Metal Detector Uncovers 1,500-Year-Old Trove of Gold Treasure in Norway

Metal Detector Uncovers 1,500-Year-Old Trove of Gold Treasure in Norway

It was a great day outside, and Norwegian man Erlend Bore decided to go for a walk in the mountains. Bringing his metal detector with him, he didn’t expect that his childhood dream to become an archaeologist would come true. He just discovered a trove of gold treasure, which is already 1,500 years old.

A trove of gold treasure from Érlend Bore’s discovery.(Arkeologisk museum, Universitetet i Stavanger/YouTube)

Gold Treasure from AD500, Discovery of the Century

On the doctor’s advice, Bore went out walking with his metal detector. He didn’t expect that he would unearth the ‘gold find of the century’ that would also change his life.

He located the gold treasure on the southern island of Rennesøy, near Stavanger. He was about to go home when the metal detector started beeping. To his surprise, underneath the dirt are nine gold medallions and gold pearls that fashioned a luxurious necklace, including three gold rings. The pieces of jewellery, weighing a little over 100 grams, were made from around AD500.

Gold pearls detached from the necklace. (Arkeologisk museum, Universitetet i Stavanger/YouTube)

Bore said he thought those were chocolates or Captain Sabertooth coins. He couldn’t believe what he discovered and called the archaeologists to take over the search.

According to the archaeologists, Bore’s find is one-of-a-kind because of the medallions’ design. It’s a type of horse from Norse mythology.

The head of the University of Stavanger’s Museum of Archaeology, Ole Madsen said that it was the gold find of the century in Norway. Moreover, unearthing that entire trove of gold treasure is extraordinarily unusual.

“Given the location of the discovery and what we know from other similar finds, this is probably a matter of either hidden valuables or an offering to the gods during dramatic times,” said Håkon Reiersen, an associate professor at the museum.

He added the bracteates – flat, thin, and single-sided gold medals are archaic from the so-called migration period in Norway. This era ran between AD400 and around AD550 during widespread migrations in Europe. The pendants and gold pearls comprised an ornate necklace made by skilled jewellers and worn by the community’s most formidable.

Deciphering the Symbols

Sigmund Oehrl, also a professor at Stavanger’s Museum of Archaeology noted that almost 1,000 golden bracteates were found in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. He said that symbols on pendants usually depict the Norse god Odin treating his son’s sick horse. With Bore’s discovery, the animal is in a slouched position with twisted legs and a protruding tongue, indicating it was injured.

Gold pendant with a horse symbol. (Arkeologisk museum, Universitetet i Stavanger/YouTube)

“In these gold pendants, the horse’s tongue is hanging out, and it’s slumping posture and the twisted legs show that it is hurt. Just as with the Christian symbol of the cross which was becoming widespread in the Roman Empire at the time, this horse symbol represented disease and distress, but at the same time also hope of healing and new life,” said Oehrl.

In accordance with Norwegian law, Bore and the landowner will get a reward. The amount of the discovered gold treasure hasn’t been determined and disclosed. Relics or artefacts from before 1537, and coins older than 1650, are considered state property and should be turned in.

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