Church of Scotland sues for share of £2m Viking treasure

Church of Scotland sues for share of £2m Viking treasure
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Church of Scotland sues for a share of £2m Viking treasure

Derek McLennan uncovered a stunning find of gold, silver, and religious objects in the Dumfries and Galloway field five years ago. The beautiful, allegedly abandoned’ Galloway Hoard’ from 850 to 950 AD was declared one of the’ most important Viking hoards ever discovered in Scotland.’

Among the most fascinating items, there were silver bracelets and brooches, a gold ring, an enamel Christian cross, and a bird-Shaped gold pin.

The funders in Scotland are paid for these discoveries, while awards are split with the landowner in England.

Derek McLennan, 47, holding ingots from the hoard of Viking treasure (Picture: PA) Initially, it was reported the church would share in the proceeds but now trustees are taking legal action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Derek McLennan, 47, holding ingots from the hoard of Viking treasure
Derek McLennan, 47, holding ingots from the hoard of Viking treasure

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: ‘It can be confirmed the general trustees of the Church of Scotland have raised an action against Derek McLennan.

‘As that is now a matter before the court it would be inappropriate for us to provide any further commentary at this time.’

Mr McLennan, a retired businessman and amateur detectorist, had been searching the unidentified area for a year with the church’s permission before he came across the incredible haul.

At the time, he said: ‘I unearthed the first piece, initially I didn’t understand what I had found because I thought it was a silver spoon and then I turned it over and wiped my thumb across it and I saw the Saltire-type of design and knew instantly it was Viking.

‘Then my senses exploded, I went into shock, endorphins flooded my system and away I went stumbling towards my colleagues waving it in the air.’

The hoard included silver bracelets and brooches, a gold ring and an enamelled Christian cross
The hoard included silver bracelets and brooches, a gold ring and an enamelled Christian cross
A pectoral cross from the Viking hoard
A pectoral cross from the Viking hoard.

The hoard included silver bracelets and brooches, a gold ring and an enamelled Christian cross (Picture: The National Museums Scotland) A pectoral cross from the Viking hoard (Picture: PA) The haul included a large Carolingian pot from what is now France which could have been 100 years old when it was deposited.

Inside they found silver Anglo-Saxon disc brooches, an Irish silver brooch, Byzantine silk from the area around Constantinople (now Istanbul), a gold ingot and gold and crystal objects wrapped in cloth.

It is not known why the treasures were deposited. Vikings from Scandinavia terrorised Britain and Ireland for more than 250 years from 793AD and frequently targeted monasteries where valuables were stored.

A bird pin from the Viking hoard
A bird pin from the Viking hoard

A bird pin from the Viking hoard (Picture: PA) The raiders failed to conquer mainland Scotland but settled in outlying islands such as Orkney and Shetland.

In Galloway and Dumfries, the word ‘Kirk’ which means church, features on many places and personal names are of Scandinavian origin.

The Galloway Hoard will be displayed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh from May to November next year, before visiting Kirkcudbright, Dundee and Aberdeen.


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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.