Danish amateur metal detectorist found buried treasure from the Iron Age just hours after turning on his metal detector. It has created a gold rush in Denmark.
According to a press release from the Vejle Museums in southeastern Jutland, the “enormous” find consists of almost one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of gold buried 1,500 years ago. It is described by the museum as “one of the largest, richest and most beautiful gold treasures in Danish history so far.”
Ole Ginnerup Schytz stumbled across one of the largest gold treasures in the country’s history; huge medallions the size of saucers, coins, and jewelry, nearly 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of gold. The museum reports that the treasure had been buried for 1,500 years.
The hoard was discovered in Vindelev, near the Danish town of Jelling. An Iron Age chieftain may have buried the gold to appease the gods after a volcano eruption. Ginnerup Schytz found the treasure on land belonging to a former classmate.
Mads Ravn, head of research at Vejlemuseerne, told CNN that he almost fell off his chair when Schytz sent him a photo of an object, asking him if it was anything significant. The first piece he found was full of scratches and covered in mud and looked like the lid of a can of herring.
“Well, that’s the epitome of improbable luck,” the rookie detectorist said in an interview with Danish outlet TV Syd. “Denmark is 43,000 square kilometers, and then I happen to choose to put the detector exactly where this find was.”
The Vindelev Hoard
Over the last nine months, archaeologists from the Vejlemuseerne have carefully excavated the site along with a team from the National Museum, uncovering the treasure.
The artifacts were buried in a longhouse by an Iron Age chieftain, revealing that Vindelev was a center of power at the time, says the museum. “Only a member of the absolute cream of society would have been able to collect a treasure like the one found here,” Mads Ravn, head of research at Vejle Museums, said in a statement announcing the finding to the public.
The treasure is now known as the Vindelev Hoard. It consists of decorated saucer-sized medallions known as bracteates as well as Roman coins that were turned into jewelry. One of the bracteates is decorated with a male head and a number of runes, as well as a horse and a bird. A runic inscription on the horse reads “the high one,” according to preliminary research, which could refer to the chieftain or the god Odin. One of the Roman coins depicts the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, who ruled from 285-337 AD.
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At the time, Norse mythology was developing and would have been in competition with more ancient religions, said Ravn, around 300 years before the ancient sagas were written down.
A 2015 study found evidence that an ash cloud from a large volcanic eruption in 536 AD cooled the Scandinavian climate, causing crop failures and resulting in widespread famine. That’s right around the time the hoard was buried. Archaeologists have also found other gold hoards in the nearby area that date to the time period following the eruption. Together, this suggests Denmark’s occupants during the late Iron Age may have buried gold as a means of appeasing their gods during a chaotic time, according to museum experts.
The Vejle Museums in Jutland will exhibit the unprecedented find starting in February 2022.
Gold Rush in Denmark, written by Tor Kjolberg
All images by Vejle Museums