A few days before Christmas last year, metal detectorist Pawel Bednarski made a fascinating discovery at the Kongshaug plateau in Stjørdal, Norway.

After stumbling upon a small ring, he dug up a pile of small silver objects, which were located only a few centimeters below the ground.

"The first thing I found was a small ring, which at first glance did not look particularly interesting. Then another ring appeared. Next, I found a piece of a bangle," Bednarski told Gemini.

"The objects were covered in clay, so it was not so easy to see what they looked like. It was only when I got home and rinsed one of the bangle pieces in water that I realized that this was an exciting find," he noted.

The amateur metal detectorist delivered the objects to the archaeologists in Trøndelag County Municipality, who confirmed that the find was interesting and that it was probably from the Viking Age.

Several dozen of silver objects

After the analysis was carried out, archaeologist Birgit Maixner from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Science Museum got in touch with Bednarski, according to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

"The find consists of 46 objects of silver, and is a rather exceptional find. It weighs 42 grams, and it has been a very long time since such a large discovery from the Viking Age has been made in Norway," Maixner said. 

She added that multiple Arab coins and various types of jewelry were found.

Only two of the items are complete and not modified.

"This was a time when chopped and weighed silver was used as a means of payment," the archaeologist explained.

The Arab coins found in the hoard were older than expected. Photo: Birgit Maixner / NTNU Science Museum

A flexible means of payment

The archaeologist stated that silver was a flexible means of payment that was easy to handle and transport.

"It was a form of payment that was quite new at the time. It came to Scandinavia at the end of the 8th century. Before that, people exchanged one item for another item," Maixner added.

"In addition, you could buy the items you wanted when it suited you." 

Experts don't know whether the silver valuables were hidden to keep them safe or whether they were a sacrifice or gift to a god.

"We also don't know if the person who hid the objects was going to pick them up later or if they never had such intentions," Maixner said, adding that the "silver treasure probably had quite a large value in its time. At least for an individual."

A deal gone bad?

Archaeologist Maixner believes the person who hid the treasure was perhaps from Denmark and had prepared for trade by cutting the silver into suitable pieces.

"But then the deal might never come to fruition. Perhaps they found the trading post unsafe and decided to hide some of their valuables at the entrance before venturing into it."

Another unusual feature of the hoard is the age of the Arab coins found.

In an average Norwegian treasure find from the Viking Age, approximately three out of four Islamic coins are from 890 to 950 CE.

However, in the Stjørdal hoard, the coins are dated to the end of the 7th century or early 8th century.

"The relatively old age of the Islamic coins and bracelets and the large degree of fragmentation of most of the objects is more typical of treasure finds from Denmark than from Norway. 

"These features also make it likely to assume that the treasure is from the 9th century," Maixner concluded.

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