a fantastic medieval treasure discovered in Germany

a fantastic medieval treasure discovered in Germany


ARCHEOLOGY – A small set of the XIIe-XIIIe century was identified in February, in full examination of an apprentice detectorist, under the watchful eye of a regional archaeologist.

All coins were laid out against each other, as if they had just been put away. Beside them lay wonderful gold and silver jewelry, buried for eight centuries. This impeccably preserved medieval treasure was discovered in a field in northern Germany, not far from the viking archaeological site from Haithabu. The set would date from the twelfthe-XIIIe century, the Archaeological Service of the State of Schleswig-Holstein (ALSH) announced in February.

Two golden rings set with gems, a fragment ringtwo large earrings laden with precious stones as well as about thirty silver coins. The unearthed jackpot impressed German researchers. There is also added a golden pseudo-fibula struck in imitation one dinar Almohad. Arabic coinage – which, in all likelihood, served as a model for this clasp – circulated widely in Scandinavia, during viking agebetween the VIIIe and the XIe century. The pair “outstanding” earrings, finally, “is part of the tradition of Byzantine goldsmithing”specifies the ALSH in a press release.

danish treasury

What were so many beauties of metal doing under the soil of Schleswig-Holstein? The dating of the treasure indicates a cache after the occupation of the Scandinavian counter of Haithabu. Located on the current site of Hedeby, this important Viking center classified by Unesco was razed in 1066 during a Slavic raid. Coins, on the other hand, are more useful for dating the burial of this set. Their examination revealed to numismatists the name of Valdemar the Victorious, who ruled Denmark between 1202 and 1241.

The fake dinar discovered not far from Haithabu. Archaeologisches Landesamt Schleswig-Holstein

As to what circumstances led to the creation of the treasure, that is another matter. The excavation of the site, a pit of 4 m2, has just revealed some traces of a textile. Thin remnants of what must have been a bag or some fabric that wrapped this precious set. Was it spoils of war or heritage hoarded for better days? Mystery.

An absurd detail has finally interfered in the history of this treasure. It was not discovered during a formal archaeological site, but during a more picturesque operation: in full examination for a detectorist. In Germany, the recreational use of a metal detector is subject to an authorization from the regional archaeological authorities, which can only be issued after training for aspiring detectorists. However, it was precisely during an examination of this kind, carried out by an archaeologist from the ALSH, that a novice prospector made the fabulous discovery.

In France, the Heritage Code prohibits unauthorized excavations or surveys, and the use of a metal detector for the purpose of archaeological research is subject to administrative authorization. French actors in archeology have increased in recent years awareness-raising mechanisms and education, in order to prevent the unauthorized use of metal detectors by amateurs, whose action involves the looting and destruction of archaeological sites.



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