Trove of Sixth-Century Gold Jewelry Found by Amateur Treasure Hunter

Gold bracteates found in Denmark
Experts say the cache is one of the largest and most significant of its kind ever found in Denmark. Vejlemuseerne

First-time treasure hunter Ole Ginnerup Schytz had only been out with his new metal detector for a few hours when he stumbled onto an astounding discovery: a stash of 1,500-year-old gold artifacts dated to the Iron Age. Now, experts have deemed the find—made in a field near the town of Jelling in southwestern Denmark last December—one of the largest and most important in Danish history.

Schytz recalls hearing the device activate, then moving aside soil to uncover a small, bent piece of metal.

“It was scratched and covered in mud,” he tells Steffen Neupert of Danish broadcast station TV Syd, per a translation by Sarah Cascone of Artnet News. “I had no idea, so all I could think of was that it looked like the lid of a can of herring.”

The amateur metal detectorist had actually unearthed what turned out to be the first of 22 pieces of sixth-century gold jewelry. In total, the trove weighed just over two pounds.

Speaking with TV Syd, as quoted by Felix Allen of the Sun, Schytz calls the find “the epitome of pure luck.”

He adds, “Denmark is [16,621 square miles], and then I happened to choose to put the detector exactly where this find was.”

Close-up view of gold artifact found in the cache
Close-up view of gold artifact found in the cache Konserveringscenter Vejle / Vejlemuseerne

Months after Schytz’s chance discovery, the Vejlemuseerne in Jutland has finally revealed the ancient treasures to the public.

“This is the biggest find that has come in the 40 years I have been at the National Museum [of Denmark],” archaeologist Peter Vang Petersen tells TV Syd, per Artnet News. “We have to go back to the 16th and 18th centuries to find something similar.”

According to a statement, the haul consists primarily of bracteates—medallions that were popular in northern Europe during the Migration Period (roughly 300 to 700 C.E.). Women would have worn the pendants, which were often inscribed with magical symbols or runes, for protection.

Many of the symbols seen on the newly unearthed bracteates are unfamiliar to experts, Mads Ravn, director of research at the Vejle museums, tells Agence France-Presse (AFP). Interpreting them will help shed light on the little-understood societies that inhabited the region prior to the Vikings.

“It is the symbolism represented on these objects that makes them unique, more than the quantity found,” says Ravn.

One of the medallions depicts the Norse god Odin and appears to be based on similar Roman jewelry that celebrated emperors as gods, reports TV Syd.

“Here we see Nordic mythology in its infancy,” says Vang Petersen, as quoted by the Sun. “The Scandinavians have always been good at getting ideas from what they saw in foreign countries, and then turning it into something that suits them.”

Gold objects found by amateur treasure hunter
Many of the symbols seen on the bracteates are unfamiliar to researchers. Konserveringscenter Vejle / Vejlemuseerne

Older artifacts found in the cache include gold coins from the Roman Empire that were converted into jewelry. One depicts Constantine the Great, who ruled between 306 and 337 C.E. The coin’s presence suggests that Jelling, known to be a cradle of the Viking civilization between the 8th and 12th centuries, was a center of power with trade links across the European continent, according to Artnet News.

The objects’ immaculate craftsmanship points to their original owner’s probable high status.

“Only one member of society’s absolute top [would have] been able to collect a treasure like the one found here,” says Ravn in the statement.

When experts excavated the site where Schytz found the hoard, they discovered the ruins of a village longhouse. Without the amateur treasure hunter’s discovery, “there was nothing that could [have made] us predict that an unprecedented warlord or great man lived here, long before the kingdom of Denmark arose in the following centuries,” Ravn adds.

Archaeologists posit that the gold was buried to protect it from invaders, or as a last-ditch offering to the gods. The find is dated to around 536, when a volcanic eruption in Iceland covered the sky in ash and caused widespread famine in Scandinavia. Other gold troves found in the region, including a group of 32 artifacts unearthed on the island of Hjarnø, have been dated to around this same time.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.

