Archive for the ‘Treasures’ Category

Gold coin hoard in a cup found under kitchen floor

Monday, September 5th, 2022

A couple in North Yorkshire hit the kind of jackpot every history nerd has dreamed of: they discovered an early 18th century coin hoard buried under the floorboards of their kitchen. With more than 260 gold coins dating to between 1610 and 1727, it is one of the largest hoards of English 18th century coins ever found.

They found the hoard in July 2019 after pulling up the kitchen floors in their 18th century home. Six inches beneath the concrete underfloor, they spotted what they thought was an old electrical wire but turned out to be the mouth of a salt-glazed earthenware cup about the size of a soda can with a broken handle. Packed inside this smallish beaker were 264 gold coins.

The couple contacted the London auction firm Spink & Son and their experts authenticated the coin hoard. They also researched the home’s history and identified the likely hoarders: wealthy Hull merchant Joseph Fernley and his wife Sarah Maister. Joseph died in 1725, Sarah in 1745, so it seems Sarah buried the hoard after her husband’s death. Secure banks and paper money were available when she chose the floorboards over a safety deposit box — the Bank of England had been founded in 1694, the year Joseph and Sarah got married — but clearly they mistrusted financial institutions in favor of collecting and caching gold currency.

The Fernley-Maisters may have had some grounds for skepticism. The Bank of England was established in order to raise a loan of £1.2 million to the government of King William III so that he could build Britain into a global naval power capable of taking on the indisputably superior French fleet. France’s navy had defeated England in the Battle of Beachy Head in 1690 so soundly that it took control of the English Channel and caused a panic in Britain. The subscribers to the loan then became the Governors of the bank. For a family who built wealth by trading in goods imported from the Baltic, this probably looked like shenanigans were afoot.

The coins were well-circulated before they were collected and there is significant wear on most of them. They weren’t particularly rare either. It’s more like the collectors stashed their 50s and 100s regularly, including older ones they came across still in circulation. The rarest coin is a 1720 George I guinea which had two reverse sides (two tails, no head) because of a minting error. A 1675 Charles II guinea where the king’s name is misspelled CRAOLVS instead of CAROLVS is also notable. In face value alone, the coins are worth £100,000, but adding up their current individual market values that figure more than doubles to £250,000 ($290,000).

Unfortunately we will soon have a chance to know what price this unique hoard will go for because it is going under the hammer at Spink & Son on October 7th. Yes, the dream come true has turned into this history nerd’s nightmare. The hoard fell through yet another hole in the Treasure Act. By law, coins are declared treasure if there are two or more of them (check) and if they are at least 300 years old. The coroner’s inquest ruled that because the youngest coin was 292 years old when the hoard was unearthed in 2019, the entire hoard was less than 300 years old and therefore the property of the homeowners to dispose of as they wish. It’s heartbreaking, but every coin is being sold individually. No word on what’s happening to the earthenware cup they were stashed in.


Pre-conquest Roman gold coin hoard found in Norfolk

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

A unique hoard of Roman gold coins buried decades before the Roman conquest of Britain has been discovered in Norfolk. Eleven aurei from the reign of Augustus were found by metal detectorists in a field near Norwich in the Norfolk Broads (a network of lakes and rivers) over several years. The first aureus was discovered in August 2017.

The coins are of two types. Both have laureate busts of Augustus on the obverse. Eight of the coins depict Augustus’ grandsons and heirs Gaius and Lucius Caesar standing with their hands on their shields and spears. They are flanked by a lituus (a crooked augury instrument like a bishop’s crozier) and a simpulum (a libation vessel). The type of coin was struck between 2 B.C. and 4 A.D. The second type dates to 9 B.C. and on the reverse features Gaius Caesar on a horse galloping past the army standards. He holds a sword and shield in his left hand. Both coin types were struck at Augustus’ mint in Lugdunum, Gaul, modern-day Lyons.

Even though they had been churned up and scattered by ploughing over the centuries, the coins were certainly grouped together in a single hoard originally. Not only are they are all aurei of Augustus from the same narrow date range, but they all bear the same mark: a tiny nick that was deliberately done to ensure the coin was solid gold and not a plated forgery.

They are in such good condition that they cannot have been in circulation very long when they were hoarded, and the absence of any later coins in the group suggests they were buried shortly after they were minted, maybe the first decade of the 1st century, predating the Roman conquest of 43 A.D.

