Bronze Age sword found under lawn in Finland

A Bronze Age sword broken in seven pieces has been discovered in the historic village of Panelia, southwestern Finland. Fewer than 200 bronze objects from the Bronze Age have been found in Finland, and out of those, only 25 of them are swords or daggers, so this is an extremely rare find.

The sword was found in late July by metal detectorist Matti Rintamaa who had bought his first metal detector just two weeks earlier. After scanning his own backyard, he moved on to the yard of his childhood home where his parents still live. First he found a few small pieces of metal a couple of inches long. Then he found a longer piece that had a noticeable texture on the surface.

He showed pictures of the piece to an experienced metal detecting friend and the friend said it looked like really old bronze, so Rintamaa called it in to Finland’s National Board of Antiquities. After viewing more pictures of the find, National Board of Antiquities experts confirmed that it was indeed old metal, 2,000 to 4,000 years old, no less.

An archaeologist was dispatched to the find site to investigate further. He found the sword’s hilt and a piece of the tip. All seven of the pieces recovered from Rintamaa’s parents’ yard were found at a shallow depth, the deepest just six inches under the lawn. Archaeologists believe this was not the original context of the sword. It was likely moved there in a load of topsoil during construction work years ago.

The current village of Panelia was founded in the Middle Ages, but before the Iron Age, a settlement thrived on what was then the shore of the Litorina Sea. When a marine transgression event caused sea levels to rise, what had been a coastal bay dried up and the settlement was abandoned.

The original context of the sword can only be guessed at, but possibly it was once sacrificed to the coastal waters of the ancient Gulf of Panelia. […]

During the Bronze Age, the area around the ancient Gulf of Panelia was densely populated, as evidenced by the area’s numerous burial mounds. Panelia also houses Finland’s largest known Bronze Age burial mound, Kuninkaanhauta (roughly translated as the Royal Tomb).

Bronze Age bronze sword found in Panelia, Finland. Photo by Sami Raninen, National Board of Antiquities.

5 thoughts on “Bronze Age sword found under lawn in Finland

  1. —–
    “Kuninkaanhauta” is a tumulus in the village of Panelia in Eura, dating back to c. 1500–1300 BC 36×30 meters wide and about four meters high, built on the shore of the ancient Bay of Panelia. Since the Bronze Age, the coastline has moved nearly 20 kilometers west due to the post-glacial rebound. It is located about 9 km northeast of Sammallahdenmäki whith more than 30 Bronze Age cairns.“Marine trans- and regressions” may be caused by tectonic events, severe climate change such as ice ages or isostatic adjustments following removal of ice or sediment load, silt etc.


    A look at e.g. the coastline in Belgium is a bit disturbing. In Knokke, Blankenberge and Oostende during the 2nd, 4th, 11th and –as far as Knokke is concerned– 12th century AD, folks would have had to swim. Bruges, however, had a coastal bay that dried up, but was nonetheless not abandoned. Where on the one hand things might be silting-up, there could be other parts nearby that are submerged, e.g. where the tide is constantly nibbling stuff away.

  2. The proper geographic/geologic term would be “marine regression” where the land rises and the sea regresses. All of Scandinavia has and is experiencing “isostatic rebound” which means it is rising after the melting and removing of the weight of the glacial ice about 12,000 years ago.

    Locally, bays and estuaries can accumulate enough sediment and silt to become unusable for shipping.

  3. Scandinavia was covered by an ice sheet. As the ice melted away, it’s weight was no longer pushing down on Earths crust there. The response was for the crust to slowly rebound and rise. Geologists call this isostatic rebound. It continues to this day wherever there was a Pleistocene ice sheet. This results in many feet of crustal rebound that in places out paces sea level rise.

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