Dorset Museums

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Identifying Finds

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is a voluntary scheme to record archaeological objects found by the public. If recorded, these finds have the potential to tell us much about the past, such as how and where people lived and about the types of objects they made and used.

Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past.

Why not get your finds identified by the county’s specialist Finds Liaison Officer? They will be submitted to a searchable national database before being returned to you.

How can I get my finds identified?

To get your finds discovered in Dorset identified and recorded, contact the local Finds Liaison Officer, Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen.

What happens to my finds?

The PAS only want to record information about your finds, not retain them, so they will give your finds back once recorded unless they are classed as Treasure (see below). Information will be recorded on the national database for everyone to use, although private information like your name won’t be made public and the findspot is only published to a general level. Museums may sometimes be glad to have the opportunity to acquire your non-Treasure finds, but this could only happen if you agree.

How do I know if my object is Treasure?

All finders of gold and silver objects, and groups of coins from the same finds, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Now prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1st January 2003 also qualify as Treasure. If you need advice on the Treasure Act or reporting items of potential treasure contact the Finds Liaison Officer.

How long does it take?

Generally the Finds Liaison Officers prefer to borrow the finds for a time, so they can research and record them properly. You will be issued with a receipt, whilst they are in their care.

Contact the Finds Liaison Officer

If you have found something in Dorset which you wish to be identified, please contact the county’s Finds Liaison Officer:

Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen
Historic Environment Team
Dorset County Council
County Hall
Colliton Park

Tel: 01305 228254