At that time, the Britannic Iceni tribe ruled over what is now Norfolk. The Iceni would become famous for the 60-61 A.D. uprising against Rome led by their queen Boudica, but relations between the Iceni and the Roman Empire were positive six decades earlier. The Iceni were allies before the invasion and given preferred status after the conquest, so it’s eminently possible they had access to gold coins even when the general trend during this period was for Roman gold coins to be spent on luxury goods from the east, not for them to wander up north to the hinterlands.

Augustus vastly expanded the number of aurei struck. His uncle Julius Caesar had struck the first large-scale gold coinage in Rome as part of his Triumph celebrating his conquest of Gaul. Augustus systematized Roman coinage,  establishing consistently graduated denominations and striking large issues that were distributed throughout the empire.

Norfolk, however, was very much not the Roman Empire, and amassing 10 aurei in the first decade of the first century was no easy feat for anyone, let alone for the northern tribespeople. Iceni gold coins of this period were made of a much lower grade of gold, but Iceni jewelry like the Great Snettisham Torc used gold of high purity. A goldsmith looking for raw materials to make something like the torc would be ecstatic to get his hands on Roman aurei made of 20-carat gold. If the gold was being collected for reuse, that would also explain the consistent nick marks as the smith testing them for purity before melting them down to make something new with the gold.

The hoard has been acquired by the British Museum. The report of the find has been published in The Searcher and can be read here (pdf).


Viking gold ring found in estate auction box lot

Friday, July 8th, 2022

Mari Ingelin of Alver, Norway, hit the history buff’s jackpot when she found a gold ring from the Viking era in a box lot of cheap jewelry she’d bought at an online auction. The auction was an estate sale with lots of mixed objects packed into banana boxes. Ingelin bought the banana box containing some mall jewelry and trinkets. She was initially only interested in one of the items, but had to buy the whole box to get it. When sifting through her haul, the bright shine of yellow gold caught her eye.

The ring stood out from the other pieces. It was heavy and was more roughly made than the modern pieces. She consulted with her father-in-law and he suggested it might be really old, like Viking old. That’s when she contacted the Vestland County officials and alerted them to the find. County archaeologist Sigrun Wølstad examined the ring and confirmed that it was indeed a Viking artifact.

It has a twisted band with a thick, smooth strand entwined with a thin granulated one. It weighs 10.98 grams and is so wide in diameter it was almost certainly a man’s ring.

Unn Pedersen is an associate professor of archaeology at the University of Oslo. She studies artefacts from the Viking Age, and one of her fields of research is so-called non-ferrous metalworking – meaning for instance copper, silver, and gold.

“This is a really exciting find,” Pedersen says to on the phone from her summer cabin. “It is extremely rare to find such a gold ring from the Scandinavian Viking Age,” she says.

Pedersen confirms that the ring is a typical Viking Age ring.

“We have some very close parallels to it. There are some in silver, and some in gold that have this exact same shape,” she says.

Based on the photo, Pedersen also thinks the ring looks a little worn. It looks as though it has been used a lot. And it was most likely worn by a powerful Viking chief.

“Gold was rare during the Viking Age, there wasn’t a big supply of it anymore. So this would have been reserved for the richest and most powerful people in society,” she says.

There is no information about where the ring may have come from given its discovery in a sale bin. This type of ring has been found before in other parts of Scandinavia, usually in funerary contexts, as well as in Norway, but they are rare and there is very little known about their origins. The only way to find out more about this one is to take a sample of the gold and do metallurgic analysis, but of course that would damage the ring and these days conservators are reluctant to engage in invasive practices unless strictly necessary.

All archaeological objects in Norway predating 1537 are automatically granted protected status. Normally, the National Heritage Board allocates such finds to a local museum near where they were discovered, but since the find site is unknown, the Viking ring has been allocated to the University Museum of Bergen where it will go on display later this year.


Como Treasure: 1,000 gold coins in a cooking pot

Saturday, May 21st, 2022

The hoard of gold coins from the last days of the Western Roman Empire that was discovered under an old theater in Como in 2018 has proven even more exceptional than it seemed at first glance. And that’s saying a lot, because from the lidded soapstone pot to the tidy stacks of mint-condition 5th century gold coins inside of it, this find was immediately recognized as one of unprecedented historical significance. 

