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Advice and Support

Finds made on archaeological sites

Discover what you need to do if you make a find on an archaeological site anywhere in Scotland.

It’s against the law to remove or extract any items from a scheduled monument.

If you find an item of archaeological, historical or cultural significance (portable antiquities) anywhere in Scotland, you must report the item to the Treasure Trove Unit.

Under Scottish law, all such objects are subject to claim by the Crown through the Treasure Trove system.

This applies to all finds, whether recovered:

  • from archaeological investigations
  • by means of metal-detecting
  • by chance

Find out more about the Treasure Trove system in Scotland on the Treasure Trove website.

Human remains

Many burials, especially those dating to before the medieval period, only come to light when they are disturbed unexpectedly.

If you discover human remains, you should immediately inform the local police. Do not touch the remains, and avoid disturbing the ground in their vicinity. Police will consult with the planning authority’s archaeologist if they suspect your discovery is an ancient burial.

If burials are discovered on a development site, it’s the developer’s responsibility to inform the police. The cost of handling ancient burials on development sites usually falls upon the developer, supervised by the planning authority.

When ancient burials are found outside a development site, the local authority’s archaeologist will contact us. If we consider the remains important, we’ll manage the situation through our human remains call-off contract.

Download our policy paper The Treatment of Human Remains in Archaeology.