Church of Scotland sues treasure hunter over share of £2m Viking hoard

Some of the items discovered by metal detectorist Derek McLennan(Photo: National Museums of Scotland)

A treasure hunter is being sued by the Church of Scotland following the discovery of a £2m Viking hoard on their land.

The Church has begun legal proceedings against metal detectorist Derek McLennan at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. 

The Church of Scotland claims that it is entitled to a share of the reward money. 

Mr McLennan, an amateur metal detectorist, discovered the treasure trove on land belonging to the Church in Galloway, south-west Scotland, in 2014. 

The hoard yielded up numerous gold and silver objects dating back 1,200 years. Among the impressive discoveries were an early Christian cross, a rare intact Carolingian pot and bird-shaped gold pin. 

The items were bought by National Museums Scotland for £2m and are due to go on tour next year.  Following the tour, the objects will be put on permanent display in Edinburgh. 

The rules in Scotland governing the discovery of ancient artefacts mean that only the finder is entitled to any reward money.  This differs from the rest of the UK where any payout is shared between the finder and the landowner. 

A church minister who had been out metal detecting with Mr McLennan when the hoard was discovered told The Scottish Sun that an agreement had allegedly been reached to share the reward 50-50 with the Church. 

A Church of Scotland spokesperson said: "We can confirm that 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."