Mason County, WV - An Archaeological Treasure

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If you decide to look for, or find artifacts

 It’s important to collect responsibly. Once an artifact is taken, if not properly documented, the information it can give is very limited. Here are some guidelines that will help you preserve our important history.

  • It is illegal to surface collect, dig, or metal detect on federal property.

  • It is legal to surface collect, dig, or metal detect on private property with the owner’s permission.

  • All artifacts found on private property, with the exception of burials and burial artifacts, belong to the property owner.

  • Landowners can dig on their own property.

  • In West Virginia, as in most states, disturbing human burials is illegal. It is illegal to collect human remains or burial artifacts on any property.

  • If you encounter human remains by accident, you must stop immediately and contact the local authorities. Sometimes it is very difficult for amateurs to determine if remains are human or animal, if there is any doubt, error on the safe side and call in the experts. 

  • It is illegal to buy or sell human remains.

  • If you have any questions about what is appropriate, contact a professional archaeologist. You can call (304) 558-0240 for the archaeologists at West Virginia Culture & History.

Remember, when an archaeological site is disturbed, valuable information is lost. Responsible collectors who have permission to collect or dig will take photographs and detailed notes of the location of what they have found. Even with surface collecting, taking photographs and making notes of the exact location of the artifacts add to their value.


Council for WV Archaeology website
 WV Division of Culture & History website
Darla Spencer - The Author
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