A man was told to exercise. His metal detector uncovered 'find of the century'

A metal detectorist has made an unprecedented discovery in Norway, finding a hoard of gold dating back to the 5th century.

Hailed as Norway’s ‘largest gold find of the century’, the find was made by 51-year-old Erlend Bore on the southern island of Rennesøy.

Bore, who bought the metal detector after his doctor told him to get more exercise, unearthed nine gold pendants, three rings, and ten gold pearls.

‘I first looked around the shore, but only found scrap and a ten ring. Then I chose to go a little higher up in the terrain, and then the metal detector beeped immediately,’ said Mr Bore.  

‘At first I thought I had found chocolate money or Captain Sabertooth coins. It was completely unreal.’

To find so much gold at the same time is extremely unusual, according to Ole Madsen, director at the Archaeological Museum at the University of Stavanger. 

According to associate professor Håkon Reiersen at the Archaeological Museum, the gold pendants date from around 500 AD, during the migration period in Norway. 

The gold pendants might look like gold coins, but are actually decorations called ‘bracteaters’.

According to Professor Reiersen, the gold pendants were made by skilled jewellers and were probably worn by society’s most powerful.

‘In Norway, no similar discovery has been made since the 19th century, and it is also a very unusual discovery in a Scandinavian context,’ said Reiersen. 

Many of the large bracteate finds made in Scandinavia were hidden in the ground towards the middle of the 5th century, right at the end of the Migration Period. This was probably a time of crisis, with bad years, climate deterioration and plague.

The many abandoned farms in Rogaland from this time may indicate that the crisis hit particularly hard here, explained Reiersen.

Based on the location where the find was made, experts assume it was either hidden valuables or sacrifices to the gods during such a dramatic time.

According to Professor Sigmund Oehrl at the Archaeological Museum, approximately 1,000 golden bracteaters have so far been found in Scandinavia. 

But these gold pendants featured a horse motif that differed from previously discovered ones.

Usually, symbols on the pendants showed the god Odin healing the sick horse of his son Balder. In the Migration Period, this myth was seen as a symbol of renewal and resurrection, and it was supposed to give the wearer of the jewellery protection and good health, said Professor Oehrl.   

The horses on these gold pendants had their tongue hanging out with a slumped posture and twisted legs showing injury. 

Like the Christian symbol of the cross, which spread in the Roman Empire at exactly this time, the horse symbol represented illness and distress, but at the same time hope for healing and new life, explained Professor Oehrl.  

All objects from before the year 1537, and coins older than the year 1650, are considered state property and must be handed in. 

Although Mr Bore had to turn over the gold to the museum, he and the landowner will receive a reward for the find. However, The National Antiquities Authority is yet to decide the fee.

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