When the news of the spectacular find was announced in September of 2018, archaeologists had recovered the vessel and begun the process of excavating it in laboratory conditions. They had removed 27 coins from the reigns of the Emperors Honorius (r. 384–423), Valentinian III (r. 425-455), Leo I the Thracian (r. 457-474) and his short-lived co-emperor Libius Severus (r. 461-465) and estimated there were about 300 in the whole hoard. They had come across one gold ingot and two objects of undetermined identity and expected to find more in the densely packed amphora.

Well, the painstaking process of removing one coin at a time from its tight, tidy stacks is now complete, and the final tally of gold coins is 1,000. Exactly 1,000. Someone had to have counted this out for professional purposes, like an accountant, government administrator or imperial goldsmith. The vast majority of the coins — 639 of them — were struck by mint in Mediolanum (modern-day Milan) which was then the capital of the Western Empire. They were minted between 395 and 472 A.D. and bear representations of eight emperors and four empresses. The fall of the Western Roman Empire is traditionally dated to the deposition of Emperor Romulus Augustulus in 476 A.D., and 744 of the coins were minted after 455, so literally the last two decades of the empire.

In addition to the coins, the treasure contains the raw materials for and products of the highest quality goldsmith work. There are three large gold rings, believed to be men’s rings, one octagonal, one set with a huge cabochon garnet of superb quality, and one with an unusually intricate combination of basket weave and filigree techniques. There also are three earrings (one pair and an unfinished singleton). The production side of the business is attested to by an ingot, a gold bar, and thin gold threads. The ingot is alloyed with silver to make it more durable for jewelry and it has been cut and broken from bits of being used to make precious objects.

All told, there are 11 pounds of gold in this hoard, an almost inconceivable amount of portable wealth at a time when the imperial economic systems were moribund. The amphora it was crammed into, on the other hand, was a modest object of everyday use. It’s a jug not dissimilar to a beer stein that was locally produced of green soapstone. It has char marks indicating it was used in cooking. Pliny referred to cooking vessels being made of soapstone in the Como area (Natural History, XXXVIL 44), and they are still manufactured there today.

This video shows the jug and goldsmith materials, including a fantastic close-up of the garnet.

This video focuses on the jug, but around the 3:40 mark you can see the coins being removed one at a time with tweezers during the conservation process.


Unique figurine wears ancient British hoodie

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

A unique Roman-era copper alloy figurine of a man wearing the birrus Britannicus, the characteristic heavy wool caped hood worn of native Britons, that almost fell through the cracks in the Treasure Act was saved from exile and is now one of the gems of the collection of the Chelmsford City Museum.

The figurine was discovered near Chelmsford in 2015 by a metal detectorist. It is just two-and-a-half inches high and weighs 66 grams (2.3 oz). The arms below the elbows and legs below the knees broke off in antiquity, but the figure’s posture is still evident. The right arm is held out horizontally with the elbow bent so that the missing forearm pointed down. The left arm is bent upwards at the elbow. The left leg is straight; the right bent at the knee suggesting the contrapposto position.

It’s his fashion that makes him unique. He wears a tunic with a pleated skirt belted at the waist. His birrus Britannicus crosses his shoulders at the front and then drapes all the way down his back to his knees. The back of the cloak is incised with a double V from the top of the shoulders to the bottom, perhaps meant to represent a quiver. Small v-shapes in a horizontal orientation decorate the left and right edges of the cloak and the deep triangle of the V. The hood is up, coming to point over the center of forehead that then crests down to the nape of the neck.

Copper figurines from the Roman period are not in and of themselves exceptionally rare, but they usually depict deities and the ones that do feature people in hooded cloaks are not wearing the birrus, but rather the Gallic style cloak. There are no known parallels of the Chelmsford birrus Britannicus figurine on the archaeological record, even though we know from the Edict of Diocletian that they were exported throughout the empire. Diocletian’s Edict on Maximum Prices (301 A.D.) fixed the price of the British hooded cloak at 6,000 denarii, 2,000 more than the highest quality of military mantle and 4,000 more than the best Phrygian hooded cloak.

An almost identical hooded figure, with contrapposto legs and raised arms, the right hand pointed down, the left up, is depicted in a 4th A.D. mosaic in the dining room at Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire, southwest England. The floor mosaic features personifications of the four seasons, one in each corner. Winter is wearing a birrus Britannicus over a tunic and trousers. In his right hand he holds a hare from the hunt; in his left hand is a branch denuded of leaves, a symbol of the season. It is the only known Roman-era mosaic depicting of a native Briton.

