Information for finders of archaeological objects which classify as treasure and for the use of metal detectors in treasure finding.

Archaeological objects

On occasion certain types of archaeological objects are uncovered in Northern Ireland which are classified as treasure. Such objects fall under special legislation called The Treasure Act 1996, which replaces the common law of treasure trove in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Objects classified as treasure have to be dealt with under special procedures separate to that for other types of archaeological objects.

Historic Environment Division have produced a leaflet, The Treasure Act: Information for Finders of Treasure in Northern Ireland which provides further details.

If you suspect you have discovered treasure, or any other archaeological object, you should contact the Historic Environment DIvision, the Ulster Museum or your local PSNI station as soon as possible.

Metal detecting

Metal detectorists should be aware of the restrictions on searching for archaeological objects imposed by the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995.

Under this Order it is an offence to search for archaeological objects without an archaeological excavation licence issued by us. It is also an offence to be in possession of a detecting device on a protected site (Scheduled or State Care monuments) or to remove an archaeological object from a protected site without written consent from us.

Historic Environment Division have  produced a guidance leaflet entitled Metal Detecting, Archaeology and the Law which gives advice on the main points of the law regarding metal detecting in Northern Ireland.

Structure and contacts

View the Historic Environment Division structure and contacts

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