Many people enjoy taking the metal detector out on the beach and seeing what they can find. It’s a fun way to get some exercise and maybe find some interesting little trinkets. One man recently found something on the beach that instantly made him incredibly wealthy.

This discovery made headlines because most people find small items on the beach; these little items aren’t too valuable and are things like pocket change, lighters, or maybe a loose set of car keys. His discovery, however, was something different.

Derek McLennan is from Scotland. One day, he went out with his metal detector and two friends from church. The three often got together and combed the beaches with metal detectors, typically not finding much. On this particular day, however, he got a hit and assumed it was one of these small, insignificant trinkets.

When he initially looked at what he had found, he had no idea what it was. He first thought it was a silver spoon, which alone would have been an interesting find. But as he wiped away the sand, he noticed something unique about the spoon and knew he had found something special.

When he cleaned the item up a bit, he noticed a saltire design, or a St. Andrew’s Cross. This was a common symbol used by the Vikings. He immediately ran and told his friends that he found Viking-related items. This discovery was something much more valuable than just a regular spoon.

The group immediately called to Scotland’s Treasure Trove Unit who came to excavate the site. They called in archaeologists and, with McLennan’s help, began searching for any other artifacts in the sand. What they found completely blew them away.

Buried about two feet below the initial finding, they found a group of artifacts dating back to approximately the 10th century. Continued digging revealed yet another trove of objects as the artifacts from the 10th century were removed and cataloged.  In total, more than 100 gold and silver Viking artifacts came from the site. Some experts called it “one of the most significant Viking hoards ever found in Scotland.”

Called the “Galloway Hoard,” the items found included armbands, a Christian cross, brooches, and ingots. Among the valuable artifacts, McLennan was most excited about a silver cross he found. He marveled at the rich decoration on the front following the much-needed cleaning of the cross. 

McLennan allowed the National Museum of Scotland to take possession of the items because they were of such great historical value. Fortunately, he didn’t have to give these items up for free. Because he was the finder, the museum paid a fee for these priceless artifacts. In total, he received about $1.4 million. Not bad for a simple day at the beach.

This is a great story all around. McLennan found priceless pieces of history which will now be studied and preserved properly. Plus, he received fair compensation for his discoveries. Who knew there were such valuable items buried right in the sand?