The Watlington Hoard find, part of the PAS British Museum 's work

Treasure and the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Contact details

Phone: +44 (0)20 7323 8611/8618

Write to us:

Portable Antiquities Scheme
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London
WC1B 3DG

Please don't send any archaeological finds in the post.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is managed by the British Museum and records archaeological finds discovered by the public.

It plays a critical role in advancing knowledge, telling stories of past communities and furthering public interest in the past. It's a partnership project, managed by the British Museum (in England) and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

The PAS works with at least 119 national and local partners, and delivers through its network of 40 locally based Finds Liaison Officers, the PAS Central Unit (based at the British Museum), National Finds Advisers, interns and volunteers.

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To date, over 1.4 million items have been recorded, from prehistoric-worked flint to post-medieval dress accessories.

All have been found by everyday people by chance, most through metal detecting. 

All the finds recorded by the Scheme are made publicly available on its online database and are helping to transform our understanding of Britain's past.

The British Museum manages the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and oversees the administration of the Treasure Act 1996 (both in England). We also host the secretariat for Treasure cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Reporting your find

New finds should be reported locally by contacting your local Finds Liaison Officer (FLO).

There's a legal requirement to report all finds of Treasure, as defined by the Treasure Act 1996  – essentially single finds of gold and silver over 300 years old and groups (hoards) of coins and prehistoric metalwork.

Anyone believing they have found Treasure should report it to the Coroner in the district in which it was found.

This should be done within 14 days or seek advice from their local FLO or the Treasure Secretariat at the British Museum. 

For questions regarding Treasure:

Email: treasure@britishmuseum.org

Phone: +44 (0)20 7323 8243/8546

Write to the Treasure department:
Treasure
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London
WC1B 3DG

Research

All archaeological finds recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) or Treasure can be accessed by everyone.

They're made available to all on the PAS online database.

This information is also shared with local (county-based) Historic Environment Records (HERs), which holds data on archaeological sites and monuments.

This data is an essential part of archaeological research in the UK, especially for those wishing to understand how objects were made and used in the past, and further understand the historic landscape (such as how land was settled and used).

Anyone wishing to have high-level access to the data for research purposes may do so by applying to the PAS.

The ways in which PAS data is being used are varied and diverse.

A list of ongoing and past research projects using the data can be found on the PAS website, which includes a list of topic areas that are in need of study.

If you're using PAS data in research and your project isn't listed, please contact us at the British Museum and let us know. Otherwise, it's likely you're not benefiting from the support we can offer in terms of data access, advise on using the data and finds expertise.

New finds are being added to the PAS database every day. This is an organic resource which the PAS is keen for researchers to use so together we can better understand Britain's past. 

History of the PAS

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) was founded in response to the growth of metal detecting, the lack of provision to record these finds, and in the context of the reform of Treasure legislation.

In 1997, the Treasure Act 1996, came into force and with it new protection for archaeological finds.

Although archaeologists welcomed the reform of the law, they expressed concern that many significant items were not covered by the Act, especially those that were not precious metal.

As a result pilot 'schemes' for the voluntary recording of archaeological finds was set up in six areas. A further five post and an Outreach Officer were established in 1999.
 

Funding

Thanks to support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund the PAS was expanded to the whole of England and Wales in 2003, and thereafter (from 2006) funded by the DCMS.

In 2007 the management of the PAS transferred to the British Museum, and is now funded through its grant-in-aid with local partner contributions.

Its network includes 40 locally based Finds Liaison Officers whose role it is to liaise with the public and record their discoveries on the PAS database.

Contact and enquiries

For those wishing to record archaeological finds or report Treasure please contact your local Finds Liaison Officer.

For questions regarding the Portable Antiquities Scheme:

Email: info@finds.org.uk

Phone: +44 (0)20 7323 8611/8618

Write to PAS:
Portable Antiquities Scheme
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London
WC1B 3DG

Please don't send any archaeological finds in the post.

For questions regarding Treasure:

Email: treasure@britishmuseum.org

Phone: +44 (0)20 7323 8243/8546

Write to the Treasure department:
Treasure
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London
WC1B 3DG