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Our Portable Past

Front cover for Our Portable Past v2

replaces Our Portable Past

This amended statement of good practice sets out the approaches and standards related to portable antiquities that Historic England will apply to work on designated and registered sites, projects that it funds, and work that it undertakes directly. In the context of this statement 'portable antiquities' in a land-based context covers all surface-collected archaeological material and all seabed material that has been separated from its original context. As the lead body for the historic environment Historic England recognises the important contribution that portable antiquities of all types, including metal-detected material, can make to increasing our understanding of the past. However it also recognises that potentially serious negative impacts can result from the unstructured collection and recording of material.

Historic England also recommends the statement as a suitable model to follow, in whole or in part, for organisations that fund or authorise archaeological projects, and for land managers and individuals involved in giving consent for archaeological projects whatever the legal status of the site or sites involved.

This amended edition of the statement includes greater emphasis on post-fieldwork processes, including archiving and documentation and more information on project development and integration of techniques.


  • Introduction
  • Background and key principles
  • Field projects
  • Metal detecting
  • Trade in antiquities
  • Implementation
  • Annexe I: International law, domestic law, statutory schemes and voluntary codes of practice
  • Annexe 2: Useful contacts and sources of information
  • Annexe 3: Definitions
  • Annexe 4: English Heritage acquisitions, disposals and loans policy (2005)
  • Annexe 5: Model waiver of rights to reward
  • Annexe 6: Bibliography
  • Annexe 7: Bodies consulted in the development of the original version of this document

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Replaces: Our Portable Past
  • Product Code: 51868


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