I uncovered a treasure chest loaded with gold jewels in the sacred tree using a metal detector.

Dani Trynoski wrote this.
Humans are similar to magpies. Perhaps squirrels are a better parallel. In any case, some of us enjoy collecting things. The need to gather might emerge as a pastime, ailment, or obsession depending on the individual, but it always produces intriguing outcomes. Medieval hoards are one of the outcomes.
For almost a thousand years, these hidden collections of dazzling, glittering, unusual things have been a source of curiosity and discovery. Others have been impressed by them ever since they were buried. Archaeology as a science has just embraced a more ethical approach to rescuing, recording, and interpreting these collections in the last 100 years (give or take a few decades). I’m sure 19th century “archaeologists” had a great time lugging early medieval silver pieces to the local alehouse and purchasing endless rounds, but now hoards are a valuable scientific resource. They are a literal time capsule that reflects someone’s decisions and activities at a certain point in time.

The aim of depositing hoards is questioned in the archaeological field, however it is a fact that investigations of hoard location and contents may yield a wealth of information. Economic, religious, industrial practices, historic travel, cultural structures, and other topics may all be discussed utilizing evidence from hoards. They’ve been discovered all around Europe and Asia, and here are five of my favorites. Let’s have a look at these amazing time capsules and the mysteries they contain.

The Hoen Hoard

Found near Buskerud, Norway. Excavation began in 1834. There are 207 items in all, including two gold torcs, three gold arm rings, one gold brooch constructed from an adapted harness mount, 20 coins adapted to be pendants, 32 glass beads, and 149 mixed silver or gold objects. It’s rare because of the large amount of gold and the complete preservation of the jewelry. This trove was most likely deposited in the late eighth or early ninth century and is presently housed in Oslo’s Kulturhistorisk Museum. The diverse blend of sumptuous gold, silver, and glass beads provides an intriguing look into Viking bling.

Hoard of the Vale of York

It was discovered near Harrogate, England. Excavation began in 2007. This substantial treasure hoard comprises 617 coins and 65 silver pieces placed within a gold-lined and silver-gilt container. The container was most likely built in France in the ninth century and features rich Carolingian-style ornamentation. The coins were struck in England, Ireland, Baghdad, Birka, North Africa, Russia, Afghanistan, and France. Clipped coins, brooches, arm rings, torcs, and ingots are all represented by hacksilver. A twisted gold arm band, probably from Viking-occupied Ireland, stands out. This collection was most likely buried in the ninth century after the Vikings were driven out of York; the British Museum dates it to 927 or 928 add.

Arlanda Airport Hoarding

Arlanda International Airport in Stockholm, Sweden. Excavated in 2008. Archaeologists excavating a Bronze Age tomb near Stockholm’s main airport discovered this massive currency trove. The hoard was most likely deposited in the mid-to-late ninth century, which is earlier than previous comparable currency hoards. The majority of its 472 silver pieces are Arabic coins made between 800-840 a.d., with origins spanning the Arabic peninsula and western Asia. Another uncommon feature of this treasure is its location on the continent. Many of Sweden’s currency hoards are on Baltic islands, with Gotland having an unusually high number of hoard deposits.

The Cuerdale Hoard

It was discovered near Cuerdale, England. Excavation began around 1840. This collection, the greatest Viking treasure found in Britain at the time of publication, has approximately 8,600 pieces and was most likely buried in the early 10th century. The only known trove that is heavier than the Cuerdale discovery is the Spillings Hoard (see below). The British Museum houses the majority of the trove, with select artifacts on exhibit at Oxford and Étaples, France. Torcs, brooches, ingots, hacksilver, chains, and coins are among the many Viking metal artefacts in the huge silver collection. The majority of the recognized artifacts in the hoard were damaged before burial, most likely to be employed in a weight-exchange market or to be melted down. The coins depict mints in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Italy, France, and Arabic countries. After being taken by the landowner’s bailiffs and turned over to the Crown, it was recovered in a lead box and remained entire, save a penny for each of the craftsmen engaged.

Spillings Reserve

Found at Slite on the Swedish island of Gotland. Excavation began in 1999. This massive accumulation of silver weights 148 lbs/67 kg and is the greatest known Viking treasure. It was discovered in two groupings, although it was most likely buried together. It has 486 silver arm rings, accounting about 60% of the total collection. There are over 14,295 coins with the arm rings and a few bits of hacksilver, 14,200 of which are of Arabic provenance. Subsequent investigations revealed traces of building foundations and flooring surrounding the discovery sites, as well as bronze scrap pieces and chest fragments. This treasure, which was most likely deposited in the ninth century, is only one of several findings on Gotland. On the island of Gotland, so many Viking hoards and deposits have been discovered that amateur metal detecting outside of an established scientific study is prohibited. The trove is now housed in the Gotland Museum.

Read Danielle’s Master’s Thesis to discover more about how hoards may be used to examine medieval economy and culture.

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