An amateur archaeologist and his 13-year old student came across what has been described as a ‘significant’ treasure trove, on Rügen in the Baltic Sea, Germany’s largest island. As with many unexpected discoveries, the duo was initially drawn to the trove by its glint, which later turned out be silver instead of the common tin foil. But even beyond its metallic content, a consequent assessment revealed how the hoard belonged to none other than the legendary Harald Bluetooth, the king of Denmark who was responsible for introducing Christianity to his native realm in 10th century AD (and also bears his namesake for the modern wireless technology).
Amateur archaeologist Rene Schön and 13-year-old treasurer hunter Luca Malaschnitschenko first came across the inconspicuous trove back in January. After the incredible discovery, they conscientiously contacted professional archaeologists. Consequently, a regional archaeological team then took over the site, and the duo even joined in the unearthing project.
The excavation covered around 4,300 sq ft, with the final tally matching up to a whopping 600 coins (100 of them dating from the era of Harald Bluetooth), braided necklaces, pearls, brooches, rings, and even Thor’s hammer (or rather a smaller replica of the renowned Mjöllnir). According to the lead archaeologist, Michael Schirren, a told national news agency DPA –
This trove is the biggest single discovery of Bluetooth coins in the southern Baltic Sea region and is therefore of great significance.
Interestingly enough, while many of these later-dated coins indeed coincide with the reign of Bluetooth (circa 983 AD), the oldest known coin in the trove dates from 714 AD, while the specimen in itself pertains to a Damascus dirham. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since the reach of the extensive Viking trade connection did include the then-burgeoning Islamic world. For example, back in 2015, an earlier Swedish grave (dating from the 9th century) revealed the presence of a ring inscribed with the phrase ‘for Allah’ in Kufic script.
As for the ‘Bluetooth connection’ to this trove, the treasure was most likely buried in Germany (as opposed to Denmark) because the king, during his last years, fled from his homeland to Pomerania (comprising parts of modern northeast Germany and western Poland) after being pursued by his rebellious son Sweyn Forkbeard. Bluetooth died a year later in 987 AD, while Forkbeard went on to successfully invade England in 1013 AD.
And lastly, concerning the incredible fate of an amateur archaeologist and teenage duo coming across Harald Bluetooth’s treasure – such occurrences, although rare, happened before. One pertinent example would relate to the 2015 episode of an amateur treasure hunter named James Mather. He fortuitously unearthed a Viking-plundered treasure hoard with his trusty metal detector on a farm near Watlington, England. The stash was hence given the moniker of the Watlington Hoard, and it was found to have more than 200 objects comprising gold and silver rings, ingots and Anglo-Saxon minted coins. Among them the coins alone are worth $3,788 apiece, thus bringing their total value at an enviable $947,000.