Novice metal detecting safari park keeper finds £1 million Iron Age hoard in Scotland

By Culture24 Staff | 05 November 2009
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A picture of a bald man posing with gold necklaces on a table

(Above) Finder David Booth with the unprecedented Iron Age treasures

A safari park keeper who took up metal detecting as an outdoor hobby has described the "unbelievable" moment when he unearthed a £1 million Iron Age treasure hoard on one of his first outings with his new toy.

David Booth became the talk of Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling, when rumours began circulating a fortnight ago that the popular 35-year-old had found four gold neckbands dating from 2,000 years ago in nearby grassland.

A picture of a set of gold necklaces being handled on a table

The details of the torcs reveal the wealth and connections of Scotland at the time

The national Treasure Trove Unit, who Booth was legally obliged to hand his stash to, have refused to name the precise location of the find, persuading local press to keep the secret under wraps.

The Museum of Scotland is now preparing to display the torcs, which date from between 300 BC and 100 BC. The artefacts reveal the wealth and international connections of Scotland at that time, hinted at by an ornate design of southern French origin and a braided gold wire showing strong influences of Mediterranean craftsmanship.

"I don't think it's really sunk in yet since the moment I discovered it," Booth said.

"I'd only had the detector for five days. I'd just practised around the house with nails and bits and pieces.

"I went with it for the first time, parked the vehicle up, got out, picked a direction to set off on and about seven yards away that was the first thing I came across."

Unlike in England, where the recent Staffordshire Hoard discovery became the lucrative property of the landowners and finders, Scottish treasures automatically come under the ownership of the Crown. However, experts expect Booth to receive a financial reward equalling the value of the discoveries.

Curator Fraser Hunter, from the Museum of Scotland, told Sky News he was "absolutely amazed" by the pieces.

"You just don't expect to see this kind of stuff in Scotland," he admitted.

"It changes our view of the Scottish Iron Age."

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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