Category Archives: SWEDEN

Two unique mid-14th-century shipwrecks were discovered in Sweden

Two unique mid-14th-century shipwrecks were discovered in Sweden

During an archaeological dig in western Sweden this summer, the remains of two medieval merchant vessels known as cogs were discovered. Analyses show that the ships were built outside of Scandinavia in the mid-14th century.

Two unique mid-14th-century shipwrecks were discovered in Sweden

The cogs were discovered by a team from Arkeologerna, which is part of the National Historical Museums of Sweden, during the construction of a railway tunnel in the town of Varberg.

Named Varbergskoggen 1 and Varbergskoggen 2, the first consists of the nearly complete port side that is about 20.5 meters long and 5 meters wide. The remains of the second ship are the forward end of the bottom of the hull, roughly 8 meters in length and 4.5 meters in width.

Elisabet Schager, archaeologist and project leader of the excavation say: “These wrecks are a very special discovery, both in Sweden and abroad, so it has been fantastic to find them. Before these two wrecks were discovered, only 7 other cogs were known in Sweden, and only around 30 are known in the whole of Europe.”

The first dendrochronological (tree-ring dating) samples show that Varbergskoggen 1 was constructed with lumber felled after 1346 in what is now the Netherlands, Belgium, and north-eastern France, while the smaller Varbergskoggen 2 was constructed with oak felled between 1355 and 1357 in northern Poland.

These results suggest that both vessels were in foreign waters, a long way from home, when they ultimately disappeared beneath the waves.

The remains of Varbergskoggen 2 from above.

Cogs were medieval single-masted transport vessels that are often associated with the Hanseatic League but were also used across the whole of Northern Europe. Often seen as the successor the Viking Age Knarr, cogs were designed to maximize cargo space.

Several construction details were noted during the excavation of the wrecks, all of which are characteristics identifiable with traditional cog construction. For example, the bottom strakes of the vessels were built in the carvel style, while the sides are built in the more traditional clinker style. Furthermore, the caulking between the strakes was made with moss and secured with lathes. Also, the decks were supported with bulky crossbeams which stuck out the sides of the hull.

Archaeologists have also discovered a variety of fascinating artifacts in the wrecks, such as leather shoes and wood and ceramic housewares.

A rare cache of ship equipment and reserve parts were discovered aboard Varbergskoggen 1 (Varberg Cog 1, the larger of the two), protected from wreck plunderers by a pile of ballast stones.

Small figurine was found in one of the cogs.

According to Schager the finds gives a detailed account of life at sea.

“We have a lovely assortment of personal objects that represent parts of the crew’s daily routines, like wooden bowls and spoons. A number of barrel lids, some of which have what appears to be maker’s marks carved in them, were also unearthed among the wreckage. We have collected and are analyzing soil samples as well, which will hopefully be able to identify the remnants of food and/or cargo. We will even search for parasitic remains, which could identify if animals were kept onboard, and if so, which species. We hope to be able to piece together where the cogs’ fateful journey originated, and where they were headed.”

The cause of the sinking of the cogs is still not clear.

“Once we have cleaned every timber from the wrecks, and critically analyzed them, we will hopefully be able to get to the bottom of the mystery.

The information we could gather from the initial excavation is that the larger Varbergskoggen 1 had rolled onto its port side in shallow waters while it was still rigged”, says Schager.

Archeologists discover 2000-year-old Roman coins on the deserted Swedish island of Gotska Sandön

Archeologists discover 2000-year-old Roman coins on the deserted Swedish island of Gotska Sandön

Archeologists discover 2000-year-old Roman coins on the deserted Swedish island of Gotska Sandön

Archaeologists found 2,000-year-old Roman coins on the Swedish deserted island of Gotska Sandön.

Previously, ancient Roman coins were discovered on the Swedish island of Gotland. Finding similar ancient items on the deserted island of Gotska Sandön, on the other hand, is unusual. Because of its location, it is a unique discovery.

The coins stem from the time of Emperor Trajan, who ruled the Roman Empire in the years 98-117, and Antoninus Pius, who ruled between 138 and 161.

The discovery was made by a team of experts from Södertörn University and the Gotland Museum.

