News Article:

It's Finders Keepers For Treasure Seekers

Treasure hunters who search for valuables on their own property can soon claim a share of anything they find, thanks to the 1996 Treasure Act.

The new Act updates common Law precedents in England and Wales which date from the Middle Ages and are described as a medieval lottery. It is the reason why only a few of the 400,000 or more objects of archaeological interest discovered each year are recorded.

But a warning comes from expert Archie Read, of Knight Frank's Rural Consultancy Department: if permission to search your land has been given, the reward goes to the finder, unless a written agreement between the parties has been previously drawn up stating otherwise.

But where a finder is a trespasser, the landowner may be entitled to share in any reward.

The new Act will come into power following publication of a code of practice due in early 1997. In the past, objects could be determined as treasure trove only after passing three tests. They had to contain a substantial proportion of gold or silver; their original owner or heirs were unknown; they were thought to have been left behind with the intention to reclaim.