Tuesday, April 17, 2012


A bronze, Viking-era "piggy-bank" containing thousands silver coins dating from the 11th century has been unearthed on the Baltic island of Gotland in what Swedish archaeologists have described as a "fantastic" treasure find.The silver treasure was found during an archaeological examination of a field in Rone, on southern Gotland.

"We had an expert out there with a metal detector who got a signal that he's found something pretty big," said Per Widerström, an archaeologist with the Gotland Museum. The same field has yielded previous treasure finds, including a well-known discovery from the 1880s, when a collection of nearly 6,000 coins dating from the 11th century were uncovered.

The field's reputation made it a target for amateur treasure hunters and plunderers, prompting the Gotland county administrative board to commission a survey of the area as a preventative measure against any further plundering of valuable archaeological finds.

A preliminary analysis of one of the coins revealed that it was likely minted in Germany some time between 1000 and 1040. "It's fantastic," museum head Lars Sjövärd told the local helagotland.se news website. X-rays also indicate that the bucket, which measures 23 centimeters in diameter and has a depth of about 17 centimeters, likely contains "thousands" of coins. "We can't say for sure because the x-rays couldn't penetrate all the silver. There might be other silver artifacts in there, but as it looks now, the bucket appears filled to the brim with coins," said Widerström. He explained that the find is unusual in that it was a complete treasure was found intact, something which is likely due to the fact that it was nestled just over 30 centimeters deep in the earth. "Ploughs only go down about 29 centimeters, which means this treasure has managed to escape damage from all agricultural activity over the centuries," Widerström explained.

He compared the bronze bucket to a Viking-era "piggy bank" or "cash box", adding that the size of the find may be one of the first indications of a consolidation in the market of Viking merchants. He refused to place a monetary value on the find, although museum head Sjövärd explained that even one of the silver coins could be worth "thousands" of Swedish kronor. He added that the field where the coins were found has likely yielded its last Viking-era treasure.



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