Six New Finds from Kaga

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Here are the fruits of my ten hours of metal detecting in Kaga while Immo and Per mucked around with the magnetometer Wednesday and Thursday.

Top left is a spool-shaped copper-alloy handle, cast around a slim iron rod that’s broken off at the lower end. There’s indistinct cast relief decoration on the handle, and its shape and size are identical to those of 11th century key handles. These keys are L-shaped with prongs toward the end of the horizontal rod.

The next thingie is also a handle, belonging to a key or an ear scoop. El Cheapo openwork decoration typical of the 10th century, where instead of moulding a fine 9th century interlace of gripping-beasts the artisan would just drill through the thing a few times. At the top is a loop for attaching the key to your pectoral jewellery with a bronze chain. Along the frame of the interlace are two polyhedrical knobs little goggle-eyed beast heads, interestingly placed asymmetrically.

Next is a lead spool, painstakingly carved by little shavings of the knife. I figure this must be a weight, an idea that could be tested by comparing it to known units of measurement. Its date is unknown to me.

At the centre of the picture is my favourite find (because of its age), the foot-end of a miniature disc-on-bow brooch of 6th century date. It’s tinned and gilded in spots. The tapered shapes that reach down from either side to join the end of the brooch are the beaks of two eagles, a feature of brooches all over Germanic-speaking Europe from some time in the late 4th century up into the early 9th. The birds are descendants of Gothic eagle brooches of the 4th century around the Black Sea, but they don’t pair up until they reach Scandinavia. Hugin & Munin?

Next is one of those utilitarian items that are hopeless to date: the end-plate of a knife handle, designed to be slipped onto the tang of the knife before it’s stuck into the wooden or antler handle. The one thing that may indicate an early date is the outline shape of the thing: it tapers to a point at the bottom instead of just being oval or round. Smells like 6/7/8th century to me.

Finally, one of Queen Christina’s ubiquitous quarter-öre coins. According to Pierre of AHIMKAR, almost 60 30 million were struck only in 1635. We’ve found nine of them since myself and the Gothenburgers started metal detecting in Östergötland in April 2003. They’ve popped up at three out of thirteen sites we’ve investigated so far. This particular coin was struck in 1633 when the Queen was a little girl of seven. She personally had nothing to do with Treasury politics at the time: Sweden was governed by her guardians from the battlefield death at Lützen of her father in 1632 until she came of age in 1646. So the brain behind that huge coin issue was Axel Oxenstierna, the Chancellor.

So, what does this all mean? Taken together with the finds we’ve made before, we seem to be dealing with a magnate’s farm established about AD 500 and moved to some other location about AD 1050. We have cool finds from every century in that interval. And then generation upon generation of farmers dropping coins and buttons as they ploughed, sowed and reaped.

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Comments

  1. #1 Arch Asa
    September 22, 2007

    Well, if you like rusted trinkets…
    Kidding aside, even a Stone Age freak like myself would have been skipping around a rain sodden clay field if I had found that stuff.
    It will be very interesting to see what the magnetometer reults will be and compare that to the metal detector finds.

    Will there be any additional digging after the surveys?

  2. #2 Martin R
    September 22, 2007

    Yeah, the idea is to get an overview of the settlement through geophys and then strip 300 sqm right over the mead hall.

    Another question I’m very keen to see answered is whether there’s a long house foundation sticking out on either side of the barrow. If there is, then we needn’t trial-trench the barrow to date it.

  3. #3 Pierre
    September 22, 2007

    I might have given you incorrect information oabout the 1/4-re. According to more scientifick sources then the one I used yesterday the number of minted coins for the year 1635 should be about 30 milion and the total for all the years the type was minted, 1633-1654, is around 130 milion quarter re. Still, that is a lot of coins!

    Sorry about the false info…

  4. #4 kai
    September 23, 2007

    And then generation upon generation of farmers dropping coins and buttons as they ploughed, sowed and reaped.

    So by this time coins had become so commonplace that you would casually carry them around in your pocket and lose them without getting too upset?

  5. #5 Martin R
    September 23, 2007

    Yeah, pretty much, though some may have been dropped in the privy and deposited on the fields with manure. In any case, as you observe, people were being careless with these coins, not locking them up in boxes at home.

  6. #6 Glen Gordon
    September 25, 2007

    Must be nice to be so rich that coins tumble from your pockets like that, bah! :P This is cool stuff though. Love it.

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