Archaeologists, to this day, have not been able to identify the historical role of the island within the Baltic region’s different historical eras. The island has been inhabited since the Stone Ages, as seal bones, slaughter remains from cows, and a battle glove was previously excavated.

A silver denarius showing the face of Roman emperor Trajan.

In a statement, Johan Rönnby, professor of marine archeology at Soderon University, which runs the excavations in collaboration with the Gotland Museum, stated that “These are exciting finds that raise several questions.”

Archaeologists are now debating whether the discoveries are shipwreck remains strewn across the beach. A large number of hearths and fireplace remains have been discovered along the island’s coast. Another theory is that the coins are somehow related to these activities.

A local lighthouse keeper claimed to have discovered a Roman coin on the island in the late 1800s, which was met with skepticism. The recent discoveries may vindicate him.

“Finds of Roman silver coins are not unusual for Gotland, but are for Gotska Sandon. What makes this find interesting is precisely the location,” Daniel Langhammer of the Administrative Board in Gotland County said.

Gotska Sandon islands.

Gotland, Sweden’s largest island and a key point in the Baltic Sea maritime trade, is rich in medieval treasures.

The number of Arab dirhams discovered on the island, in particular, is astounding, dwarfing any other site in Western Eurasia. These coins made their way north along the Silver-Fur Road through trade between Rus merchants and the Abbasid Caliphate.

The 9-km long and 6-km wide Gotska Sandon island is part of Gotland County and has been a national park since 1909.

See a stunning, life-like reconstruction of a Stone Age woman

See a stunning, life-like reconstruction of a Stone Age woman

Oscar Nilsson, a forensic artist based in Sweden, spent 350 hours reconstructing the Stone Age woman’s likeness.

A Stone Age woman who lived 4,000 years ago is leaning on her walking stick and looking ahead as a spirited young boy bursts into a run, in a stunning life-size reconstruction now on display in Sweden.

Although her likeness is new — it debuted last month in an exhibit about ancient people at Västernorrlands Museum — researchers have known about this woman’s existence for nearly a century.

During the construction of a road in the hamlet of Lagmansören in 1923, workers found her skeletal remains buried next to the remains of a child, likely a 7-year-old boy.

“With our eyes and perhaps in all times, you tend to think that this is a mother and son,” said Oscar Nilsson, the Sweden-based forensic artist who spent 350 hours creating the lifelike model.

“They could be. Or they could be siblings: sister and brother. They could be relatives, or they could just be tribe friends. We don’t know, because the DNA was not that well preserved to establish this relationship.”

But as Nilsson molded the woman’s posture and sculpted her face, he pretended that she was near her son who was scampering ahead of her. “She’s looking with the mother’s eyes — both with love and a bit of discipline,” Nilsson told Live Science. This stern but tender gaze looks as if she’s on the cusp of calling out to the boy, telling him to be careful.

This reconstruction is based on the remains of a Neolithic woman who lived about 4,000 years ago in what is now Sweden.

The Neolithic woman and youngster were interred in a cist grave, a burial built with long, flat stones in the shape of a coffin. The woman died in her late 20s or early 30s, and at 4 feet, 11 inches (150 centimeters) in height, “she was not a very tall person,” even for the Neolithic period, Nilsson said.

The woman’s remains didn’t show any signs of malnutrition, injury or diseases, although it’s possible that she died of an illness that didn’t leave a mark on her remains, Nilsson said.

“She seems to have had a good life,” he said. She ate land-based food, an examination of the isotopes (different versions of elements) in her teeth revealed, which was odd given that her grave was found near a fish-filled river near the coast, he said.

When Nilsson received the commission to reconstruct the woman two years ago, he scanned her skull and made a copy of it with a plastic 3D printer. As with other reconstructions he’s created, including those of an ancient Wari queen from what is now Peru and a Stone Age man whose head was found on a spike, Nilsson had to take into account the ancient individual’s sex, age, weight and ethnicity — factors that can influence the person’s facial tissue thickness and general appearance. But because the woman’s DNA was too degraded, he wasn’t sure about her genetic background, hair or eye color.

