Rookie Danish treasure hunter unearths 22 pieces of pre-Viking gold

Rookie Danish treasure hunter unearths 22 pieces of 1,500-year-old pre-Viking gold while trying out his new metal detector for the first time in his friend’s field

  • Ole Ginnerup Schytz discovered pre-Viking gold medallions that had been hidden for 1,500 
  • He was using a new metal detector he’d bought for the first time and had been out for a few hours when the device began to beep 
  • A local museum is calling it ‘one of the largest, richest and most beautiful gold treasures in Danish history’ 
  • Schytz continued to dig until he uncovered a total of 22 gold objects, weight nearly 1kg 

A Danish treasure hunter unearthed one of the largest-ever hauls of pre-Viking gold while trying out a metal detector. 

Ole Ginnerup Schytz discovered pre-Viking gold medallions that had been hidden for 1,500 years on a hunt around a former schoolmate’s house in Vindelev near the Danish city of Jelling.

The local museum is calling it ‘one of the largest, richest and most beautiful gold treasures in Danish history.’ 

A Danish treasure hunter scored a huge haul on his first attempt using his new metal detector

Ole Ginnerup Schytz discovered pre-Viking gold medallions that had been hidden for 1,500 years

While the discovery was made around six months ago, it had been kept a secret until now. 

Schytz said that he discovered the treasure by ‘pure luck.’

He was using a new metal detector he’d bought for the first time and had been out for a few hours when the device began to beep.   

After moving a bit of soil, he felt a small piece of bent metal between his fingers. 

Schytz was using a new metal detector he’d bought for the first time and had been out for a few hours when the device began to beep

‘It was full of smashes and mud,’ he told Denmark’s TV2. ‘I had no idea about it, so the only thing I could think of was that it looked like the lid on a can of sour herring.’

Schytz continued to dig until he uncovered a total of 22 gold objects, weight nearly 1kg. 

‘Denmark is 43,000 square kilometers, and then I happen to choose to put the detector exactly where this find was,’ he added. 

An excavation has been done at the site by archaeologists from the Danish Vejlemuseerne, in collaboration with the National Museum’s experts and with funds from the Palaces and Culture Agency. 

After moving a bit of soil, he felt a small piece of bent metal between his fingers

Archaeologists found the treasure was buried in a longhouse in a village by one of the heads of the Danish clans about 1,500 years ago.  

Researchers suggest climate catastrophe back then caused the inhabitants of what was then Denmark to reject the old rulers and bury lots of gold during this very period to save it from enemies, or maybe to appease the gods. 

Inspectors say that the medallions clearly show how Norse mythology developed from Roman religion, culture and art.   

Schytz continued to dig until he uncovered a total of 22 gold objects, weight nearly 1kg 

These gold medallions — known as bracteates — were inspired by similar Roman jewelry with motifs of the Roman emperor Constantine, who was considered a god by his countrymen.  

They are beautifully decorated with early forms of writing and may have been worn by women for protection as people at the time believed gold came from the sun.

‘The Scandinavians have always been good at getting ideas from what they saw in foreign countries, and then turning it into something that suits them,’ said National Museum expert Peter Vang Petersen. 

These gold medallions — known as bracteates — were inspired by similar Roman jewelry with motifs of the Roman emperor Constantine

The museum says that many of the most important archaeological finds of recent decades have been unearthed by amateur detectorists. 

‘It is difficult to relate to the fact that it is almost as big as the [Golden Horns of Gallehus]. But I listen to the museum people,’ Schytz says, referencing the 2007 discovery of lost replicas of horns made of sheet gold dating back to the Iron Age. 

The collection is already on it’s way to the display cases. 

In less than six months, the treasure will be seen as part of the Vejlemuseerne’s large Viking exhibition, which opens on 3 February 2022. 

The Viking exhibition is made in collaboration with the nearby Moesgaard Museum, which also has an exhibition that reveals details of the Vikings’ travels to the east. 

In less than six months, the treasure will be seen as part of the Vejlemuseerne’s large Viking exhibition

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