The figurine was not declared treasure because it’s not made of precious metals, even though it is a one-of-a-kind depiction and was deemed of national importance by the Portable Antiquities Scheme. It was sold for a comparative pittance of £550 ($730), and thankfully when the UK Ministry of Culture deferred an export license to give a local museum a chance to keep this most British of Roman figurines in Britain, the Chelmsford City Museum was able to acquire it.


Galloway Hoard rock crystal and gold jar bears bishop’s name

Friday, December 17th, 2021

An extraordinary carved rock crystal jar from the Galloway Hoard has been cleaned and conserved by experts at the National Museums Scotland (NMS), revealing it to be a Roman crystal jar wrapped in elaborate layers of gold thread from the late 8th or early 9th century. The base is inscribed with the name of an Anglo-Saxon bishop, strong evidence that some of the treasures in the hoard were taken from a church in the early medieval Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria.

The richest Viking assemblage of high-status objects ever found in Britain or Ireland, the Galloway Hoard was discovered by a metal detectorist in a field near Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland in September 2014. After a major fundraising campaign, National Museums Scotland was able to acquire the hoard for an ex gratia payment of £1.98 million ($2,550,000) in 2017. Years of complex examination, conservation and cleaning ensued, revealing an astonishing wealth of rare objects including a silver pectoral cross with niello enamel decoration that is unique on the archaeological record, a gold bird-shaped pin, also unique, and a silver-gilt pot of a type known to have been produced in the Carolingian Empire which is one of only three known from Britain and the only one of them found complete with its original lid.

The pot was wrapped in woven textiles. To preserve them and excavate the interior as cautiously as possible, conservators had the pot CT scanned, revealing the treasures packed inside, including a 9th century Anglo-Saxon brooch, an Irish penannular brooch, a gold reliquary pendant and a hinged silver strap. Each object was wrapped in a precious textile like silk samite or fine leather.

While much of the Galloway Hoard outside of the pot has toured Scotland and is currently on display at  Kirkcudbright Galleries in the hoard’s home region of  Dumfries and Galloway, the vessel and its contents are undergoing a three-year project of meticulous conservation and research.

The project has already born extraordinary results. A 3D model created from X-ray imaging that captured the surface of the pot obscured beneath the fabric wrapping revealed it is not of Carolingian origin at all. The iconography of leopards, tigers and Zoroastrian symbols is typical of Sasanian Empire (224-651 A.D.) art, which means this vessel came from Persia, not continental Europe. Radiocarbon dating of textile samples from the three layers wrapped around the vessel found it was produced between 680 and 780 A.D., so it was 100-200 years old by the time the hoard was buried.

One of the objects inside the vessel was the rock crystal jar. When it was first removed, it was bundled in a textile wrapping that proved to be a silk-lined leather pouch. 3D X-ray imagining saw through the wrapping to the object within and revealed the Latin inscription on the base which read: “Bishop Hyguald had me made.”

Conservators painstakingly removed the pouch and cleaned the rock crystal. They found from the surface of the jar that it started out as the capital of Corinthian column made of rock crystal in the late Roman Empire. At some point over the next 500 years, the capital of the crystal column was converted into a jar and wrapped in gold thread.

There is the possibility that this jar still bears trace elements of the potion it once held and that its precise chemicals can be revealed.

[Dr. Martin Goldberg, NMS’s principal curator of early medieval and Viking collections] said: “The type of liquid that we would expect would be something very exotic, perhaps a perfume from the Orient, something’s that’s travelled in the same way that the silk has. There were certain types of exotic oil that were used in anointing kings and ecclesiastical ceremonies.”

Below are the 3D models of the rock crystal jar before and after conservation.


Largest hoard of Roman silver found in Augsburg

Thursday, November 11th, 2021

City archaeologists in Augsburg have unearthed the largest Roman silver hoard ever discovered in Bavaria. The hoard of approximately 5,600 silver denarii from the 1st and 2nd centuries was found in the Oberhausen district, the oldest part of the city, at the site of a planned residential development.

