Hobby Archaeologists Find Treasure of Legendary Viking King Harald Bluetooth on Germany’s Ruegen Island in Baltic Sea

Hobby Archaeologists Find Treasure of Legendary Viking King Harald Bluetooth on Germany’s Ruegen Island in Baltic Sea

Viking Age necklaces, rings, bracelets, beads, pearls, brooches, a Thor’s hammer, and 500 to 600 partially split coins, 100 of which from the period in the late 10th century during the rule of Danish King Harald Bluetooth have been discovered on the German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. Photo: DPA

Two amateur archaeologists, one of them a 13-year-old boy, have discovered a large silver treasure on Germany’s Ruegen Island in the Baltic Sea which have been associated with Harald Gormsson, aka Harald Bluetooth, one of the last Viking kings of Denmark and Norway.

One of the most popular Viking rulers, Harald Bluetooth (r. ca. 958 – 986 AD) is deemed as the founder of the Danish Empire by consolidating Denmark, carrying out reforms, and converting the country to Christianity.

Danish King Harald Bluetooth was also briefly the king of Norway in the 970s, following the Norwegian King Harald II Greycloak in 970.

Perhaps even more interestingly, the Bluetooth wireless technology developed by Ericsson, Nokia, and Intel was named after King Harald Bluetooth.

The discovery of the Viking King’s treasure on the German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea has become possible after in in January 2018, two hobby archaeologists, Rene Schoen and 13-year-old student Luca Malaschnitschenko, found a silver coin near the village of Schaprode.

The find has led the archaeology office of the German state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) to organize full-fledged archaeological excavations, German news agency DPA reports citing the institution. The digs have taken place over the past weekend.

The German archaeologists have excavated an area of about 400 square meters (appr. 4,300 square feet) on the Baltic island of Ruegen, and have recovered a large number of coins of Danish King Harald as well as jewelry and other items.

The discovered artifacts include Viking Age necklaces, rings, bracelets, beads, pearls, brooches, a Thor’s hammer, and 500 to 600 partially split coins.

Some 100 of the coins are from the period in the late 10th century during Danish King Harald’s rule.

“It’s the biggest trove of such coins in the southeastern Baltic region,” the archaeology office of the German state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania has said.

The silver coins minted by Danish King Harald Bluetooth featured a Christian cross, and weighed 0.3 grams. They were among Denmark’s first independent coins.

One of the newly discovered coins. The silver coins minted by Danish King Harald Bluetooth featured a Christian cross, and weighed 0.3 grams. They were among Denmark’s first independent coins. Photo: DPA

“This is the largest single find of Bluetooth coins in the southern Baltic Sea region and is therefore of outstanding importance,” excavation director Michael Schirren has said.

He points out that similar types of coins have so far only been found on the territory of the former Danish Empire, such as at Husby and Harndrup.

The German archaeologist has also hypothesized that there might be a connection between the newly discovered silver treasure and the discoveries in 1872 and 1874 on the nearby Baltic Sea island of Hiddensee of gold jewelry also attributed to Viking King Harald Bluetooth.

The archaeology office of the German state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania has revealed the two amateur archeologists were asked to keep quiet about their discovery to give professional archaeologists time to plan the dig and were then invited to take part in the excavations.

“This was the (biggest) discovery of my life,” hobby archaeologist Rene Schoen has told the German news agency DPA.

Schoen has said that he and 13-year-old Luca Malaschnitschenko were using metal detectors on the field near Schaprode when Luca found a little piece that he initially thought was only aluminum garbage.

Danish King Harald Bluetooth was one of the last Viking kings to rule over what is now Denmark, Northern Germany, Southern Sweden, and parts of Norway. His nickname came from the fact he had a dead tooth that looked bluish.

In 1996, three industry leaders, Intel, Ericsson, and Nokia, met to plan the standardization of the short-range radio technology now known as Bluetooth.

During this meeting, Jim Kardash from Intel suggested Bluetooth as a temporary code name.

“King Harald Bluetooth…was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link," Kardash was later quoted as saying.

The name “Bluetooth" was only intended as a placeholder but it stuck. The technology logo carries the runic letters for King Harald Bluetooth’s initials HB.

It has been hypothesized that the treasure discovered on the German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea may have been buried in the late 980s when Harald Bluetooth fled to Pomerania (in today’s Northeast Germany and Northwest Poland) after losing a battle against his son, Sweyn Forkbeard. Harald Bluetooth died the year after that.

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Relevant Books:

Who was Harold Bluetooth?

The Vikings: A History

Viking Empires

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