THE metal detectorists who unearthed one of the country's most significant Viking hoards are expected to share in a £2 million windfall from the National Museum of Scotland.

Derek McLennan and Sharon McKee discovered the Galloway Hoard in 2014.

It was described an “unparalleled” find of Viking-age gold, silver and jewelled treasures – a trove which had been buried for a 1000 years.

Now the cache of riches, which is the property of the Crown, has been officially allocated to National Museums Scotland, which has six months to raise the £1.98m cash to acquire the collection for the nation.

The money, the museums said, will be paid as an “ex gratia award” to the finders.

The museums (NMS) allocation by the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR) was welcomed by Ms McKee and Mr McLennan, who said: “We are honoured and feel privileged to have saved this internationally significant treasure and we look forward to the many exciting discoveries that will be further revealed.

“We cannot wait for its eventual display in Scotland’s National Museum.”

However, the decision has disappointed campaigners in Dumfries and Galloway, where it was discovered, who wished for the treasure to be displayed in a museum in Kirkcudbright.

Cathy Agnew, chair of the campaign to battling to retain the ancient find for the region, said: “This treasure was buried in Galloway for safekeeping 1,000 years ago – it is deeply disappointing that the QLTR believes it should be allocated to the National Museum in Edinburgh where it will potentially be lost amongst so many other wonderful artefacts.

“This is a most unfortunate decision for the region and for Scotland."

The Galloway Hoard contains more than 100 gold, silver and other items from the Viking Age. It was buried at the beginning of the 10th century, although some of the items date from an earlier period.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of NMS said: “We now have six months to raise £1.98m to acquire this unique treasure for the nation and ensure it can be enjoyed by future generations both at home and abroad.”

The bulk of the find is silver jewellery and ingots.

It also contains precious metal and jewelled items including a rare gold ingot, a gold bird-shaped pin and a decorated silver-gilt cup of Continental or Byzantine origin.

The cup is wrapped in textiles and is the only complete lidded vessel of its type ever discovered in Britain or Ireland. This vessel contains further unusual objects: beads, amulets of glass and rock crystal, pilgrimage relics, a silver penannular brooch, another rare gold ingot, five Anglo-Saxon disc brooches of a kind not found in Scotland before and jewelled aestels, or pointers, used to read and mark places within medieval manuscripts.

The museum said that “due to its nature and importance, the hoard will require considerable specialist input from the team at National Museums Scotland to properly conserve, interpret and prepare for the display of the material.

“National Museums aims to ensure that it can be enjoyed and understood by visitors from Scotland, the rest of the UK and internationally.”

It added, in a statement: “National Museums believes that it is important there is a display of the hoard in Dumfries and Galloway, and intends to continue to seek a dialogue with Dumfries and Galloway Council to ensure that a representative portion of the hoard goes on long-term display in Kirkcudbright Art Gallery.”