Metal detectorists taken to court by Church of Scotland over £2 million treasure haul

The Church of Scotland is taking a metal detectorist to court over a dispute of a £2 million treasure haul.

Sunday, 15th September 2019, 15:02 pm
The Galloway Hoard will be displayed in the National Museum of Scotland until November

Derek McLennan, from Ayrshire, found more than 100 objects including gold jewellery, brooches and pins on Church of Scotland land in 2014.

After finding the Viking treasures, National Museums Scotland raised nearly £2 million to purchase the items with the church told they would get a share of the money.

However, the Sunday Post reported that the Kirk has lodged an action at the Court of Session against Mr McLennan after the money never materialised.

Reverend David Bartholomew, who was with Mr McLennan when he found the hoard, told the paper he was sad that the disagreement between the Kirk and his friend had been forced into court.

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He said: "Derek was my friend and it is sad that it has come to this.

"It is my understanding there was always an agreement the money would be shared with the Church.

"I'm surprised Derek would go back on a deal because he had done everything by the book at all times. I don't understand why he would, it is not a thing that can be avoided."

In Scotland, the rules around hoards are different to south of the border where the landowner and the finder split the profits.

Instead, it is the metal detectorist who decides how much, if any, is paid to landowners.

Last autumn, church officials tried to make contact with Mr McLennan to no avail.

Rev Bartholomew added: "There is an unwritten rule around metal detectorists that you split any find with the landowner, otherwise they might not give you permission to search on their ground.

"The Church knew I was Derek's friend and I was with at the time of the find so I phoned, emailed and wrote to him but I never heard anything back.

"I even went to visit him at his house but I could never get him at home, so I was asked to give a statement to the Church about it.

"It is my understanding the Church did not want to go through the courts as it does no one any good."

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."