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‘Viking treasure’ of 252 silver coins found in Denmark

Coins found near Ribe in Jutland in August have proved to be part of a collection of 252 pieces of Viking silver.

'Viking treasure' of 252 silver coins found in Denmark
This file photo shows a Viking coin found previously at a different location in Denmark. Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix 2017

The discovery of the first coins led to an archaeological investigation of the area, resulting in the coins now being in the hands of the Museum of Southwest Jutland, DR Syd reports.

The ninth-century coins are extremely rare, according to experts, with only 11 such coins previously found anywhere in the world.

“Coins of this type are ridiculously rare. The ones that have been found are very well-preserved. More than we normally see with this period,” Museum of Southwest Jutland curator Claus Feveile told Ritzau.

The August discovery was made by a man with a metal detector walking in a wetland area.

After the first 16-18 coins had been turned up, the man contacted Museum of Southwest Jutland, where experts could immediately see a special find had been made.

“That on its own was a treasure – it was more than the total number of coins we already knew of,” Feveile said.

“So we were aware that this was big. It has turned out to be even bigger,” he added.

The wet conditions in which the coins were buried helped to preserve the metal, enabling archaeologists to study markings and learn more about the Viking rulers of the time.

Feveile said that the coins were used for trade at Ribe’s market.

“Not that it should be imagined that everyone was walking around with coins like these in their pockets. If that was the case, we’d have found them in many other places too,” he said.

The coins will be displayed for a limited period at the Ribe’s Vikings Museum before being transferred to the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.

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VIKINGS

Danish treasure discovery could yield new knowledge of pre-Viking people

An amateur archeologist has found 22 gold objects with sixth century symbols that could yield new details about pre-Viking peoples in Denmark, the museum that will house the treasure said on Monday.

Danish treasure discovery could yield new knowledge of pre-Viking people
An unrelated illustration photo from an earlier discovery showing Saxon, Ottonian, Danish and Byzantine coins. STEFAN SAUER / DPA / AFP

Some of the objects have runic motifs and inscriptions which may refer to the rulers of the time, but also recall Norse mythology, Mads Ravn, director of research at the Vejle museums in western Denmark, told AFP.

“It is the symbols on the items that makes them unique, more than the quantity found,” according to Ravn, who said the treasure weighed about one kilogram.

One piece even refers to the Roman emperor Constantine from the early 4th century, said Ravn.

“The find consists of a lot of gold items, including a medallion the size of a saucer,” Ravn added.

According to initial examinations, the treasure could have been buried as an offering to the gods at a chaotic time when the climate in northern Europe dramatically turned colder after a volcanic eruption in Iceland in 536 sent ash clouds into the sky.

“They have many symbols, some of which have not been seen before, which will enable us to enlarge our knowledge of the people of this period,” he said.

The treasure was found near Jelling in southwestern Denmark, which historians say became a cradle for kings of the Viking-age which lasted between the 8th and 12th centuries.

The treasure will be on display at the museum in Vejle from February 2022

The amateur archeologist using a metal detector found the treasure about six months ago but the news was only disclosed now.

READ ALSO: DNA analysis reunites Viking relatives in Denmark after 1,000 years 

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