Horde of ancient (Roman & Celtic) coins found on Jersey - finders keepers?

This article from the BBC describes a recently found, huge horde of ancient coins. There are an estimated 50,000 coins each worth several hundred dollars. Their total worth is estimated to be around $10 million.

Do the two people who found the treasure get to keep it? A percentage?

I assume that they won’t have to relinquish all or most of it; otherwise I doubt they would have publicized their find in the first place.

All found property should be returned to its owner. Under British law, “treasure troves” which have no owner due to their extreme age, belong to the Crown. (IIRC)

I don’t have an answer for you, but that is frigging cool.

I wonder how someone could lose that kind of money back then. I guess maybe an attack? Someone buried the treasure before they fell?

Interesting, I hope they find clues as to what might have happened.

Also, That’s gotta be enough money to represent some sort of tax based funds right? Money to pay say a nearby Roman army, and not just some rich guy’s personal treasure, right?

Seriously? As in the Queen gets it?

A quick look through the references here back that up. I believe the land owner can sometimes be awarded a share but I can’t find a hard and fast rule on that or if its by value or number of coins.

I am unclear whether this is covered by UK Law (well, England & Wales Law to be precise) or whether this is covered by Jersey local law. If the former, then a find of this size and age is covered by the Treasure act (1996) which makes it a legal requirement to report items above a certain age and value within 14 days of discovery. From here:

All finds classed as’ treasure’ automatically go to the British Museum - you can’t keep them - but the finder does receive a payment. The payment is split between the finder, the land owner and the land tenant (if there is one). The value is decided by something called the Treasure Valuation Committee, who I presume come from the British Museum.

Well, ‘The Crown’ gets it, which basically means the state, and it disappears into the vaults of the British Museum as treasure is part of our collective heritage. But the finder does get a payment.

But no, you can’t keep the coins in a box under the bed or flog them to a russian oligarch.

In practice, museums buy it from the finder/landowner, or it gets returned to them.

This rather confusing summary indicates there’s a reward, based on market value. But does the reward go to the finder or the owner of the land? The article indicates the “ownership of the coins is unclear.”

The site is being excavated–the finders notified archaeologists & are working with them. So maybe they’ll be able to get some clues on just who buried the stuff & why.

Oh: The word is hoard!

Jersey’s not actually part of the UK though. It’s a Crown Dependency and it has a different legal system. Not sure what the situation is there regarding treasure trove.

ETA: need to get in quicker.

IF it isn’t classed as ‘treasure’, which is items over 300 years old and made of at least 10% gold or silver. If it is, then it’s automatically off to the British Museum (unless Jersey law, as noted, covers treasure finds separately).

OK, makes sense, as long as the finder gets a fee, and I cna see how precious history like this is something people would want to remain in a museum and not up for auction on eBay.

I found this article on Jersey treasure finds, which seems to say there isn’t a ‘treasure’ law as such, but there may be other Customs laws designed to protect items of historic interest should you try to take them off the island:


As I understand it, the payment for treasure goes to the finder, not the landowner, as long as he was on the land for a legitimate purpose. The particular case I’m remembering was someone hired to plow a field, and who found the stuff in the process of plowing. But you couldn’t just sneak onto your neighbor’s land at night and start digging.

That’s going to depend on your jurisdiction. It isn’t the case in the UK.

Sucks to be a treasure hunter in England… find a treasure :slight_smile: but then have to give it to away :frowning:


Not really, because you get to sell it for a reasonable market price and know that it’ll be properly conserved.

Most places have similar laws about old treasure ships found off the coast. Places like Italy, Greece or Egypt have even stricter antiquities laws about dug up artifacts, IIRC.

Shouldn’t the Roman stuff go back to Italy? If Spain gets to get its abandoned gold back, why not Italy?

The current incarnation of Spain is considered to be the successor state to the Spanish Empire of the 16th-19th centuries. By contrast, it’s not clear what the successor state to Ancient Rome currently is, or if there even is one. We did a thread on the successor state to Ancient Rome a few months back. The strongest claim to being Rome’s successor state is probably Turkey’s (Roman Empire => Byzantine Empire => Ottoman Empire => modern Turkey), but even then it’s pretty tenuous.