Man With Metal Detector Stumbles Across Largest Hoard of Viking Treasure Ever Found in UK

September 3, 2019 Updated: September 9, 2019

Derek McLennan does not have a degree in archaeology nor does he work for a museum. He is a simply a businessman with a metal detector who is passionate about the history of his native country, Scotland.

And when McLennan’s metal detector went off in areas near the towns of Dumfries and Galloway in southwestern Scotland, where he and other searchers hoped to find historical artifacts, he was delighted.

Little did he know, his findings would end up in national collections and would make him over 2 million pounds (US$2.4 million).

Illustration – Shutterstock | Creative Nature Media

McLennan was out scouting for artifacts with two local ministers, one from the Church of Scotland and another from the Pentecostal Church, who are equally passionate to discover the remnants of medieval history with their metal detectors.

When McLennan found a silver armband, he shouted “Viking!” as his fellow detectorists told The Daily Mail.

He was so thrilled by the find that his wife, Sharon McKee, who also enjoys searching for buried treasure, thought there was something wrong with him. According to Vintage News, he was so emotional that she thought he had been in a car accident.

But as exciting as the armband was, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath, there was also a silver cross.

Media coverage featuring the Church today is dominated by the spectacular hoard of #Viking treasure which has been found…

Posted by Church of Scotland on Monday, October 13, 2014

As Reverend David Bartholomew, one of the treasure seekers there that day, explained per Daily Mail, “It was poking out from under the pile of silver ingots and decorated arm-rings, with a finely wound silver chain still attached to it.” Most exciting, the cross turned out to be intricately decorated.

The more they dug up, the more amazed they were. All told, over 100 artifacts were found according to The Daily Mail. The objects, which date to the 9th and 10th centuries A.D., show an early adoption of Christianity by the conquering Vikings, and as McLennan said to Vintage News, seemed to indicate connections between the religious communities in Lindisfarne in the North of England and Iona, off the western coast of Scotland.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Sergey Kamshylin

Once the excavations were completed, a silver pot was discovered that is estimated to be 1,200 years old. Though researchers did not want to force the long-buried pot open for fear of damaging its contents, they were able to do a CT scan to find out what was inside.

Derek McLennan, who was responsible for its discovery, said, “Nothing else had been on my mind for two-and-half-months than seeing what was inside […] there was a rush of emotion and was incredibly exciting.”

As McLennan told Daily Mail: “I was absolutely amazed by what was inside the pot. There seems to be 20 plus artifacts in the pot, while most of them seem to be broaches of some sort.” According to archaeologists, the materials inside include gold, silver, and ivory.

The artifacts will go into Scotland National Museums to help historians and archaeologists better understand the influence of the Vikings on Scottish culture. Meanwhile, the law mandates that McLennan is eligible for a reward equal to the market value of the find, according to Vintage News. This was determined to be 1.98 million pounds (US$2.38 million) according to the Independent.

So, the next time you see a man in a field with a metal detector, rather than assuming that he’s eccentric, you might want to join in instead.