Treasure Trove

The Crown has a right to Treasure Trove and is exercised by the QLTR whose local representative for this purpose is the Procurator Fiscal. There is no statutory definition of Treasure Trove, but it may be described as a "portable antiquity" - and can cover virtually anything (stone, wood, metal, woven material) which has been taken out of the ground and which is thought, on the basis of its age or rarity, worth preserving for the nation.

The law relating to Treasure Trove and the procedures for reporting, processing and allocating Treasure Trove are set out in "Treasure Trove in Scotland - a Code of Practice". A link to the Code can be found under the Treasure Trove Menu on the left hand side of this page.

Since a delay in reporting a find of TT may result in damage or loss to the item, and since the evidence of condition at discovering may be significant, any find of possible TT should be reported as soon as possible to Treasure Trove Unit (TTU), c/o National Museums Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. (Failure to report a find promptly and hand it over for assessment may result in prosecution for theft or reset).

The finder of TT has no legal claim to a reward, but in practice the QLTR will normally arrange for payment of an ex-gratia payment for finds other than by organised archaeological fieldwork up to full market value if a find is allocated to a museum. The ex-gratia payment may however be withheld or adjusted if the finder has behaved inappropriately or the find has been mistreated - for example if the finder does not promptly report the discovery and hand over the item found, having treated it with care while it was under his control. The Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel (SAFAP) (the successor to the TTAP set up in 1969 to advise the QLTR) recommends to which museum the item of TT is to be allocated. SAFAP also recommends the amount of each ex-gratia payment, having considered the current market value.

Where Procurators Fiscal are involved in matters of Treasure Trove, they should ensure that full details of the find and of the finder are taken, so that the ex-gratia payment can in due course be paid, or, if the Crown disclaims  its right to the find, so that the item can be returned to the finder (to keep or dispose of as he or she chooses).

The TTU maintain a useful website about Treasure Trove -