So Nilsson took an educated guess about her appearance. There were three large migration waves into ancient Scandinavia: During the first, hunter-gatherers with dark skin who tended to have blue eyes arrived between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago; the second wave included pale-skinned, dark-haired and brown-eyed farmers from further south who moved north about 5,000 to 4,000 years ago, when this woman was alive; and the third wave included the Yamnaya (also spelled Yamna) culture from modern-day Ukraine, who were a bit darker-skinned than the farmers and brought the art of metal making with them when they arrived about 3,500 years ago, making them the first Bronze Age culture in the region, Nilsson said.

Based on this information, Nilsson gave the woman brown hair and eyes, and light skin like the farmers’. Even so, the woman wasn’t necessarily a full-time farmer; she likely participated in a mix of hunting and gathering as well as agricultural practices, he said.

“We can’t say for sure whether she was living a nomadic life, if she was living the life of the early farmers; it’s impossible to say,” Nilsson said.

“But we have chosen to make the safest interpretation, which is she was both because, of course, there was a transition period of many hundreds of years when they left the old way of living.”

The Neolithic’s woman’s reconstructed clothes were made from moose and elk, boots from reindeer and beaver, and backpack from fox.
Archaeologists didn’t find any artifacts buried with the woman, but modern artists gave her reconstruction a bird claw necklace.
The skull of the Neolithic woman. It was scanned and 3D printed for the reconstruction project.
The Neolithic woman’s clothing was inspired by those from Indigenous Americans, Indigenous Siberians and Ötzi the Iceman mummy.

Fancy furs, Stone Age style

In the reconstruction, the woman from Lagmansören is dressed head to toe in fur and leather. This is the work of Helena Gjaerum, a Sweden-based independent archaeologist who uses Stone Age techniques for tanning leather. 

Before dressing the model, Gjaerum studied the ancient climate, landscape, vegetation, and animal life of Neolithic Lagmansören. Based on what she uncovered, she designed the woman’s clothes out of moose and elk, the shoes out of reindeer, beaver, and the backpack out of fox.

The woman likely stuffed hay inside the shoes for padding, noted Gjaerum, who took inspiration from clothing worn by Indigenous Americans and Indigenous Siberians, as well as the leather clothing of Özti the Iceman mummy, who lived about 5,300 years ago in the Italian Alps.

Preparing the clothes entailed hours of labor. Gjaerum, who acquired real animal remains, scraped the flesh off the skins and then put them in a river — a method that helps loosen the fur from the skin.

Next, she scraped off the fur and slathered on a solution made of moose brain, a fatty mixture that bonds with skin fibers. Without this mixture, the skin would stiffen and could easily rot if it got wet, she said.

The next several steps involved massaging, stretching and smoking the skins and then finally designing the clothing. Gjaerum’s young son, who was about the same height as the Stone Age woman, served as a helpful model, Gjaerum said.

She made the clothing as comfortable and practical as possible — for instance, by not putting a seam at the top of the shoulder, where water might seep in during rainy weather.

Often, modern people think of Stone Age humans as primitive, dressed in ugly, toga-like furs as in “The Far Side” comics. But Gjaerum challenged that perception. “I think it would be crazy to think she’d have primitive clothes,” Gjaerum told Live Science. “I wanted to make her dress like you could dress today” because you are both Homo sapiens.

Mysterious shipwreck found near Sweden full of household items dates back to 14th century

Mysterious shipwreck found near Sweden full of household items dates back to 14th century

New details have emerged surrounding the mysterious wreckage of two medieval ships found off the coast of Sweden last spring. Researchers have finally determined their age and distant origins.

Mysterious shipwreck found near Sweden full of household items dates back to 14th century
One of the mysterious medieval ships found in Sweden.

The merchant ships were spotted near the construction of a railway tunnel in Varberg, about 120 miles north of Copenhagen, according to a Nov. 16 press release from Arkeologirna, an archaeological consultancy.

According to archaeologists, the ships were known as cogs, a common medieval ship type.

According to the Estonian Mere Museum website, cogs were “large, with a spacious hold, and most often fitted with a mast and a large square sail”.

The remains of the ships were found about 30 feet apart in what archaeologists say is a highly unusual occurrence. One of the wrecks consists of a nearly intact port side, making it the best preserved cog wreck ever found in Sweden.

