Protecting our Archaeological
Heritage for the Nation.

Information For Archaeologists

Excavation assemblages are also considered bona vacantia and must be reported to the Treasure Trove unit.

An assemblage only has to be declared 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 should be stored by the excavator until allocation.

To report an excavation assemblage, submit a reporting form with a completed report. This can be e-mailed to or posted to the unit on a CD.

If an assemblage is allocated to a museum, the excavator will be informed of the decision and delivery/collection should be arranged by the recipient 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.


Standard Organised Fieldwork Reporting Form


Removal of Finds from Scotland

Excavation material cannot be removed from Scotland without permission. Post excavation analysis and specialist work is an integral part of the process of excavation and should material need to be taken to facilities outside Scotland, an application form (below) must be completed and submitted prior to transport. This is a straightforward process and permission is normally given, provided that certain simple requirements are met.


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


This requirement applies to 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.

The archaeologist to whom consent is issued undertakes full responsibility for any finds while they are outside Scotland, along with their full declaration and repatriation at the appropriate time.

For material which will be removed outwith the UK, the excavator should submit a full database or spreadsheet, as well as the standard application form. This should list all of the objects that will be removed.

Excavators 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, unless the above procedures are followed. Under this legislation, finds will effectively be illegally held if removed without prior written consent.

Environmental samples and both human and animal remains 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; special permission is not necessary for material remaining in Scotland. However, all analysis methods should be detailed in applications seeking to remove finds from Scotland. 

Analysis which will wholly or significantly destroy artefactual material should be discussed with the Treasure Trove Unit.


Human remains

The Crown has no ownership rights over human remains, although they are processed through Treasure Trove when associated with larger assemblages. Assemblages that consist entirely of human skeletal remains cannot be processed by the Treasure Trove Unit.