Two Scottish Treasure Hunters Brave Gale To Uncover Medieval Hoard

February 4th, 2014 by

BBC photo of Twynholm hoard in situ

BBC photo of Twynholm hoard in situ

Two metal detectorists in Scotland have shown how to do treasure hunting right, as they parlayed research into a discovery of a hoard of 322 medieval silver coins, shortly before Christmas.

Derek McLennan and Gus Paterson braved December gale force winds and horizontal rains for five hours, before all the hard work paid off in a field at Twynholm, near Kirkcudbright. in Dumfries and Galloway.  McLennan told BBC Radio Scotland:

“We’d been searching for about five hours in atrocious weather, with the horizontal rain and 60mph gales and we were both feeling rather scunnered in the last field before we were heading for the car. I went one direction and Gus went the other. Gus was lucky enough to hit the first two coins. There was jubilation all round as I’m sure you can imagine.”

“Although it’s a hobby we are serious about it so we immediately recognised that it was medieval hammered coins,” he said. “It was actually two stuck together, which is highly unusual, so that led us to believe there was a possible hoard of coins in the area and we just started searching.”

The two adventurers dug around 40 coins before darkness fell, but more trips to the site eventually netted a total of 322 silver coins. The treasure has been turned over to Scotland’s Treasure Trove Unit.

Unlike the United States, treasure hunting laws in Scotland and the U.K. encourage metal detectorists to turn significant finds in to the government, where an inquest determines if they constitute “treasure” under the law.  Although the law defines such items as property of the Crown, they aren’t simply seized by the government. Their value is assessed by independent experts, and the items are offered to museums to bid on at the appraised value. The money is then traditionally split between the finder and the land-owner.