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Find spot location

Recording findspots accurately (using a Ordnance Survey map or hand-held Global Positioning
System (GPS) device) whilst in the field are really what counts when recording your
archaeological finds

• Findspot Info on the Portable Antiquities Scheme
• How to plot a National Grid Reference

Findspot Info on the Portable Antiquities Scheme Database

4 figs = 1km
6 figs = 100m
8 figs = 10m
10 figs = 1m.

Q: What level will a findspot be shown on the website?

A: When you give PAS information to enter on to their database, PAS enter into an agreement
with you to publish the NGR to 4 figures (eg. SU XX YY) or to hide the grid reference entirely.
This will produce an alias for your findspot, whilst still ensuring the integrity of the object record
Therefore you will see findspot data rendered in two ways for the public. See two findspot
diagrams below for hidden and full findspots as seen by public users of the database.

Q: Why do you hide the findspot?

A: The aim of PAS is to make as much of the information available as possible while protecting
your personal details and protecting archaeological sites from damage. Precise details of
findspots will be made available to the Finds Liaison Officers, the Sites and Monuments Record,
and other statutory bodies such as English Heritage, Cadw and the Royal Commission on the
Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.

PAS hide the findspot by asking the finder if they would like to have the details hidden. If the
answer is yes, then the FLO will enter an alias into a database field entitled "known as". When
this field is filled in, you will see the findspot displayed as above (hidden). If left blank then the
findspot is 4 figure, and will say SU XX YY [limited].

Q: Who can see findspot details in full?

A: If you report a findspot with a level of precision which is higher than 4 figures (which is the
case for 73.5% of our finds during 2003 - 2004), then the only people with access rights to see
these full NGRs are:
1) Finds Liaison Officers (35)
2) System admin (1)
3) Finds Advisers (4)
4) Management (4)
5) Researchers
All users with an account are asked to fill in an agreement that states any publications that make
use of the data that you provide, MUST be published to 4 figure NGRs or less. The ICT Manager
constantly audits who is looking at what, and they flag up with FLOs if substantial searches are
being made on specific parishes. If somebody breaks this agreement, access rights are
Large bodies of data cannot be downloaded from our database on purpose. The only person who
can give out this data is the ICT Manager, therefore, they know where this data is going first

Q: Should I withold the NGR?

A: That is entirely up to the individual and the landowner. The FLO recording your data should
not pressurise you in to giving up information you are not willing to give. If you state that you
want the NGR hidden, then it should be hidden. If the FLO forgets to do this, it is a really easy
thing to do. Contact Dan Pett at the British Museum directly if you need this doing and you
cannot contact the FLO in question. If you do give the FLO a grid reference, the integrity of the
find is far more useful to other archaeologists or heritage professionals.
The information that you give PAS is providing others with a huge corpus of information, that
will allow the next generation to perhaps change our perceived or inherited view of a region.

Data Transfer PAS to HER’s

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), the National Council for Metal Detecting (NCMD) and
the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO) have now been able to
agreed the terms and conditions for the transfer of PAS data to Historic Environment Records
(HERs) and Sites and Monuments Records (SMRs).
The Portable Antiquities Reporting Scheme has therefore issued the following statement: -

The HERs/SMRs will be able to use PAS data for all their normal purposes, such as
development-control work and research enquiries, but they will only publish findspots on the
Internet in the same way as the PAS does on its finds database (see This is to
say that no finds will be published on the Internet to more than at National Grid Reference
(NGR) of 4 figures (1kmsq), and only at parish (or less) for Treasure finds and finds from sites
where the finder, landowner, HER Officer or Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) believes that there is a
conservation threat (such as the risk of nighthawking) if the findspot is published.
Why buy a GPS?
GPS is extremely accurate, locations are given to 10 figures (5 Eastings and 5 Northings). This
pinpoints the location theoretically to within 1 metre, however due to satellite reception quality
and other errors is more typically reliable to within 10 metres.

Such an accuracy is much appreciated by PAS for find spot location and would be most difficult
to achieve using a map, tape and compass.

The display can show the location stored in OS format or at the press of a button will convert to
Lat and Long format.


GPS is very convenient to carry and use, it is light weight, waterproof and doesn't need to be
unfolded in the rain and wind like a map. It will give your position any where in the world,
saving the cost of a map or downloading map images off the Internet.

Just press the 'Mark' button and your location is displayed without the skills needed to master
map reading and use of a compass. There's no measuring or pacing out needed and little chance
of an error occurring.

The information it safely stores for you can be viewed or downloaded later at your convenience.

Other advantages

Even basic GPS is great for jogging, cycling, in car navigation, skiing or flying, it tells you your
current speed, average speed, time moving and distance covered as it records a tracklog of your

The tracklog can be downloaded onto your PC as a record of your route or to analyse your

It will record a tracklog of your steps so you can return along the same route, particularly useful
if caught in the dark or you are prone to getting lost in the wilds.

The completed tracklog can be saved for use another day instead of using a map * or email the
route to your friends.

Tracklogs of other peoples routes, eg MTB routes can be downloaded off the internet.

It will also record your altitude and decent speed if you are walking in hilly areas or paragliding.
It's useful for recording and with software available on the internet (some free), mapping
accurate finds locations and identifying hotspots.

From the internet, enter sufficient route waypoints and in the navigate mode it will guide you to
your destination, on or off road, without reference to a map*.

Enter the destination waypoint only and and in the navigate mode it will be of valuable
assistance as you near to your destination.

In the Navigate mode It tells you your distance remaining and ETA at your destination.

It could also save your life one day.

* GPS performance can be effected by weather conditions, trees and buildings which can
interfere with the satellite link up, so a map and compass should be carried just in case. Spare
batteries should also be carried if prolonged use is a possibility.

How does GPS work?

Garmin GPS Guide for Beginners & Using Garmin GPS with paper maps (PDF's).

Understanding GPS, map reading & survival

GPS Software
The GPS can only store limited amount of information, say 500 waypoints, maybe 20 reversable
routes and perhaps 10 tracks, so at some point it is going to get full and to add new information
you would need to delete some of the information you have put in already , ie delete routes you
have spent precious time creating. So instead of losing them, you can save your tracks,
waypoints, routes on your PC and then delete them from your GPS to make way for more

Over the counter

Global Positioning Systems



Share Ware

Easy GPS
Expert GPS

GPS Trackmaker

Useful GPS links

Garmin hints & tips

GPS tutorial

Understanding GPS
How to plot a National Grid Reference
The very least you should do is reference finds to specific fields - But Recording findspots
accurately (using a Ordnance Survey map or hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) device)
whilst in the field are really what counts when recording your archaeological finds

Portable Antiquities website

link to all you need to know from the PAS website

How to plot a National Grid Reference

Ordnance Survey website

Interactive Guide to the National Grid

Learn how to use the National Grid

There's a facility on the website that lets you convert OS and Landranger to Lats
and Longs and vice versa.
To get to it you have to go onto the site, type in say your postcode or OS co ords, it will come up
with a map.

The facility can then be accessed by pressing the click here to convert link lower down the page