Advice for metal detectorists and amateur archaeologists

This page outlines the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes policy for the discovery of potential treasure/site of archaeological interest during amateur surveys and metal detecting.

Archaeological discoveries made during metal detecting can be of tremendous interest and add to the recorded heritage of an area. However, there can be unintended negative impacts.

Make sure you have read the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales before undertaking any surveys.

Reporting a find

If you believe you have uncovered potential treasure or a site of archaeological interest during an amateur archaeological survey, metal detecting survey or rally, make sure you:

  • stop all excavation immediately
  • do not advertise your discovery on social media
  • contact us

Buckinghamshire County Archaeology Service (BCAS)

Our telephone lines are open between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Phone: 01296 674 592

If you make the discovery out of these hours, do your best to make the site secure and then call at the next available opportunity, or leave an answerphone message.

Ensure you understand your legal requirements under the Treasure Act 1996 and its code of practice. Not adhering to this may lead to a reduction of any future reward for the discovery. 

If you find anything undisturbed by the plough or a concentration of objects (a hoard), contact an archaeological unit to attend site to professionally excavate the rest of the treasure and/or any associated archaeological deposits.

Whilst we are happy to advise, neither the Local Authority Archaeological Services nor the Buckinghamshire Portable Antiquities Scheme have the resources to assist with the excavation of unexpected finds or potential treasure.

Failure to ensure the adequate excavation of potential treasure may lead to a reduction of any future reward.

We only recommend commissioning Registered Organisations with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists

Examples of when to contact us

If you are unsure whether you need to stop works and contact the BCAS, the following case studies may be of help.

  1. You find a single gold ring in the topsoil. In such incidents, when you have found an isolated item within the topsoil or plough soil, you may retrieve the item but ensure you note where you found it (preferably with a GPS) and report it to your local Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) as soon as possible. Whilst the Buckinghamshire FLO will be happy to assist, if you live in a different county to where the find was made it is also acceptable to contact your local FLO.
  2. You find three isolated items of various material and use within the plough and topsoil across a large area. Ensure you note the location of each find and report to either the Buckinghamshire FLO or your local FLO as soon as possible.
  3. You find two or three gold jewellery items within a relatively small area within the plough soil. Whilst these objects are not within a stratified archaeological context, the quantity of finds may be suggestive of an archaeological site, such as a cemetery. In such cases we recommend ceasing works and contacting the BCAS for advice.
  4. You find a hoard of silver coins. Stop works and contact the BCAS for advice.
  5. You find a hoard of bronze axes within a deposit undisturbed by the plough. Stop works and contact the BCAS for advice.

Human remains

If you believe you have uncovered archaeological human remains, make the discovery site secure and contact the BCAS as above.

If you believe the remains may not be archaeological, call your local police station.