Treasure Trove

The Crown has a right to Treasure Trove. It 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.

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 the National Museums of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, the local Procurator Fiscal or to the QLTR Office, Edinburgh (Failure to report a find promptly and hand it over for assessment may result in prosecution for theft or reset). (QLTR's postal address is: Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer Office, Unit 5, 14 South St Andrew Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2AZ)

The finder of TT has no legal claim to a reward, but in practice the QLTR will arrange for payment of an ex-gratia award, up to full market value. The ex-gratia award may be withheld or adjusted 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 whether any item reported as TT should be disclaimed - in which case it is returned to the finder - and when claimed, to which museum the item of TT is to be allocated. SAFAP also recommends the amount of each ex-gratia award, 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 reward can in due course be paid, or, if the Crown waives 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).

There is a useful website which explains the law and procedures on Treasure Trove -