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ARCHAEOLOGY

Relic found in Denmark belonged to influential 14th-century woman

A recently-discovered seal stamp belonged to a key figure in rebellious movements in Jutland in the 1300s, according to experts.

Relic found in Denmark belonged to influential 14th-century woman
Photo: Arkæologi Vestjylland/handout/Ritzau Scanpix

A seal belonging to Elisabeth Buggesdatter was recently found by an amateur archaeologist at Hodde, near Varde in western Jutland.

The seal was identifiable because Elisabeth is one of few women from the period who is referred to in written sources and other relics.

She is described as having spoken at political gatherings known as tinge (literally, ‘things’), at which legislative and judiciary power was executed during Medieval Denmark – mostly by men.

Elisabeth was the daughter of Niels Bugge, a leading figure and one of the richest men in Jutland during the period, and leader of a Jutish revolt against Danish king Valdemar IV Atterdag, who ruled from 1340 to 1375.

How the seal came to be at the field in Hodde where it was discovered, and any connections between Elisabeth and the area, are currently unknown.

“I sat for ten minutes enjoying the sight of it before sending a picture to the local museum,” Lasse Rahbek Ottesen, the amateur archaeologist who found the seal stamp, said in a statement.


Photo: Arkæologi Vestjylland/handout/Ritzau Scanpix

The relic is considered state property and was therefore handed over to the National Museum in Copenhagen.

Lars Christian Bentsen, curator with Varde Museums’ West Jutland Archaeology, said the discovery was a valuable one.

“It is very preserved and exciting, because seal stamps were normally destroyed when the owner died,” Bentsen said.

That the seal belonged to a woman was confirmed after examination by the National Museum, which found the inscription ‘Elsebe Buggis Dotter’, meaning Elisabeth Buggesdatter, on the stamp.

“It is outstanding to be able to connect this very personal object to a person we know from historical sources,” National Museum curator Marie Laursen said.

“That the owner was a woman who was among the leading figures in society in the 14th century makes this discovery even more spectacular,” she added.

READ ALSO: Archaeologists celebrate spectacular discovery of Danish Iron Age treasure

VIKING

How a Viking king inspired one of our best-known modern technologies

A Swede and American tell the story of how they hatched the idea for the moniker 'Bluetooth' over beers.

A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth
A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

At the end of the 1990s, Sven Mattisson, a Swedish engineer working at telecom group Ericsson, and Jim Kardach, an American employed by Intel, were among those developing the revolutionary technology.

In 1998, at the dawn of the “wireless” era, the two men were part of an international consortium that created a universal standard for the technology first developed by Ericsson in 1994.

But prior to that, they had struggled to pitch their wireless products. Intel had its Biz-RF wireless programme, Ericsson had MC-Link, while Nokia had its Low Power RF. Kardach, Mattisson and others presented their ideas at a seminar in Toronto in late 1997.

“Jim and I said that people did not appreciate what we presented,” Mattisson, now 65 and winding down his career at Ericsson, recalled in a recent interview with AFP.

The engineer, who had travelled all the way to Canada from Sweden for the one-hour pitch, decided to hang out with Kardach for the evening before flying home.

“We received a lukewarm reception of our confusing proposal, and it was at this time I realised we needed a codename for the project which everyone could use,” Kardach explained in a long account on his webpage.

‘Chauvinistic story’

To drown their sorrows, the two men headed for a local Toronto bar and ended up talking about history, one of Kardach’s passions. “We had some beers… and Jim is interested in history so he asked me about Vikings, so we talked at length about that,” said Mattisson, admitting that his recollection of that historic night is now somewhat foggy.

Kardach said all he knew about Vikings was that they ran “around with horned helmets raiding and looting places, and that they were crazy chiefs.”

Mattisson recommended Kardach read a well-known Swedish historical novel about the Vikings, entitled “The Long Ships”.

Set in the 10th century – “a chauvinistic story” about a boy taken hostage by Vikings, says Mattisson – one name in the book caught Kardach’s attention: that of the king of Denmark, Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson.

A Bluetooth adapter from 2004. Photo: Stefan Gustavsson/SvD/TT

Unification

An important historic figure in Scandinavia in the 10th century, the king of Denmark’s nickname is said to refer to a dead tooth, or, as other tales have it, to his liking for blueberries or even a simple translation error.

During his reign, Denmark turned its back on its pagan beliefs and Norse gods, gradually converting to Christianity.

But he is best known for having united Norway and Denmark in a union that lasted until 1814.

A king who unified Scandinavian rivals – the parallel delighted those seeking to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.

And the reference to the king goes beyond the name: the Bluetooth logo, which at first glance resembles a geometric squiggle, is in fact a superimposition of the runes for the letters “H” and “B”, the king’s initials.

Low-cost and with low power consumption, Bluetooth was finally launched in May 1998, using technology allowing computer devices to communicate with each other in short range without fixed cables.

The first consumer device equipped with the technology hit the market in 1999, and its name, which was initially meant to be temporary until something better was devised, became permanent.

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