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Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS)


The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary initiative, funded and supported by the British Museum and Durham County Council, which aims to record archaeological objects found by members of the public and in doing so record the heritage of our region.

The County Durham, Darlington and Teesside regions have a full-time Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) based in County Hall in Durham City. Please always contact the FLO before you come into the office to ensure they are available. For more information about the Portable Antiquities Scheme, please contact us.

Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS)

Why are antiquities important?

Portable antiquities are an invaluable resource, and reveal important information about the past. By reporting your finds you will be making an important contribution to knowledge and understanding about the past, both locally and nationally. The national Portable Antiquities Scheme provides a system for the voluntary recording of these objects to ensure that this valuable information is not lost.

The aims of the Portable Antiquities Scheme

  • To advance knowledge of the history and archaeology of England and Wales by systematically recording archaeological objects found by the public.
  • To raise awareness among the public of the educational value of archaeological finds in their context and facilitate research.
  • To increase opportunities for active public involvement in archaeology and strength links between metal-detector users and archaeologists.
  • To encourage all those who find archaeological objects to make them available for recording and to promote best practice by finders.

Finds Liaison Officers (FLO)

Finds Liaison Officer

Finds Liaison Officers have been employed through the scheme to liaise with metal detecting societies and individuals to record their finds of all kinds (usually over 200 years old) and strengthen links between detectorists, the public and archaeologists. As part of the scheme the Finds Liaison Officer can offer:

  • Finds identification and recording.
  • Advice on storage and conservation.
  • Advice on the Treasure Act and help for finders of potential treasure.

The FLO generally records artefacts for people who live within the County. This does not mean you can only record items from within those areas, just that we visit the metal detecting clubs within these areas and are based within the region. If you find any archaeological object from England or Wales then come and visit whichever FLO is nearest to you.

The FLO regularly visits metal detecting clubs throughout the county to give talks and identify finds. However, if you are not a member of a metal detecting club or would prefer us to look at your finds outside club meetings you can contact the FLO to make an appointment at the address given above.

Treasure

Some of the objects that are brought to us fall within the Treasure Act 1996, which provides museums with the opportunity to acquire finds made of gold or silver, hoards of coins, or prehistoric tools. All finders of treasure have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Your local Finds Liaison Officer will be happy to help you deal with the paperwork and explain the treasure process to you. 

Additional information about the Portable Antiquities Scheme

How are these finds recorded?

All of the artefacts that we record are placed on a national database where the general public can view an edited version of the records. You can view the objects online on the Portable Antiquities Scheme website.

What types of archaeological finds would you like to record?

We would like to known about everything that you have found - not just metal objects. We record all objects made before about 1,700 and are selective in recording more modern finds. It is often best to let a Finds Liaison Officer see all your finds, especially if you are unsure what they are.

What type of information about my finds do you want?

We would like to record details of the objects that you have found, including a detailed description, its weight and measurements. We would also hope to record where and how they were found, and photograph or draw your finds. If you wish you can have a full report of the information we record.

How long will 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 our care.

Will my finds be taken away from me?

No. We only want to record information about your finds. Museums may sometime be glad to have the opportunity to acquire your non-treasure finds, but this could only happen if you and the landowner agree.

More information

More information about the Portable Antiquities Scheme can be found on the PAS website at www.finds.org.uk

In addition, the Scheme has an active volunteering programme, the PASt Explorers. Again, further information can be found at Portable Antiquities Service: get involved

If this is something you may be interested in, please get in touch with your local FLO.

Romano Celtic Harness Fitting

In partnership with

  • Portable Antiquities Scheme
  • 20 Years of Treasure
Contact us
Archaeology
03000 267 013
Our address is:
  • Heritage, Landscape and Design
  • Regeneration and Economic Development
  • 5th Floor, County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ

Finds Liaison Officer - Durham
03000 267 011
Our address is:
  • Portable Antiquities Scheme
  • Heritage, Landscape and Design (5th Floo
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ
0191 370 8897

Finds Liaison Officer - Newcastle
0191 222 5076
Our address is:
  • Portable Antiquities Scheme
  • Great North Museum
  • Barras Bridge
  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • NE1 7RU
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