Information for applicants

The Headley Trust is one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. Its trustees are aware of the great difficulties many regional and local museums find in raising the purchase sum to secure archaeological artefacts. They have set aside funds to help museums to do this.

Museums may apply for artefacts classified as Treasure under the Treasure Act 1996 and, since 2008, other UK archaeological items which are more than 300 years old found or excavated at any point. It is unable to consider items to be sold at auction. The minimum purchase price is £500 and the maximum is £300,000. The Headley Trust will consider a contribution towards the balance required. The maximum grant the Trust will award is unlikely to exceed £10,000. Please note that although applications towards the acquisition of coin hoards will be considered, they are not a high priority for support.

This scheme runs alongside, and in close collaboration with, the Arts Council England/V & A Purchase Grant Fund. Applicant museums need to meet the eligibility criteria laid out in the Information for Applicants document available from the Arts Council England/V & A Purchase Grant Fund.

An application will only be accepted by The Headley Trust’s office if the Arts Council England/V & A Purchase Grant Fund  has already offered a grant. In exceptional cases, The Headley Trust may consider applications which the Arts Council England/V & A Purchase Grant Fund is unable to support due to lack of funds. The Purchase Grant Fund will advise the museum when a case is eligible for The Headley Museums Archaeological Acquisition Fund. The final decision is at the sole discretion of The Headley trustees.

The Headley trustees will judge applications on the strength of the argument put forward for each artefact, or group of artefacts. In making the case, applicants should bear in mind that the trustees may well not know the collection in question, and that they are not archaeologists. The first paragraph should give a thumbnail sketch of the museum, its history, collections, visitor numbers, etc.

Even if an application to the Arts Council England/V & A Purchase Grant Fund has been successful, it will not necessarily secure the support of The Headley Trust.

Procedure for making an application

If an applicant has any queries, please email We regret that we cannot take any telephone and/or written enquiries.

Applications are only accepted from this website by completing the Online Application Form

Two sets of good quality photographs of the item(s) must accompany the application. They should be sent in .jpg format. Applications will not be considered if any other format is used. The images may be used freely by The Headley Trust. Applicants must ensure that copyright clearance has been obtained.

The museum’s latest annual report and accounts, or an equivalent document in the case of a local authority museum, should accompany the application as a Word and/or Excel document.

Notification of the trustees’ decision will be sent within approximately three weeks of receipt of an application form at the Trust’s office.

Items must remain unbought until the trustees have made their decision.

The Trust will not enter into any correspondence over reasons why an application is unsuccessful.

Offer and payment of grants

A letter of offer will state the amount of the grant and the terms of the offer. Applicants will need to acknowledge the offer promptly in writing, stating the expected date when the object will pass into the museum’s ownership.

Once the object has been safely received by the museum, the grant may be claimed by sending a copy of the British Museum release letter for treasure items or, for other material, a detailed receipt. Payment will be made within three weeks. The grant is a reimbursement.

The trustees reserve the right to ask a few of the successful museums to send a curator with their archaeological artefact to one of the Trust meetings, so that the trustees can hear at first-hand about its significance and history. The offices are in central London and the Trust will reimburse travel costs.

Terms and conditions of grants

  • The museum’s acknowledgment constitutes a formal contract and should be signed by a member of the governing body or the officer with financial responsibility for museum purchases and the authority to enter into such agreements.
  • If the grant cannot be used for the purpose it was awarded, it must be returned immediately to the Trust.
  • An institution undertakes not to dispose of the artefact without The Headley Trust’s prior approval. The Headley Trust should be informed as soon as possible if the issue of disposal arises.
  • The Headley Trust must be notified immediately if an item awarded a grant is lost, stolen or irreparably damaged.
  • Arrangements for acknowledging The Headley Trust’s grant must be agreed with The Headley Office on a case by case basis.
  • As a matter of courtesy, museums are requested to keep the Trust informed as to notable events in the subsequent history of the purchased item; for example, when it first goes on public display, scholarly publications etc.

Data Protection and Privacy Policy

The Headley Trust is one of 20 different independent grant-making trusts and charitable companies established by members of three generations of the Sainsbury family. Each trust is an independent legal entity with its own separate and autonomous board of trustees.

The Headley Trust is registered as a data controller with the UK Information Commissioner’s Office.
Our Privacy Policy is available to download here.