Related Posts

Archaeological Revelation: Unearthing a 230-Million-Year-Old “Hybrid” Creature Between Crocodile and Bird

Αt the eпd of the Trіassіc рeriod, the lапd of whаt іs пow the ѕtate of Wyomіпg of the Uпіted Stаtes exіsted а ѕtraпge beаst wіth а рarrot-like beаk, а dіпosaυr body. It wаs паmed Beeѕiiwo сooowυse, а пew ѕpecieѕ. The Beаst Jυѕt Αррeared іп ΑmerіcaThe …

Read more

Frozen Heritage: Unraveling the Enigma of Ötzi, the 5,300-Year-Old Icebound Man Preserved in Time

Iп 1991, two Germап hіkers ѕtυmbled υрoп а frozeп сorpse thаt hаd beeп іmmacυlately рreserved beпeаth the іce іп the Eаsterп Alрs for over fіve mіlleпіa. Sіпce the dіscovery, the 5300-yeаr-old mυmmy – kпowп аs “Iсemaп” or “Ötzі” – hаs рroveп а paleomicrobiological …

Read more

Echoes from the Past: Deciphering the Mystery of 80 Ancient Skeletons Found with Hands Raised Above Heads

Arсhaeologists hаve dіѕсovered 80 апсіeпt mаle ѕkeletoпѕ іп а bυrіаl ѕіte, dаtіпg bасk to the 7th сeпtυry BCE, іп the Fаlіro rіver deltа regіoп, ѕoυtherп Atheпѕ. The ѕkeletoпѕ were foυпd аrrапged wіth theіr hапdѕ tіed аbove theіr heаdѕ. A hyрotheѕіѕ ѕυggeѕtѕ …

Read more

Unraveling Mysteries: Exploring the Secrets of Ancient Egyptian Mummies

The mυmmy of Lаdy Rаi іs oпe of the oldeѕt kпowп mυmmіes υпсovered іп Egyрt. She wаs dіscovered іп 1881 апd reѕearcherѕ eѕtimate thаt ѕhe wаs аboυt 30 – 40 yeаrs old wheп ѕhe dіed аroυпd 1530 BC. From the wrіtіпgs left behіпd аboυt Lаdy Rаi, we kпow thаt …

Read more

The Tіmeless Sрlendor: Reveаling the Wonderѕ of Tutankhamun’s Tomb

In t𝚑𝚎 𝚑𝚎𝚊𝚛t 𝚘𝚏 t𝚑𝚎 v𝚊st E𝚐𝚢𝚙ti𝚊n 𝚍𝚎s𝚎𝚛t, 𝚋𝚎n𝚎𝚊t𝚑 l𝚊𝚢𝚎𝚛s 𝚘𝚏 s𝚊n𝚍 𝚊n𝚍 st𝚘n𝚎, l𝚊𝚢 𝚊 s𝚎c𝚛𝚎t w𝚊itin𝚐 t𝚘 𝚋𝚎 𝚞nc𝚘v𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚍. It w𝚊s 𝚊 s𝚎c𝚛𝚎t w𝚑is𝚙𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚍 t𝚑𝚛𝚘𝚞𝚐𝚑 t𝚑𝚎 win𝚍s 𝚘𝚏 tim𝚎, 𝚊 m𝚢st𝚎𝚛𝚢 s𝚑𝚛𝚘𝚞𝚍𝚎𝚍 in t𝚑𝚎 𝚎ni𝚐m𝚊tic 𝚊𝚞𝚛𝚊 𝚘𝚏 𝚊nci𝚎nt E𝚐𝚢𝚙t. It w𝚊s t𝚑𝚎 t𝚘m𝚋 𝚘𝚏 T𝚞t𝚊nk𝚑𝚊m𝚞n, …

Read more

The Monumental Statue of Ramesses II

The Statue of Ramesses II is a giant sculpture of 12 meters high carved in the New Kingdom of Egypt, during the reign of Ramses II, Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. FindingThe colossus was discovered in 1820 by the Italian traveler Giovanni …

Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *