What is Treasure?

What is Treasure?

Around 20-30 items legally defined as Treasure are discovered in Wales each year, mostly by metal detectorists.

Under the terms of the 1996 Treasure Act, which replaced the common law of Treasure Trove, members of the public in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are legally required to report items of potential Treasure to the local coroner, or to the Finds Liaison Officer, who will report on the finder’s behalf. In Wales an initial assessment of the item/s is made by experts at the Department of Archaeology and Numismatics at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (AC-NMW), following which a report is sent to the coroner, and a formal inquest is held if a museum wishes to acquire the objects. In many cases Treasure finds will be acquired by AC-NMW for the national collection, but since 2015 the Saving Treasures; Telling Stories [link to Saving Treasures page] project has enabled local museums to make Treasure acquisitions with grant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A find is considered to be Treasure if it is:

  • More than 300 years old and composed of more than 10% of precious metal (silver or gold) by weight, other than a coin;
  • A collection of two or more coins found together provided they are composed of more than 10% precious metal and are more than 300 years old. Ten or more coins over 300 years old found together and composed of less than 10% precious metal;
  • Any item of prehistoric date which has some part of it composed of precious metal, or, a group of at least two items of prehistoric date made from metal of any composition.

If a find is declared Treasure it is then valued by an independent Treasure Valuation Committee in London and a value must be agreed by all parties, the reward being split between the finder and landholder. Museums will now have the right to acquire it for their collections. If it is not declared Treasure it is returned to the finder.

Have you have found something you believe to be Treasure?