Derek McLennan, a Scottish metal detector enthusiast has discovered what has been dubbed the “richest collection of rare Viking artifacts ever found in the United Kingdom” and is set to receive a $2.5 million reward for alerting the authorities about the haul. The hoard from the XX century, which is considered of international significance, includes silver bracelets and brooches, a gold ring, an enameled Christian cross and a bird-shaped gold pin were discovered by McLennan in 2014 while he was searching in a field in Dumfries and Galloway, a county in southwestern Scotland.
McLennan, 49, shares his hobby with his partner, Sharon McKee, who took to Facebook to express her delight that their discovery will soon be featured in Scottish museums.
“We are honored 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,” 43-year-old McKee wrote.
After stumbling upon the Viking treasure which contained more than 100 items, Derek alerted the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR), the body in charge of goods and properties without an owner, which deemed it “one of the most important finds ever discovered” in Scotland.
“I am pleased to announce that I am minded to accept the recommendation of the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel that these wonderful items be allocated to National Museums Scotland, subject to it meeting the ex gratia award which would then be payable to the finder,” David Harvie from the QLTR said.
National Museums Scotland is now obliged to pay almost $2.5 million to the finders, but they don’t seem to mind and have declared themselves ‘delighted’ to welcome the artifacts to their museums. “We now have six months to raise funds to acquire this unique treasure for the nation and ensure it can be enjoyed by future generations both at home and abroad,” Dr. Gordon Rintoul from National Museums Scotland said.
This is an extraordinary turn of events for the adventurous couple after it has been revealed they almost lost their lives in a car crash just seven months prior to their big pay-day, while traveling to England for a metal detecting trip. In November 2016, a truck going at around 60 mph smashed into the back of their vehicle near Doncaster, in South Yorkshire, which “propelled them into oncoming traffic” and leaving their Mercedes looking “like a banana”.
After the accident, Sharon was taken into intensive care and had to spend several weeks in hospital. David, who described the crash as ‘total carnage’, wrote in an online post that they are both still in recovery and “every day is a challenge” only days before news about their ex gratia reward came through.