Viking Gold and Oath Rings Part Two

The Context of Gold

by Kristen Nedergaard Dreiøe

Now the crops had grown too high for us to sweep our DEUS dectectors. We had to close down the search, leaving the corn to be the guardians over what was possibly remaining in the ground. A month later in mid-July 2016 the Viking bracelets were hastily exhibited at the local museum before their final destination at the National Museum.

In just two weeks, the exhibition had received a month’s worth of visitors!

In just two weeks, the exhibition had received a month’s worth of visitors!

In just two weeks, the exhibition had received a month’s worth of visitors, the atmosphere was electric. It was silly season, and the news about the gold bracelets quickly spread around the globe, and for a while distracted us from pursuing the next steps in our journey…. unearthing more evidence of significant Viking presence in the area.

The corn crops were due to be harvested at the end of October, and an extensive excavation of the finds spot was expected to take place a month or so later. There was plenty of months to grow impatient, which left us time to assist the museum and broaden our knowledge. We decided to make identical written agreements with the twelve major landowners surrounding the “gold field” to ensure a good and long-lasting support for our activities and secure future research for the museum.This was truly citizen science in practice. While waiting for the combine harvesters to do their job we swept the surrounding fields with our XP’s. We were now using GPS tracking to improve our detecting efficiency: Marie red tracks, Poul green tracks and me blue tracks. This method made it easy to see missing area’s and review our different detecting styles.

Garmin e-trex examples

I became very annoyed with my Garmin e-trex as it quickly ran the battery down. So I tested it against my smart phone GPS apps, but had to conclude they did not outsmart my Garmin device (if Glonass satellites were activated).

I became very annoyed with my Garmin e-trex as it quickly ran the battery down. So I tested it against my smart phone GPS apps, but had to conclude they did not outsmart my Garmin device (if Glonass satellites were activated). I also tried out different XP DEUS programs, especially Gary Blackwell’s Hot Program and this later proved itself as a good choice. We covered a lot of non-productive ground over the following months. It was only when we got close to the goldfield we started to discover Viking silver and bronze. These items appeared to be fragments of coins and buckles. We thought we had narrowed down the picture pretty well, until one day Marie found a gold nugget (remains from a goldsmith’s work), this was found nearly one kilometre away. That was mind-blowing. Had she found the workshop where the goldsmith was making the Viking kings jewellery? Suddenly, our original thoughts that the gold bracelets may have been royal gifts to a loyal Viking jarl was now challenged by an even wilder idea, maybe the bracelets were actually produced here. Maybe the find spot was far more important than we had originally thought?

While these thoughts were puzzling us, we were disturbed by a sweet sound. Finally, the heavy machinery started rolling into the field …At last it was harvest time! Based on the location of our finds the museum marked an area of approx. 40×20 metres as a no-go zone, this was going to be the excavation site when the archaeologists were ready to move in (around December). But we were still permitted to search the fields around the site. Our spirits were high but the finds were low during the first few days. Then on the 30th of October I was

Marie posing for the camera with her gold nugget!

Marie posing for the camera with her gold nugget!

using Gary’s HOT program when I made an amazing discovery just outside the excavation zone. I was detecting alone, as I started to unearth a target I noticed a glint of Yellow…. suddenly a gold object emerged from the ground, only this time it was a small piece, but breathtakingly beautifully crafted. It was a Thor’s hammer, it was the missing pendant. (See article 1) . This would now link the gold finds to Viking King Gorm the Old and with him to the first half of the 9th century. He was the last king still faithful to the Norse gods. I was paralysed with dis belief. I had to switch off my machine and return home to share this find with my team.

We had endless dreams about finding the missing pendant, and this is what we hoped to find when we started our quest in spring 2016.

We had endless dreams about finding the missing pendant, and this is what we hoped to find when we started our quest in spring 2016.

We had endless dreams about finding the missing pendant, and this is what we hoped to find when we started our quest in spring 2016. Now it was laying in my hand. Not only had it lead us to the 6 Viking gold bracelets, it also confirmed the location of the excavation site was very significant. We were convinced more treasure was going to emerge from the ground when the shovels would be replaced by serious hydraulic excavators. However, we now had to wait another 5 weeks.

Viking Gold and Oath Rings Part One

It was the first day of summer 2016. The early morning Wednesday sun was throwing its golden rays on the little town of Gram in the South of Jutland (Denmark). In most ways, it was just a normal day, and yet something felt very different. The day before my teammate Poul Nørgaard Pedersen had a spectacular dream. In the horizon he saw a beautiful Viking ship with wind filled sails. As he approached the ship it gradually got smaller until in the end he could put it in his pockets. Marie Aagaard Larsen, my beloved wife and the last member of our three person team called Team Rainbow Power, urged him to share his vision with “our archaeologist” Lars Grundvad from the Museum of Sønderskov Castle.

Lars Grundvad is our contact at the local museum we work very closely together and he takes great pleasure receiving artefacts from our metal detecting expeditions. We are great fans of Lars, because here in Denmark he is one of the new generation of archaeologists, he really appreciates the potential of “citizen science”, the collaboration between the communities of researchers and competent amateurs. His enthusiasm, generous sharing of knowledge and the latest archaeological methods is a great inspiration for us.