The coins in the hoard range in date from the reign of Nero in the mid-1st century to that of Septimius Severus shortly after 200 A.D. Emperors Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius are represented, as is a far less prominent emperor, Didius Julianus, who reigned for all of three months (March-June 193) after buying the purple when it was auctioned off by the Praetorian Guard. His coinage is much rarer, therefore, as his window to mint money was so short.

Augsburg was founded under Augustus between 8 and 5 B.C. as the Roman military camp on the banks of the Wertach river near its confluence with the Lech river. It was the earliest Roman fort established in the Alpine foothills, freshly conquered in 15 B.C. by Augustus’ stepson Tiberius. By around 10 A.D., the temporary camp had been transformed into a fort capable of housing 3,000 soldiers. A civilian settlement outside the camp quickly grew into the town of Augusta Vindelicorum which became the capital of the new Imperial province of Raetia in the reign of Tiberius. While there were no legions quartered there after 70 A.D., the city continued to grow and prosper

At the end of the 3rd century, the Emperor Diocletian reformed imperial administration and the province was governed by a dux, the top military authority in the region. Lesser government officials still administered the day-to-day civil affairs of the province from Augusta Vindelicorum.

The silver coins were discovered not far from the site of the earliest Roman base in Bavaria, also in the gravel of an old Wertach river bed. The area of ​​a future residential area had been archaeologically examined there. A container could no longer be identified. “We assume that the treasure was buried outside the city of Augusta Vindelicum near the Via Claudia running there in the early 3rd century and was never recovered. The hiding place was probably washed away many centuries later by floods in Wertach and the coins were thus scattered in the river gravel,” explains Sebastian Gairhos, head of Augsburg’s city archeology. “A simple soldier earned between 375 and 500 denarii in the early 3rd century. The treasure therefore has the equivalent of around 11 to 15 annual salaries.”

In addition to the coin hoard, archaeologists have discovered hundreds of Roman artifacts in the gravel from the former river bed (the Wertach’s path was straightened in 1900). They found weapons, tools, jewelry, dishes, vessels and much more sifting through 1000 cubic meters of river gravel, all of them believed to have come from the 1st century B.C. military base.

The recovered objects, many of which are heavily corroded and thick with concretions from centuries spent on a riverbed, will be analyzed and conserved. The city hopes to find a permanent home for them in a new museum dedicated to Augsburg’s Roman history, but that’s a bit of a pipe dream at the moment since there are no plans for its construction. Meanwhile, a selection of the coins from the hoard and other artifacts found in the excavation will go briefly on display at the Armory House of Augsburg from December 17, 2021 to January 9, 2022.


French manor reno coins sell for $1.2 million

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

The stash of 17th century gold coins found during the renovation of a mansion in Plozévet, Brittany, has sold at auction for a collective €1 million ($1.2 million), far exceeding the pre-sale estimate of  €250,000-300,000 ($296,000-$355,000).

The coins were discovered by stonemasons in 2019. They were in two separate stashes, one set in a metal box in one wall, the other in a bag in another wall. The grand total was 239 coins, all gold, 23 of them minted under Louis XIII, 216 during the reign of Louis XIV. Property owners Véronique and François Mion kept four as souvenirs and put the rest up for auction. There were so many interested buyers at the September 23rd auction and bidding was so intense that it took five hours to get through all the coins.

Bidding opened at 8,000 euros for a very rare double Louis d’Or [with a long lock] , depicting Louis XIV and dating back to 1646. It went for 46,000 euros, the same price as a Louis d’Or from Paris dated 1640 and stamped with the Templar’s Cross.

“Bids were flying from everywhere – in the room, on internet and on the telephone,” said auctioneer Florian D’Oysonville.

France passed a treasure law in 2016 that claims all archaeological materials found as property of the state, but it was not retroactive. Because the owners bought the property in 2012, they were able to sell the coins at auction and split the proceeds of the sale 50/50 with the stonemasons who actually found the treasure.

Museums do get one other bite at the apple, however. French institutions have the right of preemption, meaning they can claim any lot offered at auction for the final price after the hammer falls. The Monnaie de Paris, France’s national mint which has been in continuous operation since 864 A.D., made liberal use of their statutory rights in the sale of the Plozevet Treasure. They preempted 19 of the 235 coins sold. I’d bet a Louis d’Or that the long lock and templar coins were among them. (Spoiler: I do not have a Louis d’Or.)


