A man with a metal detector unearths a major gold treasure in Denmark

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A 1500-year-old pre-Viking discovery is one of the most significant gold troves consisting of over 20 precious objects, which makes it a crucial find in Danish history

Ole Ginnerup Schytz was walking with an old classmate in Denmark’s town of Vindelev with a metal detector in his hand in December last year.

A few hours later, the detector beeped and he found what is qualitatively one of the greatest gold discoveries in Danish history, a 1500-year-old gold treasure. But at that moment, he was not aware of it.

First, he unearthed a small piece of bent metal while digging.

“It was full of smashes and mud. I had no idea about it. The only thing I could think of was that it looked like the lid of a can of sour herring,” he told a Danish TV channel on Monday.

But then, as he continued to dig, he encountered about 20 precious objects consisting of huge medallions called bracteates with the size of saucers, and coins and jewellery from the Roman Empire. Most probably, they were worn as ornamentation or clothes.

After this enormous discovery, the site was excavated by archaeologists. Now, they know that the treasure was buried under a longhouse about 1,500 years ago.

The immense gold trove weighs almost 1kg, according to Vejlemuseerne, the museum consortium in Vejle, Denmark. The museum revealed the findings on Sunday while describing them as ‘one of the largest, richest and most beautiful gold treasures in Danish history’.

According to experts, the objects of pre-Viking treasure occur in a technique and combination that has never been seen before when considering other similar examples. Thereby, they are described as unique. 

Some objects have motifs that may refer to the rulers of that time while some symbols and writings carry Nordic mythology spirit.

The objects of pre-Viking treasure considered as unique since they occur in a technique and combination that has never been seen before (Vejlemuseerne)
The objects of pre-Viking treasure considered as unique since they occur in a technique and combination that has never been seen before (Vejlemuseerne)
(Conservation Center Vejle, Vejlemuseerne / )

Among the bracteates, one stands out in this sense. It has a male head with a braided chain and many runes on it. Under the head, there is a horse, a bird and a runic inscription between the horse’s muzzle and forelimbs that says ‘houaʀ’.  The inscription means ‘the High’ and possibly refers to the ruler of the time or cherishes the Norse god Odin in a methodological context.

The experts now believe that Vindelev was a centre of a great empire during the late Iron Age (Vejlemuseerne)
The experts now believe that Vindelev was a centre of a great empire during the late Iron Age (Vejlemuseerne)
(Conservation Center Vejle, Vejlemuseerne / )

The most notable coin, on the other hand, comes from the Roman Empire and consists of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great’s face as engraved on the coin.

According to the researchers, this golden fest displays the European continent’s close connection with trade and wars since the Iron Age.

They assume that the treasure has been buried during the aftermath of a global climate disaster.  In the year 536, a volcano exploded and created a massive ash cloud that caused misgrowth and famine for many years.  This catastrophe caused the inhabitants of today’s Denmark to refuse their old rulers and cache lots of gold either to hide them from their rivals or to satisfy the fierce gods amid the chaotic period.

Considering this entire collection, the experts now believe that Vindelev was a centre of a great empire during the late Iron Age.  

The precious objects of the Vindelev treasure are expected to be exhibited in February 2022 at the Vejlemuseerne museum before moving to The National Museum.

Source: TRT World

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