Metal detectorists make 300 significant finds in Scotland

Metal detectorist Derek McLennan pictured with the Viking  cross discovered  in Dumfries and Galloway. He found more than 100 at an undisclosed Chuch of Scotland site.
Metal detectorist Derek McLennan pictured with the Viking cross discovered in Dumfries and Galloway. He found more than 100 at an undisclosed Chuch of Scotland site.
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Rewards paid to metal detectorists who have discovered items of historical importance in Scotland have risen.

Almost 300 significant finds were placed in museums across the country after being found by members of the public and referred to the Treasure Trove Unit - which secures items of behalf of the nation.

The 15th Century gold finger ring found at Loch Leven, Perth and Kinross. Now with National Museums Scotland.

The 15th Century gold finger ring found at Loch Leven, Perth and Kinross. Now with National Museums Scotland.

Last year, 294 members of the public contacted the Treasure Trove Unit, which works on behalf of the Crown, with news of their discoveries.

This was up from 265 the year before.

While some members of the public waive their fees, £67,580 was paid out to finders in 2014/2015 - up from just over £50,000 the year before.

The items were examined over two meetings of the evaluations panel held in July and Novemebr 2014.

The 17th Century poesy ring found by a member of the public in Inverbervie, Aberdeenshire, who received �700 from the Treasure Trove Unit.

The 17th Century poesy ring found by a member of the public in Inverbervie, Aberdeenshire, who received �700 from the Treasure Trove Unit.

Money paid out by the unit last year would have risen to just over £92,035 had a third panel meeting scheduled for March this year not been postponed.

The total does not include the Viking hoard discovered in Dumfries and Galloway in October 2014 by metal dectorists Derek McLennan on Church of Scotland land.

More than 100 items were found by Mr McLennan - including what is believed to be a 9th Century Christian cross - with further evaluation work now being conducted at the site by Historic Scotland.

During 2014/2015, finders fees ranged from between £20 and £20,000. the latest annual report from the Treasure Trove Unit (TTU) shows.

Both Perth and Kinross and the Borders recorded the highest number of Treasure Trove cases with 17 significant discoveries - either chance finds or archaeological assemblages discovered by professionals - made in each area.

Finds in Perth and Kinross inlcuded a medieval silver finger ring discovered at Bankfoot.

It now sits in Perth Museum and Art Gallery, with the finder paid £1,500 by the Treasure Trove Unit (TTU).

A medieval gold finger ring found at Loch Leven was one of the most significant discoveries by a member of the public last year.

While its stone is missing, TTU described the ring as “undoubtedly a high quality piece that would represent a challenge to the medieval goldsmith and in both complexity and form this is an unsual survival in a Scottish context.”

The ring now sits in National Museums Scotland, its finders fee undisclosed.

Other significant finds include a 17th Century finger ring found at Inverbervie, Aberdeenshire, which is inscribed with the romantic poesy ‘God above incress out love”.

Its finder received £700 with the ring allocated to Aberdeenshire Heritage at Mintlaw.

In Angus, 12 discoveries were made, with several large medieval coin hoards found at Kirriemuir.

In Edinburgh, 10 finds - either by the public or as part of an organised dig - were made with a middle bronze age axehead discovered near Ratho one of the key discoveries.

Its finder received £300 from the TTU with the piece now allocated to East Lothian Council Museums Service now holding the piece.

In Highland, a member of the public discovered a bronze torq, designed to be worn round the neck, which the first of its kind found in Scotland.

Found at Nairn, experts at the TTU believe the piece was worn regularly by its owner and dates back to the 1st or 2nd Century AD. A “massive and highly decorated” brooch was also found.

“Both are imposing objects and would have functioned as symbolsof status to demonstrate the importance of the wearer.

“The discovery of two such unusual objects so close together suggest they may have been buried as a ritual act, a religious offering where items are removed from use in this workd and offered instead to the gods.”

The two pieces are now with National Museums Scotland, the finders fee undisclosed.

The number of cases dealt with TTU remained steady last year, with 158 cases of significance handled by the unit.

However, number of items being placed in Scotland’s museums last year fell from from 825 to 284 last year.

The figure would have rised to 469 had the third meeting of the panel not been postponed.

Just over 1,650 individual items were referred to the unit by members of the public in total.