Hoards & Major Finds

If you discover an in situ find (such as a hoard or burial)

Firstly congratulations, it’s not a common occurrence and is often a once in a lifetime event. You’ll probably be shocked and excited and a whole range of emotions. Difficult though it is you need to stop digging, take a breath and just take it all in before you do anything else.

  • Don’t dig any more. Stop for a few minutes and work out if you have found an in situ hoard (a concentrated deposit of finds) or if it is dispersed (for example a coin hoard scattered by ploughing). Coin scatters can be collected, noting the find spot of each one. If it’s a hoard please see below on what to do next. If in doubt you should seek advice from your Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) before excavating further. If you can’t get hold of FLO please contact the NCMD on the emergency number below who can help.

    This document may also be helpful:
    Advice for Finders of Archaeological Objects & Treasure

  • If it’s a hoard cover the deposit up and make a note of the find spot. Use the NCMD App to record the finds spot. The App records location data using What3Words, OS Grid References and Latitude/Longitude. Check the location has been recorded correctly. It’s also a good idea to take photos of landmarks, etc. that can help you locate it again if all else fails! If you carry on you may destroy important archaeological information, and any treasure reward you are eligible for may be reduced.

  • Do not be tempted to phone all your friends and family to share the news. Or, even worse, post up information about your find on social media. You need to protect the details of your site as it will take time to get expert help. People talk and the last thing you want is to worry about is the security of the land.
  • You should only call two people – the landowner, and the correct authority to provide advice and help. For human remains call the police on 101. If it’s a hoard or other important historical item(s) then you can contact the NCMD major finds excavation hotline on 0800 002 5808 and someone will call you back. Alternatively call your local FLO. Their details can be found by CLICKING HERE.

  • If you are in England or Wales then you can access the NCMD Major Finds Excavation Fund. This is a joint initiative with the Portable Antiquities Scheme and is sponsored by the NCMD. The NCMD has a list of out of hours emergency numbers for the Portable Antiquities Scheme staff. We can contact them on your behalf getting you help and advice, and get the ball rolling to get the hoard excavated quickly and correctly.

  • If you are in Scotland please email ncmdsr@gmail.com in the first instance – do not call the hotline. 
    Please note you should not share the find spot details with anyone at this stage and you will not be asked to share that detail with the NCMD. We just need to know the general area (i.e. nearest town). You must be a current member of NCMD to access this fund.

  • The FLO will arrange everything. We will authorise funding for the excavation with the Finds Liaison Officer (FLO). The FLO will then take over arranging details and be able to advise you when an archaeological excavation can be organised. In normal circumstances this could take many weeks but with NCMD funding the it can usually be arranged within days or, if qualified field archeologists are available, on the same day.