Lars was stunned when he heard about Poul’s dream, it was like listening to the tales of Norse Mythology. Skíðblaðnir was mentioned in the Poetic Eddas, according to which it received fair wind whenever its sail was set and it could be folded to a very small cloth and placed in one’s pocket at will. It was an ingenious creation and taken to the finest ship’s in the world of the Nordic Goods.

There was a particular atmosphere when Marie and Poul armed with their XP Deus as they headed for the “gold field” leaving me behind. It was my turn to babysit that Wednesday afternoon. It was warm and the air tense with expectation. In 1911 a farmer found an amazing Viking gold necklace hanging down from one of the tines of his harrow as he was placing the harrow on the wall after a good day’s work in the field. The necklace was fitted with two dragon heads later to be associated with the first Viking Kings of Denmark and their particular style of jewellery “Jellinge style”.

The necklace was fitted with two dragon heads later to be associated with the first Viking Kings of Denmark and their particular style of jewellery “Jellinge style”.

The necklace was fitted with two dragon heads later to be associated with the first Viking Kings of Denmark and their particular style of jewellery “Jellinge style”.

Lars had told us that the necklace was obviously missing a pendant – for instance the hammer of Thor or a crucifix. Our dream was to find this pendant. Little did we know that the name we gave our team would be significant to finding the treasure…..At the end of the rainbow was about to come true. Actually. At first Poul and I were a little uncomfortable with the name that Marie boldly suggested, because of its alternative connotations to the gay community. But, Marie needed to visualise what she was aiming for, and at the end we accepted it… Now we don’t mind it at all.

Finding the pendant would help to exactly determine the age of the necklace. If it was Thor’s hammer, then the necklace could be associated with the Danish Viking king “Gorm the Old”. If it was a crucifix it was to be associated with his son “Harald Bluetooth”, who claimed to be the one who united and baptised the Danes, and as such being the first King ruling the Kingdom of Denmark from year 958 and the following 30 years.

On previous visits we had made a couple of interesting finds from the pre-Viking era (bronze pearls), a Viking coin and a couple of bronze buckles with typical Viking ornamentations. As time passed the finds started drying out, so we decided to move area and focus to the far end of the vast field and continue out further searches there. Why did we decide to move ? we have no idea, however there was a strange feeling when we arrived at the new area, we all felt different and noticed the tense atmosphere.

4:35 PM the 1st of June 2016 Lars Grundvad received a text message from Marie Aagaard Larsen:

Marie: “You must come, NOW – with “Gold Beer”. I’m shaking, I’m shaking”

Lars: “Errhh… alright… could you send me some photos”

Photo of first Viking Gold Bracelet:

Lars: “Holy *** – Are you kidding me?”

Marie: “No – The purest gold”

Lars: “Ohhh ****! I can’t come out now. I’m alone with my baby boy. Could we meet tomorrow? You did it! You’ve made my dream come true. Congratulations to everybody. Congratulations to all of you”

20 minutes later another two gold bracelets emerged from the ground – one of them with the signature design of the Viking kings from Jelling.

20 minutes later another two gold bracelets emerged from the ground – one of them with the signature design of the Viking kings from Jelling.

20 minutes later another two gold bracelets emerged from the ground – one of them with the signature design of the Viking kings from Jelling.

My team members with their XP’s had located a gold treasure with direct links to the first Viking kings in Denmark, and the birth of Denmark as a nation.

Apart from being a strong lager the word “Gold Beer” was a reward Lars boldly offered to his pack of detectorists. It was to be awarded to he or she who found the first archaeological artefact made of gold. In the end, he had to withdraw his offer. As far Too much beer would be at his expense.

My team members with their XP’s had located a gold treasure with direct links to the first Viking kings in Denmark, and the birth of Denmark as a nation.

My team members with their XP’s had located a gold treasure with direct links to the first Viking kings in Denmark, and the birth of Denmark as a nation.

I was also babysitting that afternoon, and I can’t explain to you the mixed emotions flushing through my body as the messages, pictures and calls were constantly disturbing my efforts to be an attentive father to his young son. I was so desperate to join my team. When Marie returned that evening she was in a state of shock, I guess only those who have found extraordinary treasures will know what that feeling is like. And luckily for me and for the team we all found gold bracelets over the following 12 days. We all got to feel the tremendous impact it has on you when you pick up gold from the ground. Like a lightening bolt rushing through your mind and body.

We made an oath to each other that day, that we would equally share whatever came our way, good or bad, rewards or rumors….. In this way we freed ourselves of the worries about who was going out to search the gold field, we were a united team. We found seven rings, six made of gold and one of silver. Probably oath rings offered by the Viking king to one of his very closest allies. We did not give oath rings to each other, but we were fortunate to be able to pass them on to you all.

Poul Nørgaard Pedersen, Marie Aagaard Larsen , Kristen Nedergaard Dreiøe

Poul Nørgaard Pedersen, Marie Aagaard Larsen , Kristen Nedergaard Dreiøe

Story By: Kristen Nedergaard Dreiøe March 2017

Pictures by : Michael Kirkeby Pedersen, Nick Schaadt, Kristen Nedergaard Dreioe and Poul Norgaard