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The Countryside Code

The Countryside Code Logo

The Code, which applies in England and Wales, makes it clear what the responsibilities are for both the public and the people who manage the land.

Five sections of The Countryside Code are dedicated to helping members of the public respect, protect and enjoy the countryside:

  • Be safe, plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • plants and animals and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people

Three sections of the Code are dedicated to land managers:

  • Know your rights, responsibilities and liabilities
  • Make it easy for visitors to act responsibly
  • Identify possible threats to visitor's safety

NCMD Code of Conduct

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  • Do not trespass. Obtain permission before venturing on to any land.
  • Respect the Country Code, leave gates and property as you find them and do not damage crops, frighten animals or disturb nesting birds.
  • Wherever the site, do not leave a mess or an unsafe surface for those who may follow. It is perfectly simple to extract a coin or other small object buried a few inches below the ground without digging a great hole. Use a suitable digging implement to cut a neat flap(do not remove the;plug of earth entirely from the ground), extract the object, reinstate the grass, sand or soil carefully, and even you will have difficulty in locating the find spot again.

  • If you discover any live ammunition or any lethal object such as an unexploded bomb or mine, do not disturb it. Mark the site carefully and report the find to the local police and landowner.
  • Help keep Britain tidy. Safely dispose of refuse you come across.
  • Report all unusual historical finds to the landowner, and acquaint yourself with current NCMD policy relating to the Voluntary Reporting of Portable Antiquities.
  • Remember it is illegal for anyone to use a metal detector on a designated area (e.g. scheduled archaeological site, SSSI, or Ministry of Defence property) without permission from the appropriate authority.
  • Acquaint yourself with the definitions of the following documents: -
    • Treasure contained in the Treasure Act 1996 and its associated Code of Practice, making sure you understand your responsibilities.
    • Advice for Finders of Archaeological Objects including Treasure 2006.

  • Remember that when you are out with your metal detector you are an ambassador for our hobby. Do nothing that might give it a bad name.
  • Never miss an opportunity to explain your hobby to anyone who asks about it.

The Treasure Act 1996

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Summary of the Treasure Act

The following finds are Treasure under the Act, if found after 24 September 1997 (or, in the case of category 2, if found after 1 January 2003):

  • Any metallic object, other than a coin, provided that at least 10 per cent by weight of metal is precious metal (that is, gold or silver) and that it is at least 300 years old when found. If the object is of prehistoric date it will be Treasure provided any part of it is precious metal.
  • Any group of two or more metallic objects of any composition of prehistoric date that come from the same find (see below)
    • All coins from the same find provided they are at least 300 years old when found (but if the coins contain less than 10 per cent of gold or silver there must be at least ten of them).
    • Only the following groups of coins will normally be regarded as coming from the same find:
    • Hoards that have been deliberately hidden
    • Smaller groups of coins, such as the contents of purses, that may been dropped or lost
    • Votive or ritual deposits.
    • Any object, whatever it is made of, that is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, another object that is Treasure.

  • Any object that would previously have been treasure trove, but does not fall within the specific categories given above. Only objects that are less than 300 years old, that are made substantially of gold or silver, that have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery and whose owners or heirs are unknown will come into this category.

Note: An object or coin is part of the ‘same find’ as another object or coin if it is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, the other object. Finds may have become scattered since they were originally deposited in the ground.

What should I do if I find something that may be Treasure?

You must report all finds of Treasure to a coroner for the district in which they are found either within 14 days after the day on which you made the discovery or within 14 days after the day on which you realised the find might be treasure.

        Treasure Act 1996

Click to download full copy of the Treasure Act 1996

Finding, Recording & Preserving The History Beneath Our Feet