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Portable Antiquities Scheme

Somerset and Dorset leaflet

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a national scheme for the voluntary recording of finds. Dorset and Somerset run a joint scheme, and our Finds Liaison Officers can help with identification.

Every year many thousands of archaeological objects are discovered in England and Wales. People using metal detectors unearth most of these, but chance finds are also made by those out walking or digging in their gardens, or just out and about in the countryside.

In the past very little of this material was recorded by museums or archaeologists and lots of important information was lost. In response to this, in 1997 the Department for Culture, Media and Sport set up Finding Our Past: the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a voluntary scheme to encourage people to report their finds for recording.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme aims to:

  • Advance knowledge of the history and archaeology of England and Wales by systematically recording archaeological objects found by the public
  • Raise awareness among the public of the educational value of archaeological finds in their context and facilitate research
  • Increase opportunities for active public involvement in archaeology and strengthen links between metal detector users and archaeologists
  • Encourage all those who find archaeological objects to make them available for recording and to promote best practice by finders

Make an important contribution to knowledge and understanding about the past, both locally and nationally, by reporting your finds. Show your finds to our Finds Liaison Officer at events around the county.

This scheme is voluntary. You are not legally obliged to report finds unless there is a possibility that they are treasure.

Information about the national scheme, including contact information for Finds Liaison Officers in other parts of the country, can be found on the  Finding Our Past website (opens in a new window).

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