Months after archaeologists first discovered it, wood samples from the wreck were finally analyzed and the results answered unanswered questions.

The larger ship, known as Varbergskoggen 1, was built with timber dating back to 1346, archaeologists said. The wood was sourced hundreds of kilometers away in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

The smaller ship, known as Varbergskoggen 2, was built between 1355 and 1357 using trees from northern Poland, meaning that while the ships share a final resting place, they were sourced from different countries.

The researchers are not yet sure why or how the pair of ships sank.

According to the Maritime Injury Center, bad weather, collisions, flooding and the shifting of improperly stored cargo are some of the top reasons for ships sinking.

Soil samples could eventually reveal the types of food and other cargo stowed on board, archaeologists said, which could provide further answers about the ships’ final voyages.

A variety of household items found in the wreck, including leather shoes, wooden spoons and engraved barrels, could also help researchers further unravel the mystery of the sunken ships.

At least several other ancient shipwrecks have been discovered off the coast of Sweden in recent years.

A 500-year-old ship full of soldiers and Danish nobles was found off the coast of southern Sweden in 2021, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

And in October, archaeologists announced that another Swedish shipwreck had been rediscovered by divers, according to previous McClatchy News reports. Wood samples led researchers to conclude the wreck was the Äpplet, a 17th-century warship commissioned by a Swedish king.

Google Translate was used to translate Arkeologirna’s press release.

Warship wreck – sunk by the Navy over 300 years ago – rediscovered in Sweden

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This rare battle sword just found in Sweden is ‘an evolutionary leap’

This rare battle sword just found in Sweden is ‘an evolutionary leap’

A basement at the intersection of Kungsgatan and Västerlånggatan in Gamla stan turned out to harbor a secret. A weapon lay in the racial masses from the warlike events in the summer of 1611.

Stenkällaren on the corner of Kungsgatan and Västerlånggatan in Gamla stan. Photo to the east.

During the past week, we have investigated a stone cellar at the intersection of Kungsgatan and Västerlånggatan in the old town of Kalmar.

The basement was relatively damaged by the previous wiring, but we can still state that it was about five by eight meters in size. At the time of writing, we have just documented the top cobbled floor level.

The basement had a slope to the south, which opened onto the medieval Västerportsgatan.

The stone cellar is documented.
Torn down burnt planks from the upper floor.

The farm at Tegmarsgatan

The farm in question was located on the corner of Västerportsgatan and Tegmarsgatan, which today roughly corresponds to the area where Kungsgatan and Västerlånggatan meet. 

It is also called in the sources “dagmar straten”, “strata/platea Teghmers”, “Thänkmars gatu” and “Teymars gatu”. Tegmarsgatan had a southwest–northeast orientation and formed an arch in the same direction as the city wall further north. Among other things, the name has been explained as coming from German, and equivalents can be found in the medieval documents of the city of Wismar. Over time, the original name and meaning have fallen into oblivion.

Gotskalk Hulskede’s farm?

Gotskalk Hulskede, who is mentioned in the written sources as early as 1368, is probably the first known owner of the corner farm. Gotskalk is also included in the declaration of allegiance to Queen Margareta in 1389.

Several of the plot owners are known during most of the 15th century. The thought book mentions, for example, Jacop Skytte and Gödeka printers. One of the records (1483) describes the farm as being “next west benkth thoressons gardh in hyrnith oc oppa höhra handen as you walk to mwren lithla gathorna”.

A violent fire in 1611

The farm was apparently burned down in the bloody summer of 1611 in connection with the Kalmar War. The cobbled floor was covered with broken brick, stone and wood from the upper floors of the house. 

Here were, among other things, two severely burnt hand mills and a pile of burnt grains. Perhaps it is the case that a kitchen on the floor above collapsed into the basement in connection with the fire. But this was not all that lay here……

Two heavily fire-damaged hand grinders.
It is likely that a barrel of grain fell prey to the flames in 1611.
A fire-damaged bolt lock, probably older than the Kalmar War.

A Danish soldier’s lost weapon

In the masses was also a rusty weapon that clearly gossips about what happened. We have had the battlefield archaeologist Bo Knarrström take a look at it and he states that this amazingly well-preserved stabbing weapon is something in between the medieval sword and the more modern sword, which would eventually come to dominate the 17th-century battlefield. 

