An amateur archaeologist who had just purchased a metal detector found a sixth-century treasure of 22 gold objects in Denmark. The treasure was excavated six months ago, but it was carefully kept secret.
The discovery happened near Jelling in southwestern Denmark. The site historians consider being the cradle of the kings of the Viking Age, dated between the eighth and twelfth centuries. At least two Viking kings lived in Jelling.
However, the gold treasure that was found is even older. It dates from the sixth century. “The treasure consists of several gold objects, including a medallion the size of a saucer. It contains many symbols, some of which are still unknown to us, which will allow us to increase our knowledge of the people of this period, which preceded the Viking Age”, said Mads Ravn, research director of the Vejle Museerne, where the gold treasure will be exhibited from February next year.
Certain objects show motifs and inscriptions in the runic alphabet, which may refer to rulers of the time, but are also reminiscent of Norse mythology. For example, an object depicts the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, who ruled in the fourth century.
“It is the symbolism depicted on the objects that makes them unique, even more than the number of objects discovered,” said Mads Ravn, research director of the Vejle Museerne, where the gold treasure will be housed. “Some symbols are still unknown to us, which will allow us to increase our knowledge of the people of this period that preceded the Viking Age.”
Early investigations suggest that the treasure may have been laid as a sacrifice to the gods by an eminent local figure during the chaotic period following a volcanic eruption in Iceland in 536, which affected the climate of northern Europe.