A small Danish town was the site of one of the most important, richest and most beautiful treasures in Danish gold history.
After nearly 1 kilogram of gold was discovered, the hoard included some large medallions that were the size of saucers. Vindelev, located near Jelling in central West Denmark, was the location of the hoard. It is north of Germany, west of Copenhagen, and just a few miles from the capital of Denmark.
Ole Ginnerup Schytz just bought a metal detector, and was allowed to walk on the land of a classmate. He found the hoard after a few hours.
In collaboration with experts at the National Museum and funded by the Agency for Culture and Palaces, archaeologists from Vejlemuseerne excavated the site.
Trade center in ancient times
Archaeologists now know the treasure was found in a longhouse in a village 1,500 years ago. These studies, along with the numerous data and samples collected, will provide valuable information about the circumstances and connections that led to the treasure being buried by an Iron Age chieftain. Vindelev was an Iron Age center of power, as evidenced by the enormous amount of gold found.
Mads Ravn (head of research at Vejlemuseerne) stated that only the elite of society could have collected a treasure such as the one found here. Although Vindelev’s name can be tied to the period of migration, nothing indicates that Vindelev was a previously unknown chieftain or warlord who lived here long before the birth of the kingdom of Denmark.
Just five miles away from Jelling, Denmark’s cradle in the 10th Century, is this Iron Age chieftain who in the sixth century managed to attract skilled artisans and create wealth. He buried the large gold hoard for unknown reasons, possibly to protect it from war or as a sacrifice to higher power.
What’s inside the hoard?
Vindelev Hoard is made up of beautiful decorated, saucer-sized medallions (so-called bracteates).
Also, there are Roman coins that were made into jewelry.
One of the finds is a bracteate with a male head and braid, along with several runes. A horse and a bird can be seen under the head. The runic inscription between the horse and its forelegs refers to “the high one”, which could be a reference to the ruler who buried it. Later mythological references may also associate the term with Odin.
You can also find older coins from Roman Empire.
The most notable coin is the heavy-gold Constantine the Great coin (A.D. 285-337). Constantine the Great legalized Christianity among Romans in 313, just a few hundred year before the coin bearing his face, Vindelev, located 1,242 miles north of Copenhagen, found its final resting place under a Danish longhouse.
Exhibited in 2022
The Vindelev Hoard will be open to the public in less than six months as part of Vejlemuseerne’s large Viking exhibition. It opens February 3, 2022.
This exhibition tells Harald Bluetooth’s story about eastern connections and alliances and the formation the early Danish kingdom which laid the foundation for Jelling.
This exhibition is a collaboration between Moesgaard Museum and the Vikings’ journeys to the East.