At the time of the Kalmar War, the European armies were at a turning point – the military revolution – where new tactics and weapon systems were being tested.

The find fits well into the arsenal of the time. A Danish soldier lost his beautiful weapon in battle in the fateful summer of 1611. After conservation and deeper research, we will be able to tell you more.

In the basement lay the lost weapons of a Danish soldier.
This rare battle sword just found in Sweden is ‘an evolutionary leap’
The tip is broken. Maybe in connection with battle?

2 Viking swords buried upright might have connected the dead to Odin and Valhalla

2 Viking swords buried upright might have connected the dead to Odin and Valhalla

2 Viking swords buried upright might have connected the dead to Odin and Valhalla
This sword has a preserved pommel (a knob at the end of the handle) with a “button” on top.

Archaeologists in Sweden have unearthed two Viking swords in neighbouring graves that were buried upright as if they were standing on their points.

Whoever installed the iron swords perpendicular to the surface about 1,200 years ago clearly did so on purpose, as it would have taken a lot of effort — possibly involving a rock or hammer — to wedge the weapons roughly 16 inches (40 centimetres) into the ground, archaeologists told Live Science. 

“The placement of the swords reflects an action with a lot of symbolism,” Anton Seiler, Fredrik Larsson and Katarina Appelgren, archaeologists at Arkeologerna, an archaeology firm in Sweden that is part of the government agency National Historical Museums, told Live Science in an email. “When you find swords in graves — which you don’t do very often — they often lie beside the buried individual, as a faithful companion on the voyage to the next world.”

It’s unknown why these two swords were buried upright, but there are a variety of possibilities, one of which is that the standing swords served as a connection to the Norse warrior god Odin and his domain Valhalla, where slain warriors reportedly resided under Odin’s leadership, the Arkeologerna team that helped uncover the sword said.

The archaeologists, who were excavating ahead of a highway construction project, discovered the two sword burials early this fall in Västmanland county in central Sweden. The team found a large grave field covering an area just under 1 acre (60 by 60 meters) and containing at least 100 cremated burials. At the time of its use, the grave field was bordered by two farms, the archaeologists said. 

An archaeologist excavates one of the swords in Sweden.

Most of the burials date to the late Iron Age (A.D. 600 to 1000) and were made with stones forming graves up to 23 feet (7 m) in diameter. The two burials bearing swords are each about 16 feet (5 m) across and date to the ninth or 10th centuries A.D., during the Viking Age. However, both of those graves, as well as a third burial containing glass beads, were placed on top of an earlier grave mound that dates to the seventh or eighth centuries A.D., meaning that each of these individuals was part of a “multi-chronological grave monument,” the team said.

It was very uncommon to incorporate old graves into new ones during the late Iron Age, Seiler, Larsson and Appelgren said. “This shows that the construction of the two stone settings with swords were done deliberately, perhaps to create a connection to a certain individual, ancestor, or social group.”

One of the swords is raised, after spending centuries in the ground.

Viking Age swords were expensive objects, so it was a “huge investment” to bury these weapons in graves, as it rendered them “unavailable for future use,” the team added. Both swords are about 35 inches (90 cm) long, and are broken. “They shattered when pressed into the ground, and more than 1,000 years has also contributed to degradation,” the team explained.

The archaeologists plan to piece the fragments together “to determine the exact length and shape of the swords,” and it’s possible that traces of decayed remains, such as wooden or leather sheaths known as scabbards, or inlays of silver on the handles “will become visible during conservation,” Seiler, Larsson and Appelgren said. 

In addition to the swords, the two burials contained cremated human and animal bones — including those from horses, dogs and birds that were possibly sacrificed for the burial ceremony — as well as game pieces that were crafted from whale bone, silver knot work, pottery vessels, iron nails and iron rivets, which may reflect Viking boats or other wooden structures. The team also found bear claws, possibly from pelts that have since decayed, and grain, perhaps as fare to the next world, the archaeologists said. 

One of the swords, standing upright in the grave before its full excavation.

Why were the swords buried upright?

