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Scots Law Tales$
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John Grant and Elaine E. Sutherland

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781845860677

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781845860677.001.0001

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St Ninian's Isle Treasure

St Ninian's Isle Treasure

Lord Advocate v University of Aberdeen and Budge*

(p.111) Chapter 7 St Ninian's Isle Treasure
Scots Law Tales

David L Carey Miller

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores the legal dispute between the University of Aberdeen and the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer (QLTR) of the Crown regarding the ownership of St. Ninian's isle treasure in Shetland. The University, led by Principal Thomas Taylor QC, initially intended to house the treasure in the Museum of Marischal College until such time as a suitable museum was available in Shetland. However, the Crown, through QLTR, claimed its absolute right of ownership over the treasure based on the quod nullius principle — the vesting of the title to ownerless moveable goods, which had been previously owned, in the Crown. As a defence, the University argued that, under the udal tenure law, the absolute ownership of buried things is vested in the landowner. Despite the quashing of the University's claim, the treasure remained in their possession for about two years before it was transferred to the Crown.

Keywords:   University of Aberdeen, Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer, Crown, St. Ninian, Shetland, Thomas Taylor QC, Museum of Marischal College, absolute right of ownership, quod nullius, udal tenure law

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