Sunday, 15 September 2019

Not in it For the Money, Or Perhaps We Are Really...

Reportedly, a treasure hunter is being sued by the Church of Scotland over a record £2million haul of Viking relics he found on their land (Kevin Duguid, 'Treasure hunter sued by Church of Scotland over record £2million haul of Viking relics he found on their land' The Scottish Sun, 14th September 2019) Kirk chiefs are said to be demanding Derek McLennan, 52, hands over £1million after he allegedly snubbed a written agreement to give them half the value of his bounty. This refers to a much trumpeted find from Dumfries and Galloway in 2014
The metal detector buff now faces a legal challenge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh [...] One source said last night [...] “The church could do a lot of good with that money. It was church land they were on [...] “You don’t want to get in a legal wrangle over it. Why would anyone let him on to their land again — or any other detectorist?” [...] the retired businessmen, from Ayr, was promised the bumper reward three years later under Scots treasure trove laws. His payment was raised through more than £430,000 in public donations, £1million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, £150,000 from the Scottish Government and £400,000 from the Art Fund. [...] In this case there was a written agreement between the general trustees of the Church of Scotland and Derek.” [...] The Church of Scotland confirmed their court action.
His former detecting pal talked about the fracas:
The minister said charity champion Derek felt let down by experts drafted in after his discovery. He added: “He felt very badly treated by the treasure trove system in Scotland who decide on rewards. Experts took control and he was pushed to the edge a bit. He did everything by the book in terms of working with the system. “But he felt because of the way he was treated by the system he wanted to put the whole thing behind him.” 
Here's a text about his complaint about his 'treatment'  and here's about those public funds he gets.

It seems it could be even worse if you look at the comments. A "Susannah McSweeney" alleged on 15th September:
Derek also broke gentelman" agreements with his team mates, including my husband. There was 4 of them including Derek's wife sharon, not just the church of Scotland. [...] The other 2 men including my husband were also snubbed by Derek after the viking hoard was claimed and since broken off all contact and never had any recognition for being there to unearth the treasure. What was done was shady and despicable.
What is worth noting however is that the Church claims there was a written agreement, not just a "gentleman's agreement". If what Mrs McSweeney alleges is true, one detectorist first pushes aside three other blokes, and then attempts to lay claim to the entire reward for himself alleging that he was "sidelined by the experts". If that is true, all very odd and immature.

The BBC also has picked up the story: BBC, 'Church of Scotland sues for share of £2m Viking treasure', 15th September 2019.

There is an added detail in another source (Russell Blackstock, 'Kirk to sue treasure hunter claiming he reneged on promise to share proceeds of £2 million Viking hoard found buried on church land' The Sunday Post September 15, 2019):
Following the find, Mr McLennan and his detectorist wife Sharon launched a firm called Beyond The Beep, to work with the Coming Home Centre for ex-forces personnel in Glasgow and veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress. [...] Derek McLennan found the Viking treasure just months after discovering hundreds of medieval coins in Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire, in another landmark find. He only started using a metal detector a few years before two stunning discoveries.
Beyond the Beep does not seem to be all that active these days. Here's John Winter enthusing about it. But here's the Minelab spiel on it:
We'd like to introduce Sharon McKee and Derek McLennan of Beyond The Beep, Scotland, to our Treasure Talk audience. Sharon and Derek have 12 years of combined detecting experience and for the last few years have used a wide range of Minelab machines, from the GO-FIND Series through to the GPX 5000 for personal detecting and to promote responsible detecting through their not-for-profit company, Beyond The Beep. Since February 2015, the couple have been regularly providing outdoor learning experiences in schools, and they have also created and implemented a detecting programme for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). [...] Derek mostly uses the CTX 3030, but when on a hoard site, the GPX 5000 comes out, as he loves the depth these machines can reach. [...] After the discovery of The Galloway Viking Hoard, the enterprising pair created their company Beyond The Beep to teach about responsible detecting and to promote the health and educational benefits that detecting brings [...] The programme is also supported by the National Council of Metal Detecting in the UK, to which Beyond The Beep is affiliated.
All in this together, eh? Derek McLennan is also a ML detexpert Now that GPX is one of those "depth advantage" machines that Heritage Action and I have been going on about for a good few years now, but the implications of which are being systematically ignored by the archaeological community, but look at this remark:
Last week, Mr McLennan’s friend and fellow metal detector enthusiast, the Rev David Bartholomew, who was with him when he made his discovery, told how [...] Mr McLennan had searched the unidentified area of Church of Scotland land for more than a year in the hunt for treasure. [...] Mr McLennan, 50, unearthed the valuables two feet beneath the ground – well below the depth his machine should pick up a signal. [...] Mr Bartholomew said: “I would never have found the hoard. Derek did because he is a gifted detectorist. “I was just pleased to be part of an amazing day.”
and would like that money from a pagan hoard to go to the Church and used for the benefit of the parishoners.


Hougenai said...

The BBC article ( describes the finder as 'Businessman and amateur detectorist'.
The bloke has just 'robbed' a cool two million so how on earth can he be considered an amateur anything.
Along with most detectorists he's a professional chancer and not nearly as responsible as they consider themselves.
With a hint of luck, in this case, his breach of contract could cost him the lot. We can only hope.

Paul Barford said...

Certainly I hope that a real fuss will be kicked up, pour encourager les autres by which I have in mind canny landowners that let folk onto their land, FIRST establish exactly what will happen before they take anything away, and how the landowner will be financially compensated for all of it. Let's see some written agreement templates created that leave grabby hunters no wriggle room for walking off with the loot.

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