Corinne Mills asks "Can you clarify why you feel these items come under the
Treasure Act?", to which Rob replies,
"As for Scotland different rules apply and I am not certain of the full
details but I believe that over 300 years old the item belongs to the
Time to put this straight again.
The fact is that anything without a known owner belongs to the Crown in
Scotland. No matter what date it is, or what it is made of.
This is 'bona vacantia' and derives from feudalism. It is not legislation,
it is Common Law, or rather, it comes under the Royal Prerogative. Since
the 19th century the procedure has been increasingly used as a means of
protecting portable antiquities. It is overseen by the Crown Agent in
Scotland, who goes by the title in this case of the Queen and Lord
Treasurer's Remembrancer. If it so wished, the Crown could claim anything -
even modern rubbish - but it generally forbears to do so. Issues sometimes
arise over objects that are only just portable and can be seen as monuments
in a landscape; and sometimes the status of objects as 'ownerless' may be
challenged. However the key issue for treasure hunters in Scotland,
whatever equipment or technique they use, is that their finds do not belong
to them or to the landowner, and not to declare them is a criminal offence.
Finds must be reported either through the local museum or the police.
So the sale of the medieval Scottish coin on eBay is illegal unless it has
been specifically disclaimed by the Crown via the Scottish Treasure Trove
procedure (see www.treasuretrove.org.uk ). I would strongly advise anyone
interested not to buy it, or indeed any other antiquities from Scotland
unless the sale includes a statement of the decision of the Treasure Trove
Highland Archaeology Services Ltd