Sep 10, 2021 I Paul Seaburn

The Best Places to Find Buried Treasures in the UK

Now that the Fenn Treasure has been found, there don’t seem to be a lot of well-known, easy-to-access spots for treasure hunting in the U.S. Sunken ships are for divers and archeological sites where fossils or Native American artifacts might be found are well regulated, as are Civil War battle areas where metallic objects might be discovered. For those people with metal detectors and a desire to get rich, an organization in the UK has issued an invitation to cross the pond and provided a chart of the best places to find such treasures there (excluding Scotland).

“Britain’s historical past means that buried treasure and precious metals can be found in all manner of places up and down the country, with 8,775 found in total since 2012. Where in the UK has the most chance of finding buried treasure though? We’ve pulled together data from the UK Government on treasure and portable antiquities statistics to find out just that!”

The website matched data on the number of treasures and portable antiquities found in the UK between 2012 and 2019 (extracted from the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport ‘Treasure and portable antiquities statistics’ collection) and matched it with ‘Estimates of the population for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland’ data from Office of National Statistics (ONS) to compute the likelihood of finding treasure in each country or region of the UK, then ranking them by population (per 100,000 people). Based on that, the best place to find treasures in the UK is … drum roll please … the Isle of Wight, with 129.3 finds per 100,000 people from 2012 to 2019.

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 note below).

  • Two or more coins from the same find provided they are at least 300 years old when found and contain 10 per cent gold or silver (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.

Before you grab your detector and head to the Isle of Wight, check out the above definition of “treasure” as deemed by the Portable Antiquities Scheme Website. Then remember the rules of treasure hunting from the British Museum Treasure Registry to qualify for a share in the realized value of your find: a) you must first have secured permission to have been investigating the land on which the find was made; b) you must also have acted “in good faith” with the landowner – no trespassing or you could get three years in prison.

The good news is, for those who follow the rules, the treasures are everywhere. After the Isle of Wight, whose history precedes the Bronze Age, come Norfolk with 100.3 finds per 100,000, Dorset with 87.2 find per 100,000, Suffolk (76.3) and Lincolnshire (67.9). Not surprisingly, Wiltshie – the home of Stonehenge – is #7. The worst places to look for treasures are Isle of Anglesey (5.7), Lancashire (5.4) and County Durham (5.4). The website has a full chart, while the Daily Mail lists the number on a UK Map for planning your trip.

What kind of treasures can one find? In Dorest, a rare gold coin dating back to the 15th century was found in 2017 and fetched worth £15,000 ($20,7658). Just remember, you must report all finds of treasure to a coroner for the district in where 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 realized the find might be treasure. The coroner holds all finds until it is decided whether it is a treasure or not. If it is, it’s offered to museums for sale.

Happy treasure hunting!

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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