Metal detectorist rewarded with nearly £2m after unearthing Britain’s biggest Viking treasure

The haul of 100 items has been described by experts 'of outstanding significance' 

Chloe Farand
Saturday 13 May 2017 13:36 BST
Derek McLennan found the Viking treasure in a field in the south west of Scotland
Derek McLennan found the Viking treasure in a field in the south west of Scotland (Derek McLennan/PA)

A metal detectorist has learned he has hit a £2m jackpot after uncovering Britain's biggest ever Viking treasure.

Derek McLennan unearthed the 10th-century collection of rare Viking artefacts in a field in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland's south-west in 2014.

The haul of about 100 items included silver bracelets and brooches, a gold ring, an enamelled Christian cross and a bird-shaped gold pin.

The bulk of it is silver jewellery, but it also contains textiles and a range of precious metal and jewelled items described as “outstanding and exceptional” by experts, including a rare gold ingot, beads, crystals and a decorated silver-gilt cup thought to be of Byzantine origin.

Mr McLennan passed on the treasure to the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer (QLTR), which rules on found goods and property without an owner.

David Harvie, from QLTR, described the hoard as of “outstanding international significance” and “one of the most important finds ever discovered in Scotland”.

QLTR ruled the collection should be handed over to Scotland’s National Museum for display, provided it can pay Mr McLennan £1.98m to acquire the treasure.

Sharon McKee, Mr McLennan’s partner, who is also involved in the treasure hunting, wrote on Facebook: “We are honoured and feel privileged to have saved this internationally significant treasure and we look forward to the many exciting discoveries that will be further revealed.

“We cannot wait for its eventual display in Scotland's National Museum.”

An early medieval cross, part of a hoard of Viking treasure which has been unearthed (Derek McLennan/PA Archive/PA Images)

Unlike the rest of the UK, where the awards are split between the finder and the landowner, in Scotland rules on discoveries allow the finder to keep the full amount of the award.

The National Museum of Scotland said the haul was “unique” because it brought together a variety of objects “hinting at previously unknown connections” between people across Europe in the 10th century.

Director of National Museums Scotland, Dr Gordon Rintoul, said he was “delighted” the treasure had been allocated to the museums.

“We now have six months to raise £1.98m to acquire this unique treasure for the nation and ensure it can be enjoyed by future generations both at home and abroad,” he said.

An archaeologist preparing the top level for removal of the hoard of Viking treasure found by Derek McLennan (Derek McLennan/PA Archive/PA Images)

The Galloway Viking Hoard campaign group has called for the items to be displayed in the south-west of Scotland close to where they were discovered.

National Museums Scotland said it will work with Dumfries and Galloway Council to display some of the hoard in the region.

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