Teacher and student find Harald Bluetooth silver

Metal detector enthusiast Rene Schoen and his student, 13-year-old Luca Malaschnitschenko, were exploring a field near the village of Schaprode on the island of Ruegen in Northern Germany when they came across a circular piece of metal. At first Schoen thought it was a random bit of aluminium. After cleaning off some of the dirt and taking a closer look, he realized it was a coin.

Schoen is a volunteer with the Mecklenburg-West Pomerania state archaeology office, so he immediately reported the find. State archaeologists identified it as a silver coin from trading settlement of Hedeby. To prevent the treasure-hunters descending like locusts, they asked Schoen and Malaschnitschenko to keep their find a secret until the Office could arrange a thorough excavation of the site.

The coin was discovered in January, and archaeologists only broke ground this weekend. Still, in this brief period the team has excavated more than 4,000 square feet of the find site. The results have been nothing short of spectacular. They have unearthed a treasure far beyond the expectations set by a single silver coin, a hoard that could very well have belonged to King Harald Gormsson (r. 958-986), aka Harald Bluetooth, himself.

Braided necklaces, pearls, brooches, a Thor’s hammer, rings and up to 600 chipped coins were found, including more than 100 that date back to Bluetooth’s era, when he ruled over what is now Denmark, northern Germany, southern Sweden and parts of Norway.

“This trove is the biggest single discovery of Bluetooth coins in the southern Baltic Sea region and is therefore of great significance,” the lead archaeologist, Michael Schirren, told national news agency DPA.

The oldest coin is a Damascus dirham dating to 714 while the most recent is a penny dating to 983.

The find suggests that the treasure may have been buried in the late 980s – also the period when Bluetooth was known to have fled to Pomerania, where he died in 987.

“We have here the rare case of a discovery that appears to corroborate historical sources,” said the archaeologist Detlef Jantzen.

7 thoughts on “Teacher and student find Harald Bluetooth silver

  1. Historians debate the accuracy of the accounts of the Jomsvikings. Most scholars locate Jomsborg (where Harald died around 986), on the hill Silberberg, north of the town of Wolin in modern day Poland. It is thought by some researchers to be identical with Jumne, Julin and Vineta. It is assumed that the Curmsun Disc (“Gormson”) was part of a hoard found in 1840 in the Polish village Wiejkowo nearby.

    Hedeby, Heiðabýr and Haithabu are apparently the ‘daned’, ‘norsed’ and latinized form of ᚼᛅᛁᚦᛅ᛭ᛒᚢ (haitha bu), cf.: “Eodem tempore Godofridus rex Danorum venit cum classe sua necnon et omni equitatu regni sui ad locum, qui dicitur Sliesthorp” [the Frank Einhard reporting on Schleswig in 804 AD, next to Haithabu and the ‘Heath‘ in the ‘Schlei‘ Fjord].

    Next to the island of Ruegen, the ‘Hiddensee treasure‘ was found in 1873 on the German island of Hiddensee, i.e 16 pendants, a brooch, and a neck ring, all of gold weighing a total of 600 grams, featuring Norse pagan and Christian symbols. On Ruegen, there is the Slavic cult site of ‘Jaromarsburg’, and I really would like to know how much of their chalky cliffs is nibbled away in 1000 years, as you can almost watch it vanish.


  2. Could the thing in the middle of the torc picture be a set of three bells?

    I see there is an interesting looking mound in the background of the dig picture, I wonder if it is related or perhaps a convenient landmark to remember where the hoard was buried?

  3. Trevor, you can almost see the rather ‘brownish’ treasure spot on Openstreetmap (OSM) and Google (sheep too! 😀 ). When you go from Schaprode to Retelitz, the “mound” is to the right, i.e. on the other side of ‘Lange Straße’.

    On OSM, it is indeed marked as archaeological monument (presumably much older than the treasure from the other side of the road, so probably indeed a “landmark”).

  4. Yes, that “mound” is indeed referred to as Bronze Age burial mound, and a rather wide time range (1700 – 600 BC) is attributed to it – “Hünengrab, Lange Straße, Öhe, Schaprode, West-Rügen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, 18569, Germany”.

    Work on the “Danevirke” was reportedly started by ‘Godofridus rex Danorum’ in 808 AD, in fear of a Frankish invasion, but according to dendrochronology, the main structure had been built in three phases between AD 737 and 968. Thus, “Bluetooth” was apparently involved.

  5. Thanks for the explanation, Håkon! I looked on Google, but forgot to check OSM. I wonder if they have found any other archeology there, or just the hoard?

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