It’s a mystery why the swords were placed standing up, but one possible explanation is that it was a way of consecrating the deceased to Odin; ground-stuck swords (and in some cases, spears and arrowheads) may have been thought to facilitate the transition to Valhalla, the archaeologists said.

However, some researchers suggest that sharp objects stuck into graves were “a way to prevent the dead from rising,” the team said. “We do not think that applies to these graves, as the swords were such precious objects. Instead, knives or arrowheads could have been used, which would have been significantly cheaper.”

The archaeologists also found bear claws, which were probably from a pelt used during the funeral.

Whatever the reason, it’s likely that the swords also served as a reminder of the dead to the living. The pommels of the swords “lay superficially in the graves and must have been visible during the Viking Age,” Seiler, Larsson and Appelgren said. “Perhaps it was the case that the relatives sometimes visited the graves, and by touching the swords made connections with the dead.

The archaeologists plan to soon analyze the human remains in the sword burials, which will help them determine each person’s sex, age at death, and if just one or multiple people were interred in each grave. It’s tempting to think that these graves all contain men, but “we cannot be sure of this,” as female Vikings have been found buried with weapons, they said.  

While the team still has to radiocarbon date the burials, “one can suspect that the graves with swords were built at the same time,” Seiler, Larsson and Appelgren said. “They were next to each other, built in the same burial mound and with similar grave goods. Perhaps they reflect two brothers/sisters in arms who died in the same battle? This is of course hypothetical but certainly represents a breath-taking possibility.”

Thor’s Hammer Amulet Found in Sweden

Thor’s Hammer Amulet Found in Sweden

A 1,000-year-old amulet of Thor’s Hammer discovered in Sweden shows the lasting popularity of the ancient Norse deity, who has now won a new audience with Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal of the Viking god of war in Marvel movies.

Thor's Hammer Amulet Found in Sweden
Archaeologists think the amulet was worn around the neck, perhaps as spiritual protection. It’s thought the design of Thor’s Hammer could signify an adherence to the old religion of Norse gods, rather than to the “new” Christian religion.

Thor had always been a popular figure, perhaps because he was concerned about humans, Carolyne Larrington, a professor of medieval European literature at the University of Oxford, told Live Science.

“Of all the Norse gods, Thor is the one most interested in the fate of humanity,” said Larrington, author of the upcoming book “The Norse Myths that Shape the Way We Think,” (Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2023) who wasn’t involved in the recent discovery. “His main job was patrolling the east and keeping the giants [the Jötnar] out of the lands of humans and the gods with his hammer.”

Archaeologists unearthed the amulet over the summer during excavations near the southwestern town of Ysby, Per Wranning, the head of archaeology at the Cultural History Museum in Halland County, told Live Science in an email. 

The region faces Denmark across the strait between the North Sea and the Baltic, which for centuries has been called the Kattegat — “cat’s passage” — because it is dangerously shallow.

The archaeological investigations of the site, which has been earmarked for new houses, have also revealed several firepits, post holes and pieces of pottery and metal that may date to before the end of the late Viking Age in the mid-11th century A.D, he said. 

The Thor’s Hammer amulet was found in the southwestern Swedish town of Ysby this summer. It is thought to be made of lead and is dated to around the 10th or 11th centuries A.D.

Viking Age

Similar Thor’s hammer amulets have been found previously in Scandinavia, but this is the first uncovered in Halland, said Wranning, who led the dig.

It’s cast in metal and has intricate embossed designs on its upper face, and it may have been gilded (decorated with gold) or silvered, but the archaeologists won’t be sure until it’s been properly cleaned and preserved, he said.

A hole in the shaft — the bottom of the “handle” of the hammer — indicates the amulet was hung on a ring or thong and suggests it was worn around the neck, but it might have formed some other type of jewellery, he added.  “The find probably dates to the 900s or 1000s — that is, the late Viking Age — and appears to be made of lead,” Wranning wrote in a translated blog post

Such amulets might have been worn during the religious transition of the region at the end of the Viking Age as a symbol of adhering to the old Norse gods, rather than to the “new” religion of Christianity.

“One theory is that these large, ornamented Thor’s hammers were a clear marker for those who still worshipped the [Norse] gods when Christianity began to take root in Scandinavia,” he said.

