The traveler deposited the stash of gold, jewels, and silver coins near the Viking burial mounds in Haithabu some 800 years ago. Whoever that traveler was, and for whatever reason, he or she never returned to collect their treasure.
Just recently, this hoard of precious items has again seen the light of day after it was found by a volunteer metal detectorist in a farmer’s field southwest of Schleswig, Germany, a press release stated.
Buried in soil, the precious items were discovered by detectorist-in-training Nikki Andreas Steinmann. Among numerous valuable objects hidden were two exquisite, jewel-studded gold ear pendants.
Steinmann had been assigned to a quadrant of the plot to hone his detectorist skills. After finding several coins and two gold items, he and his instructor, Arjen Spießwinkel, notified excavation official Jan Fischer.
Fischer then took the lead in caring for the artifacts and continuing the excavation.
A 4-square-meter perimeter around the find was drawn, and with permission from the farmer, they commenced an excavation that uncovered a number of silver and gilded objects.
The researchers determined that the artifacts had been slightly displaced by agricultural activity, though several of the coins still lay stacked one atop the other as originally deposited, indicating they were buried together.
Additionally, remains of textiles were found preserved on several of the coins so it can be assumed they were at one time buried in a cloth bag, the press release stated.
The contents of the stash include said pair of “very high-quality” gold pendants set with stones; a gilded faux coin brooch, crafted to imitate an Islamic Almohad gold dinar coin; two gilded, stone-set rings and a ring fragment; a small, once-gilded perforated disc; a small ring brooch; as well as about 30 fragmented silver coins.
The most remarkable of all were the two golden ear pendants, which probably date back to sometime around or after 1100 A.D. They are crafted in the tradition of Byzantine goldsmiths.
Instrumental in dating the stash, inspection of some 30 silver coins indicate the reign of the Danish king Waldemar II (1202 – 1241). This suggests the hoard was deposited in the first half of the 13th century.
Haithabu is regarded today as an outstanding testament to the Viking Age and encompasses two large grave mounds and what are known as Danewerks—earthen fortifications dating back to the Vikings.
Haithabu was also a thriving Viking trade center from the 8th – 11th century before its destruction in 1066. The researchers believe the coins were deposited in the ashes of its heyday.
Now known as Haithabu-Danewerk Archaeological Frontier Complex, the site was inscribed on the UNESCO World World Heritage List in 2018 and remains protected today.
The aim of the investigations within this historic area is to recover remaining finds such as this one and document the circumstances surrounding their discovery which will serve as a basis for further research.
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