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.