Trove of 1,000-year-old Viking coins unearthed by young girl in Denmark

A young girl unearthed nearly 300 silver coins, some believed to be used by Vikings in the 980s, near an old fortress in Denmark. North Jutland Museum

When most people go metal detecting, they typically find a few dimes, pop cans and if they’re really lucky, a lost piece of jewelry.

An unnamed young girl in Denmark found much more than that when she unearthed a hoard of nearly 300 silver coins believed to be over 1,000 years old while using a metal detector in a cornfield last autumn.

The coins, as per the Historical Museum of North Jutland in Denmark, were discovered close to the Fyrkat Viking fortress site near the town of Hobro, in northwestern part of the country.

The girl, who gave the artifacts to the museum, found a mix of Danish, German and Arabic coins. The Danish coins, which the museum said are of special interest to archaeologists, are believed to be from the 980s.

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A close-up of one of the silver Danish coins believed to be from the 980s. Historical Museum of North Jutland

“A hoard like this is very rare,” Lars Christian Norbach, the museum’s director, told the French news agency AFP. He said the Viking coins are from the same period as the nearby fortress, which was built by King Harald Bluetooth, and can offer insight into the lives and history of Vikings in Denmark.

The coins were discovered in two separate treasure troves less than 50 metres apart from one another.

The nearly 300 coins — most of which were broken — vary in size from large to small, though about 50 of the silver pieces are still in their original shape.

Broken pieces of silver jewellery originating from Scotland or Ireland were also discovered with the coins.

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“Danish Vikings did not appreciate the fine artistic details of the jewellery. For them, it was only the weight of the silver jewelry that mattered,” the museum wrote. “Therefore, the ring pin was chopped into pieces, and most of the jewelry was probably used as a means of payment or melted down into new jewelry in Scandinavian style.”

A piece of broken jewelry, believed to be from Scotland or Ireland, discovered with the Viking coins. Historical Museum of North Jutland

Next autumn, archaeologists will continue to excavate the area around the fort where the coins were discovered. Rather than treasure hunting, the excavation will focus on discovering remains of Viking houses.

The young girl who found the silver coins will be financially compensated for her contribution to the North Jutland Museum, though the amount is not known publicly. The coins will be available to view in a museum exhibit as early as July 1.

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