Preliminary dating of the latest finds at Ysby suggests they are from the Viking Age, which traditionally starts in 793 — the date of the first Viking raid in England, on a monastery on the holy island of Lindisfarne on the coast of Northumberland — and ends with the Battle of Stamford Bridge in September 1066, where an English army led by King Harold Godwinson defeated an invading Norwegian army near York.

Thor’s Hammer

The divine hammer represented by the amulet is the war hammer Mjölnir , which according to legend was crafted by dwarves for the gods of Valhalla in a competition to create the most wondrous treasure, Larrington said.

Although the other treasures included a ship that could fold up and be placed in a pocket and the gold-bristled, glow-in-the-dark boar called Gullinbursti that could be ridden into battle, Mjölnir was judged the most marvellous and was given to Thor for his wars against the giants, she said.

“It has both a destructive power and a sacred power,” she said. “It seems to have been used to hallow things, to make them sacred.”

When worn as an amulet, representations of Mjölnir might have been thought of as a form of spiritual defense: “It’s protecting you, in a very positive way,” she said.

Thor was also a god of the weather, and through that association, he was a god of seafaring. “If you’re sailing from Norway to Iceland, you want decent weather, you don’t want a storm — and Thor is very much connected with that,” Larrington said.

She noted that Ysby, where the amulet was found, is only a few miles from the coast. “So I would imagine it is about travelling,” she said.

According to the blog post by Wranning, the remains of two “longhouses” from the late Iron Age have been found at Ysby, and walls from a Christian church built in the 1100s or 1200s.

Early maps also show a ford across the nearby Lagan River: “this could have contributed to the fact that the site has been of interest to control in ancient times,” he wrote.

Viking Age Silver Hoard Discovered in Sweden

Viking Age Silver Hoard Discovered in Sweden

A 1000-year-old silver hoard containing several beautiful torque-style neck rings, arm rings and coins has been discovered in Viggbyholm, Täby, outside Stockholm. “This is something you probably only experience once in a lifetime”, says Maria Lingström at The Archaeologists, National Historical Museums in Sweden.

Viking Age Silver Hoard
A unique treasure hoard dating from the Viking Age has been uncovered in Täby, Stockholm. Consisting of arms rings, coins and eight torque-style neck rings.

The treasure was found during an archaeological excavation of a Viking Age settlement in Täby outside Stockholm, an area thought to have been inhabited for several hundred years.

The archaeologists have found more than 20 houses and buildings, the earliest dating from around 400 AD, continuing into the Viking Age (800–1050 AD) and early Middle Ages.

The treasure was buried under what was once a wooden floor in a building. The coins were deposited in a pouch made of linen, which together with the jewellery had been put into a small ceramic pot.

– When I started to carefully remove the neck rings one by one, I had this extraordinary feeling of “they just keep coming and coming”. In total there were eight high-quality torque-style neck rings, extraordinarily well preserved despite having been made and deposited almost a thousand years ago. They looked almost completely new, Maria Lingström says.

In addition to the neck rings, two arm rings, one ring, two pearls and 12 coin pendants (coins used as jewellery), were found in the ceramic pot.

Why the inhabitants chose to hide some of their most valuable objects and bury them in the ground, is at the moment unclear, but several theories exist.

– One common interpretation is that people hid and buried their treasures in difficult and tumultuous times. We have yet to see if that was the case here, archaeologist John Hamilton says.

The coins are a perfect example of the far-reaching connections and blossoming trade, which flourished in Viking Age Scandinavia. Several coins are of European origin, representing countries such as England, Bohemia and Bavaria. In addition, the treasure consisted of five Arabic coins, so-called dirhams.

One of the European coins is extremely rare and was minted in the city of Rouen, in Normandy, France. It dates to approximately the 10th Century AD.

According to Professor Jens Christian Moesgaard at Stockholm University, this type of coin has previously ever been identified from drawings in an 18th-century book.

The Archaeologists also found other objects, such as arrows, quernstones, and beautiful amulet rings, within the area. But the discovery of a silver treasure was somewhat unexpected.

– This is something you probably only experience once in a lifetime, says Maria Lingström.