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Twynholm Hoard

Two men used metal detectors to discover what is believed to be Scotland's largest yield of medieval silver coins after terrible hurricane weather.

Derek McLennan and Gus Paterson spent five hours in torrential rain and strong winds during their search near Kirkcudbright and were on the verge of ending their search.

However, after stumbling on a few silver coins, they decided to continue their hunt and eventually found more than 300. The coins, dating from about 1249 to 1325, show profiles of monarchs including Alexander III of Scotland and John Balliol, who ruled from 1292 to 1296, as well as Edward I, Edward II and Edward III.

The find has been declared the Treasury of Scotland, a body that ensures that important items from the country's past are preserved in museums for the public good.

The two men were searching a field near Twinholm shortly before Christmas when they were close to giving up. McLennan, 46, explained, "We searched for about five hours in terrible weather, with horizontal rain and 60 mph winds, and we both felt pretty exhausted in the last field before we headed for the car.

"I went one direction and Gus went the other. Gus was lucky enough to get the first two coins. I'm sure you can imagine, there was jubilation all around.

Friends who both live in Hollybush, near Ayr, said they had an inkling they might find something in the field, but nothing prepared them for what they found underground - at least 322 coins.

"We did quite a bit of research and targeted that particular area," added Mr. McLennan, a retired businessman. "We searched several fields around it before we stumbled upon it - a little luck. Although it's a hobby, we take it seriously, so we knew right away it was medieval minted coins.

"It was actually two glued together, which is very unusual, so we figured there might be a cluster of coins in the area, and we just started searching."

They collected about 40 coins the first day of their search as darkness fell, but on subsequent trips to the site they found 282 more.

Mr. Paterson, a 48-year-old social worker who has only been detecting for ten months, recalls, "We knew right away it could be a hoard of coins stacked on top of each other.

Twynholm Hoard

"I couldn't turn around for signals, my detector would just make a noise," ding, ding, ding." You'll know when you hit silver."

He said the estimated value of the coins was estimated at about £15,000, but added: "We estimate it to be between £25,000 and £45,000, as there are some very rare coins."

Although the treasure seekers have no legitimate claim to a reward, it is likely that both men will be paid ex gratia for their booty depending on its market value.

Mr. McLennan said that the find had been reported to the Scottish Treasures Department and that neither man intended to profit from his find.

He said: "We're not in it for the money.

"We're just doing it for the history, the love of the hobby and to connect with other like-minded people."

Archaeologists from the Treasures Division, run by the Crown Office, have not yet examined the coins.