Technically all discovered treasure belongs to the Crown.
Amateur Indiana Joneses armed with metal detectors have been unearthing history across Cornwall as part of a UK “treasure boom”.
The county played host to a total of 19 treasure finds last year, according to figures co-released by the British Museum and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
It is part of a surge of interest in treasure hunting which has seen more than 1,000 artefacts discovered across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in each of the last five years.
More than 95 per cent of those discoveries are being made using metal detectors.
The 19 treasure finds in Cornwall in 2018 is up from 11 in 2017 and seven in 2016.
The national picture
Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland there were 1,096 finds last year – down slightly from 1,266 in 2017. However, it continues a streak that has seen more than 1,000 finds each year since 2014.
Norfolk was the nation’s treasure capital in 2018, with a total of 103 finds.
Lincolnshire had 87 and Suffolk 70.
Kent, Essex and North Yorkshire were the other areas to have at least 50 finds
The newfound popularity of treasure hunting can be traced back to the passage of the Treasure Act in 1996, formalising the ways someone could be paid for their discoveries.
A government survey carried out in 2018/19 found as many as 1.6 per cent of all adults in England said they had taken part in metal detecting at least once in the previous 12 months.
To count as treasure, an item must be at least 300 years old and – in most cases – contain at least 10 per cent gold or silver.
Objects which are substantially made of gold or silver but are less than 300 years old can count as treasure.
Technically all discovered treasure belongs to the Crown and must be reported to a coroner within 14 days.
Failing to do so can result in a fine of up to £5,000 – and even a short prison sentence.
Once a coroner has confirmed that an item is treasure, it is offered to museums. If no museum chooses to bid, the item can be returned to the finder.
If a museum does bid – at a valuation set by a committee of experts – the money is generally paid out as a reward shared between the finder, the owner of the land, and any tenant.
A full analysis of the treasure finds in 2017 showed that 228 involved coins, while 1,038 involved other objects.
Of the coins, nearly half were from the Roman era while 33 dated all the way back to the Iron Age.
Source: Cornwall Live