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”.
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.
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.
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.
Story By: Kristen Nedergaard Dreiøe March 2017
Pictures by : Michael Kirkeby Pedersen, Nick Schaadt, Kristen Nedergaard Dreioe and Poul Norgaard