Remarkably, the neck rings, finger rings, pearls and coins were in near-pristine condition.
Archaeologists in Sweden have unearthed a once-in-a-lifetime trove of jewelry dating back to the Viking Age. Despite their age, the pieces are in near-pristine condition and look like they’re “almost completely new,” says Maria Lingström, one of the archaeologists who made the find.
Researchers with the National Historical Museums in Sweden were digging at a Viking Age settlement in Viggbyholm, a neighborhood north of Stockholm, when they stumbled upon a small ceramic pot tucked beneath the remnants of a building’s wooden floors. Inside, they found eight torque-style neck rings, one finger ring, two pearls and two arm rings. They also found a linen pouch that contained 12 coin pendants (which are coins used as jewelry).
The researchers believe people lived at the settlement for several hundred years, starting around 400 C.E. through the Viking Age (800-1050) and into the early Middle Ages. So far, they’ve discovered more than 20 houses and buildings at the site, as well as an array of other artifacts, including amulet rings and arrows.
Though the researchers were surprised and delighted to find all of the jewelry, they were particularly interested in the 12 coins. Some originated in Europe - probably from regions like Bohemia, Bavaria and England - while others were Arabic coins called dirhams.
Coin-makers minted one of the European coins in Rouen, a city in Normandy, France, sometime during the tenth century. Until now, researchers only knew of this rare coin’s existence from drawings in an 18th-century book.
Taken together, the coins suggest that people living in Scandinavia during the Viking Age participated in wide-reaching trade and made far-flung connections.