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Cultural property

There are a number of ways in which public collections in Scotland can acquire objects of archaeological, historical or cultural significance. These are outlined below.

National Acquisitions Fund

The National Fund for Acquisitions (NFA) helps museums, galleries, libraries and archives throughout Scotland to make acquisitions for their collections. It is managed on our behalf by National Museums Scotland.

Read more about the NFA on National Museums Scotland's website.

Treasure trove

Treasure trove relates to the handling of found objects of archaeological, historical or cultural significance in Scotland.

Treasure trove is "portable antiquity" and covers almost anything which has been taken out of the ground and which is thought, on the basis of its age or rarity, worth preserving for the nation.

The Crown has a right to treasure trove, and the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer (QLTR) exercises this right.

The QLTR treasure trove code of practice sets out the procedures that enable chance finds to be claimed on behalf of the public.

The Treasure Trove Unit of the National Museum of Scotland holds the authority for valuing finds in Scotland.

Visit the Treasure Trove Scotland website.

Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel (SAFAP)

The Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel (SAFAP) advises the QLTR.

SAFAP determines:

  • if treasure trove should be acquired on behalf of the nation, for allocation to a registered Scottish museum
  • the level of payments which may be made to members of the public who find and report such items

Scottish Ministers are responsible for appointing members to the panel.

Cultural Gifts and Acceptance in Lieu schemes

Scotland also benefits from the Cultural Gifts and Acceptance in Lieu schemes, which occasionally result in new acquisitions to Scotland's national collections.

The Cultural Gifts scheme encourages people to donate objects of archaeological, historical or cultural significance to the national collections during their lifetime.

The Acceptance in Lieu scheme enables taxpayers to transfer important works of art and other heritage objects into public ownership after their death. This reduces their inheritance tax bill.

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs has a decision-making role in all cases where there is a Scottish interest, such as where the items are offered from Scotland or where the offeror has expressed a wish that the object, if accepted, is allocated to a national collection in Scotland.

Find out more about the Cultural Gifts and Acceptance in Lieu schemes.