Detecting Code of Conduct & The Law.

  1.  Do not trespass. Obtain permission before venturing on to any land.

  2. Respect the Country Code, leave gates and property as you find them and do not damage crops, frighten animals or disturb nesting birds.

  3. Wherever the site, do not leave a mess or an unsafe surface for those who may follow. It is perfectly simple to extract a coin or other small object buried a few inches below the ground without digging a great hole. Use a suitable digging implement to cut a neat flap (do not remove the plug of earth entirely from the ground), extract the object, reinstate the grass, sand or soil carefully, and even you will have difficulty in locating the find spot again.

  4. If you discover any live ammunition or any lethal object such as an unexploded bomb or mine, do not disturb it. Mark the site carefully and report the find to the local police and landowner.

  5. Help keep Britain tidy. Safely dispose of refuse you come across.

  6. Report all unusual historical finds to the landowner, and acquaint yourself with current NCMD policy relating to the Voluntary Reporting of Portable Antiquities in England and Wales and the mandatory reporting requirements in Scotland. See:

  7. Remember it is illegal for anyone to use a metal detector on a designated area (e.g. Scheduled Monuments (SM), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), or Ministry of Defence property) without permission from the appropriate authority. It is also a condition of most agri-environment agreements that metal detecting access is subject to certain rules and regulations including mandatory finds recording. Details of these agreements and the access conditions they impose are detailed on the NCMD website.

  8. Acquaint yourself with the terms and definitions used in the following documents: - (1) "Treasure" contained in the Treasure Act 1996 and its associated Code of Practice, making sure you understand your responsibilities.
    (2) Advice for Finders of Archaeological Objects including Treasure 2006.
    (3) The voluntary Code of Practise for Responsible Metal Detecting to which the NCMD is an endorsee.
    (4) Advice for finders in Scotland: see
  9. Remember that when you are out with your metal detector you are an ambassador for our  hobby. Do nothing that might give it a bad name.
  10. Never miss an opportunity to explain your hobby to anyone who asks about it.

    Appendix A to the NCMD Constitution
    Revised February 2000
    Amended AGM June 2012

The Law.

You must report treasure to the local coroner within 14 days of finding it.

You only need to report items officially defined as treasure.
There is a fine of up to £3,000 or 3 months in prison for not reporting treasure.
You can voluntarily report items to the Portable Antiquities Scheme if they aren’t treasure but are still of cultural or historical interest. This is to help keep a record of all finds in England and Wales.
There are different rules for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

After a find is reported
A local Finds Liaison Officer will contact you to talk about how and where you made the find and to give you a receipt.
They’ll write a report on the find. Museums can express an interest in it if it’s treasure.
The coroner will then hold an inquest. You may be invited to the inquest, along with the site occupier and landowner of where the treasure was found, and given the opportunity to ask questions.

If a museum wants the treasure
The Treasure Valuation Committee will decide how much the treasure is worth and how much will go to anyone entitled to a share of the find.
You’ll have the chance to comment on the valuation, along with the site occupier and landowner, or send your own valuation for the committee to consider.
You can also ask the committee to review any decision about the value of the find, or appeal to the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) if they still disagree after a review.

Who gets a share of the reward
You may get a share of the reward if you’re:
  • the finder, and had permission to be on the land and acted in good faith
  • a person or organisation with freehold on the land
  • someone who occupies the land as a tenant of the owner
Archaeologists aren’t entitled to a share of any reward. If you act in bad faith (eg by trespassing or trying to hide the find) you may get a reduced share of the reward, or none at all.
It can take up to 1 year from when the treasure was found until the reward is paid (it’s longer for large or disputed finds).

If the find doesn’t count as treasure or no museum wants it
The items will be returned to you, and the landowner and site occupier informed. They have the chance to object within 28 days.
The coroner will keep the find until any disputes are resolved.

Further help and information
Contact the British Museum for more information about finding treasure.
British Museum Portable Antiquities Scheme
020 7323 8611
You can also contact the British Museum about a specific treasure find.
British Museum Treasure Registry
020 7323 8611
Contact DCMS to appeal a decision made by the Treasure Valuation Committee.
020 7211 6200
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Find out about call charges.

Last updated: 27 June 2014

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