in Scotland should register their intention in advance with the Treasure Trove Unit. Consent is normally given to allow retention and temporary export of any finds for a specified period (extensions of this period can be agreed when more time is found to be required for finds analysis). The archaeologist to whom the consent is issued undertakes full responsibility for any finds while they are outside Scotland and for their full declaration and repatriation at the appropriate time.

Applications should be submitted on the standard form.

For material which will be removed outwith the UK the excavator should also submit a database or spreadsheet which lists the material to be removed in its entirety.

Archaeologists based outside Scotland who undertake work in Scotland should be aware that their finds will become ‘tainted’ under the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003 recently implemented in England & Wales unless the above procedures are followed. Under this legislation finds will in effect be illegally held if removed without prior written consent.

As environmental samples and both human and animal bones are not considered as bona vacantia permission does not need to be sought before removing such material.

Analytical Analysis

The removal of a small amount of material which does not materially alter –or wholly destroy- an object would be considered a standard post-excavation procedure and would not require special permission. An example would be removing samples from pottery sherds -such as Thin Section Analysis- or similar sampling of stone or bronze objects. However details of such work should be mentioned in any application to remove finds from Scotland (see above).

Any analysis which would wholly or significantly destroy artefactual material should be discussed with the Treasure Trove Unit.

Human remains & Treasure Trove

The processing of excavation assemblages by the Treasure Trove system has always meant that human remains and other skeletal material has been processed through the system as part of larger assemblages, even though the Crown has no ownership rights over human remains. The Treasure Trove Unit cannot accept or process assemblages which consist solely of human skeletal remains. If you have any queries about the suitability of an assemblage please contact the Treasure Trove Unit.


As treasure trove is the property of the Crown under Scots law if you are planning a press release please contact the Treasure Trove Unit first for guidance as to common questions and issues. Badly handled press releases have caused considerable difficulties in the past and have often caused fears that material will disappear overseas or will become the property of the excavator.

When speaking to the press you should bear in mind the following points.

-An excavation assemblage can only be allocated to an accredited museum based in Scotland. The preference is for material to be allocated to a local institution.

-The decision where an assemblage is allocated is taken by the QLTR on the advice of SAFAP.

-Material can only be removed from Scotland for an agreed period with the consent of the QLTR.