Below is a short introduction to the current Treasure Trove law in the Crown Dependencies of The Bailiwick of Jersey, comprising the Island of Jersey and the uninhabited Islets of the Minquiers and Ecrehous and The Bailiwick of Guernsey, comprising the Islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Brecqhou, Herm, Jethou and Lihou.
Since 1290 the Channel Islands have been Crown dependencies and each Bailiwick is headed by a Bailiff, with a Lieutenant Governor representing the Crown and within the Lieutenant Governors department, is the office of H.M. Receiver General. One of the duties of H.M. RG is to administer the procedure on behalf of the Crown with regards to any treasures found containing precious metals and where the current owner is unknown. In 1996 the English practise of Trove was replaced by the Treasury Act, a law that was deemed to be necessary to introduce a practise fit for the 21st century.
Introducing this law would not present any problem, had the governing bodies of our Islands not over looked the point of whether the change in UK law had any direct effect on the Islands.
(Reg Mead, first from the left, and the Jersey Celtic Hoard. Photo: Jersey Evening News)
In June 2012 myself and Richard Miles were the lucky detectorists to find a scattered hoard of silver Celtic staters and shortly after a larger hoard of coins and jewellery. This was to be the ideal scenario we had hoped for in order to test the law on buried treasure and the procedure required by the finder under that law. The first person I contacted was the current Receiver General and I asked him if he would accept the finds on behalf of the Crown as Treasure Trove. He commented on the fact that he had not had to deal with a request similar to this before. I referenced to the ruling made by the Attorney General in the Isle of Man regards the Glenfaba Hoard of Viking silver found in 2003 (another Crown dependency). It was decided that in the absence of a any fairer law the claim would be settled as closely as possible according to the English Treasure Act 1996. It was several days later that I received confirmation from the Receiver General in Jersey that our claim had been accepted by the crown as Treasure Trove and would as far as possible be settled according to the current English law.
Treasure Trove in the Channel Islands
Any buried treasure found within the Channel Islands that contains any amount of precious metal where the owner is unknown belongs to the Crown and must be reported to the Receiver General of Jersey or Guernsey depending on the Island it was discovered in. It is also advisable to contact the Museum of that Island in order to have the object recorded and inspected in case conservation is required. Apart from the legal requirements of Treasure found, it is an offence to export cultural artifacts that are over 50 years of age from the Islands without the appropriate export licence. If the finder of the treasure acts responsibly and abides by the current laws he or she will be rewarded accordingly.
Should you visit the Islands it is your duty to research the areas where restrictions are in place with regard to the the use of Metal Detectors and remember that if searching farm land etc,. the owners permission to search the land must always be obtained. A law similar to that in the UK is being considered for the Channel Islands so things may well change in the near future.
In my opinion it is imperative to safeguard your rights should you be fortunate to find treasure, to have a written agreement with the land owner as to the exact way any reward will be shared.
Reg Mead. President of the Jersey Metal Detecting Society. 11th June. 2016.