Roman gold coins found off coast of Spain

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

A group of 53 Roman gold coins have been discovered on the seabed off the coast of Xàbia in Alicante, southeastern Spain. They are gold solidi ranging in date from the late 4th to the early 5th century, and are in such excellent condition that all the coins but one could be identified. There are three solidi from the reign of Emperor Valentinian I, seven from  Valentinian II, 15 from Theodosius I, 17 from Arcadius and 10 from Honorius.

The coins were discovered on the sea bottom next to Portitxol island, a popular destination for sport divers because of the rich marine life that inhabits its seaweed meadows of its rocky bed. Even so, it managed to hide dozens of Roman gold coins for 1,500 years until freedivers Luis Lens and César Gimeno spotted eight flashes of light on the seafloor. At first they thought they were modern ten cent pieces, or maybe mother-of-pearl shells gleaming in the water. They picked up two of them.

When they returned to the boat, they saw that they were ancient gold coins bearing identical profiles of a Roman emperor. They immediately alerted city officials to their discovery and led marine archaeologists to the find site. Over several dives, the team of archaeologists recovered the 53 gold coins, three copper nails and fragments of lead that may have been fittings on a chest.

This is one of the largest sets of Roman gold coins found in Spain and Europe, as stated by  Professor in Ancient History Jaime Molina and University of Alicante team leader of the underwater archaeologists working on the wreck. He also reported that this is an exceptional archaeological and historical find, since it can offer a multitude of new information to understand the final phase of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The historians point to the possibility that the coins may have been intentionally hidden, in a context of looting such as those perpetrated by the Alans in the area at that time.

Therefore, the find would serve to illustrate a historical moment of extreme insecurity with the violent arrival of the barbarian peoples (Suevi, Vandals and Alans) in Hispania and the final end of the Roman Empire in the Iberian Peninsula from 409 A.D.

The coins are now being conserved and studied before going on display at the Soler Blasco Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum in Xàbia, conditioned on the acquisition of an armored glass case equipped with sensors to secure the valuable (and easily meltable) artifacts. Funding has already been secured to return to the find site for a more thorough excavation.


A kilo of 6th century gold found in Jelling

Sunday, September 5th, 2021

A hoard of gold objects from the 6th century has been discovered in a farmed field outside the town of Jelling, South Jutland, Denmark. The 22 objects have a total combined weight of 945 grams, so just under a kilo.

They were discovered in December by metal detectorist Ole Schytz who was new at the hobby and hadn’t even been out with his machine 10 times when he stumbled on one of the largest and most significant gold hoards ever found in Denmark. He alerted authorities and archaeologists from the Vejle Museums excavated the find site, keeping the massive find secret until now to deter looters.

The hoard contains two Roman gold coins that have been converted into pendants — including a gold solidus of Constantine the Great (285-337 AD) — and one piece of jewelry with gold granulation in an elaborate pattern, but most of the pieces in the hoard are bracteates. Bracteates were round medallions worn as pendants that were made in Northern Europe during the Migration Period. Typically bracteates are penny-sized with rudimentary engravings of figures from Nordic mythology. These are unusually large, the size of small saucers, and the quality of decoration is exceptionally high. They are also unusually varied. Often bracteates found in hoards are very similar in design, but every one of these is different, and there are runs and motifs never seen before on other bracteates.

The excavation revealed that the hoard was buried under the floor of a longhouse, and only a very powerful, very wealthy individual could have collected a treasure this vast. Archaeologists know there was a small town here during the Migration Period, but there was no previous indication that it was sufficiently important to attract a resident who was so massively wealthy and powerful that he could acquire so much gold and attract  artisans of such high caliber.

Many of the large gold hoards discovered in Scandinavia from this period are believed to have been buried as desperate offerings to appease the gods after a volcanic eruption in 535/536 A.D. generated an ash cloud that blocked the sun and caused widespread crop failure and famine. If it was not an offering, the hoard may have been buried to protect it from being stolen during this turbulent time.

One of the bracteates features the profile of a male head with a braid of hair. A bird is in front of him — they appear to be conversing — and under him is a horse. Between the horse’s head and front legs is a runic inscription that a preliminary translation interprets as “houaʀ” meaning “the High.” This may be a reference to the leader who buried the hoard, or the god Odin.

The gold objects are currently being conserved. The folded and bent pieces will be straightened out as much as prudence allows. In February, they will go on display at the Vejle Art Museum.





September 2022


Add to Technorati Favorites