Scotland's 'biggest ever' hoard of buried treasure ever found

The ‘biggest ever’ hoard of buried treasure ever found in Scotland was unearthed in a field after 700 years by metal detectorists: Experts catalogue more than 8,000 silver coins

  • Biggest ever hoard of ancient treasure in Scotland found in Dumfriesshire village
  • Detectorists found 8,407 coins which could be worth 100s of 1000s of pounds
  • The coins are mostly Edward I and II pennies from the 13th and 14th Centuries 
  • UK has seen detecting boom in the past few years with 12,263 found this year

A huge haul of ancient coins has been unearthed by metal detectorists in what is believed to be the single biggest hoard of ancient treasure ever found in Scotland.

The find of 8,407 silver coins has been labelled the Dunscore Hoard after the Dumfriesshire village near to where it was discovered.

It is now being catalogued by experts. While its exact value is at present being assessed, it is likely to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The hoard is just one part of a massive stockpile of treasure unearthed after the Covid lockdown sparked a boom in amateur metal detector use across Scotland.

The volume of finds in the past couple of years is so huge that Scotland’s national Treasure Trove Unit has required additional staff.

Artefacts are now being handed in at a rate of more than 200 a week. In Scotland, any artefact believed to be of archaeological significance must by law be reported to the authorities.

The Dunscore find has been recognised by officials as the biggest medieval coin hoard found in Scotland for at least 200 years – and could be the biggest ever.

PRETTY PENNY: A coin like many of the 8,407 which have been found in a hoard dating from Edward I

 The hoard is just one part of a massive stockpile of treasure unearthed after the Covid lockdown sparked a boom in amateur metal detector use across Scotland (file photo)

The coins were discovered last year and it is thought they are primarily Edward I and II pennies, dating back to the 13th and 14th Century, as well as hundreds of other silver pieces from Britain and Europe. A source said: ‘This is an absolutely amazing find. After the initial discovery, the site was excavated by Treasure Trove Unit officials along with National Museums Scotland archaeologists and now each coin is being catalogued.

‘This requires identifying, photographing, measuring and weighing each one.’ A Treasure Trove Unit spokesman confirmed: ‘The Dunscore Hoard is one of the largest medieval coin hoards found in Scotland since the 19th Century. It contains a mixture of Scottish, English, Irish and continental silver coins.’

Amid a boom in the number of metal detector enthusiasts across the UK in the past few years, an astonishing 12,263 artefacts have been taken in so far this year by the Treasure Trove Unit in Scotland, including the Dunscore Hoard.

The unit has also recorded around 900 finds since October. By comparison, there were 1,551 artefacts received in the whole of 2019. The current backlog is understood to be in excess of 5,000. A Crown Office report this year highlighted a ‘review of Treasure Trove policies’ following the lockdown boom and that the number of finds had led to a need for additional staff.

The report added: ‘Given lockdown issues and an increased public interest in using metal detectors, there is a significant backlog of recovered artefacts awaiting appraisal.’

The Dunscore find was made just 20 miles from Balmaghie, the location in 2014 of what became known as the Galloway Hoard. It was the finest collection of Viking Age objects ever located in Britain and is understood to have been acquired under treasure trove rules for almost £2 million.

A hoard is a find of multiple artefacts, such as coins, precious metals and jewellery, which were believed to have been deliberately buried or hidden. Theories as to why they were buried and then abandoned range from a means to protect the items, a ritual sacrifice, or that they were discarded by accident.

Under the Scottish system, the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel is responsible for advising the King’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer, part of the Crown Office, on artefacts and the level of payment, known as an ex gratia award, which is given to the finder.

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