Archeological Finds

Found an Archaeological Object?

Through the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2014 all archaeological objects found, with no known owner are the property of the Irish State. 

If you find, or believe you found, an archaeological object, report it within 96 hours (4 days) to the County Museum in your county or alternatively to the National Museum of Ireland or your local Garda Station. These archaeological objects are normally then displayed in one of the network of twelve County Museums in the Republic of Ireland for everyone’s enjoyment and add to our knowledge of the histories of these counties. Reporting the object and cooperating with the above agencies may see the finder being paid a Finders Reward for good citizenship. 

Archaeology from Monaghan County Museum

Ballon Hill artefacts on display in Carlow County Museum. This case was made in the 19th century to hold four artefacts: a bronze razor; white and black polished pebbles (supposed amulets); and a third green pebble (now missing). These artefacts date from the Bronze Age (c.2,500 – 700BC) burials on Ballon Hill, Ballon, Co. Carlow. The case was found in an attic in England in 1997 and returned to Co. Carlow.

Owing to our rich and varied past this country has many objects that help to tell that story and evoke a sense of place, nostalgia and pride. Any of these objects that are archaeological in nature fall under the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2014. In essence these Acts state that all archaeological objects found, with no known owner are the property of the State. The National Museum of Ireland and the National Monuments Service are, in the main, the Government sections that deal with this on a countrywide basis.

Under those National Monuments Acts and the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997, the Director of the National Museum of Ireland has Designated all twelve Local Authority Museums as repositories for archaeological finds from the respective Counties. 

Click the image below for the brochure containing more information about ‘Designated Museums in Ireland’ : –

Across the country all of the twelve members of the Local Authority Museums’ Network (LAMN) are Designated which are: Carlow County Museum, Cavan County Museum; Clare Museum; Cork Public Museum; County Museum, Dundalk; Donegal County Museum; Galway City Museum; Kerry County Museum; Limerick Museum; Monaghan County Museum; Tipperary Museum of Hidden History and Waterford Treasures Museums. Failure to report an archaeological find may result in prosecution, which if found guilty of an offence under these Acts is subject to a fine of up to €111,100.00 and or five years imprisonment.

Click the images below for the Government of Ireland’s brochures on the ‘Code for caring for our Monuments’ (in Irish and English):- 

The use of metal detectors at or near
archaeological sites is also regulated by the
National Monuments Acts 1930 – 2004.

Unless you have made an application and received consent under the above Acts it is against the law to be in possession of a detection device in or near a site protected under the above Acts. It is also against the law to possess a detection device for the purpose of searching for archaeological objects or ‘treasure’. Under the National Monument Acts 1930 – 2004 there are provisions for a fine and imprisonment if found guilty of this offence. If you find an archaeological object while in contravention of these restrictions with a detection device additional offenses under the Acts may have been committed.

The National Museum of Ireland Advice on Metal Detecting: The Law on Metal Detecting in Ireland | National Museum of Ireland

National Monuments Service information on Sites Monuments Records (known archaeological sites): Archaeological Survey of Ireland | National Monuments.

Click the images below for brochures (in Irish and English) giving advice on the use of Metal Detection Devices and their Impact on our Archaeological Heritage:-

Archaeology Loan Box, Donegal County Museum

Video of the pottery reconstruction by the Ballon Hill Archaeology Project. In conjunction with Carlow County Museum and Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society, the Ballon Hill Archaeology Project commissioned prehistoric pottery specialist Elaine Lynch to make replicas of eight of the vessels found on Ballon Hill. The pots were fired in an open pit. Link to the project report: