Sunday, 16 August 2009

eBay deal concerning Scotland's archaeological heritage

The internet auction site eBay has agreed to stop selling unreported ancient artefacts from Scotland (Brian Donnolly eBay deal protects country’s ancient treasures, the Herald August 16th 2009). This follows a number of cases of the illegal sale of artefacts through the portal in the past. These objects are all protected by Scotland's Treasure Trove legislation (rather than the 1996 Treasure Act which applies in most other parts of the UK) and belong to the state (Crown). It is only when treasure trove assessors at museums reject artefacts that finders can become keepers who may then do as they wish with the items they have found, if the Crown retains the object the finder gets an award equal to the full market value. Nevertheless, a large number of finders are believed to not be reporting finds to the Treasure Trove Unit as the law requires.

Now, if only eBay would institute a similar ban on metal detected items from England and Wales which are not accompanied by a PAS number, and antiquities from any foreign country which has export restrictions without the seller saying explicitly that he can supply the buyer with a copy of the export licence or other documentation to show it left the surce country legitimately. Then we could all sleep a little sounder.

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