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HMRC internal manual

Capital Gains Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Found objects and treasure: ownership: treasure trove

The Treasure Act 1996 came into effect on 24 September 1997 and replaces the common law doctrine of treasure trove in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Treasure trove was any object comprised substantially of gold or silver in any form whether coin, plate or bullion which had been hidden in the earth or in any other private place with the intention that it should be recovered, where the true owner was unknown or unfound. Lost or deliberately abandoned items were not treasure trove.

The local Coroner had jurisdiction to hold an inquest to decide if an object was treasure trove.

If the finding of the object was reported promptly, the Crown would pay the full value of the treasure trove to the lawful finder as a reward if it wished to retain the object. Alternatively it would return the object to the finder and he or she was then free to dispose of it as they wished.

The landowner did not have any rights as regards an object that was treasure trove.

The finder’s deemed cost of acquisition, if given the object by the Crown, is examined at CG77571.

In Scotland all found objects where the true owner is unknown or unfound belongs to the Crown. ‘Treasure trove’ in Scotland is not restricted to objects containing gold or silver or to objects which have been deliberately hidden. The Crown may pay the value of the found object to the finder as a reward or return it the finder.